PREVIEW: Wednesday -v- Sunderland

PREVIEW: Wednesday -v- Sunderland

It’s like that bit in Casino Royale.

You know, when Bond is stumbling towards the Aston Martin, having sipped a spiked Martini.

He still, somehow, from a distance, looks formidable. Crisp black tux, perfectly manicured complexion. Yet underneath lies a serious issue. Bond needs a defibrillator.

Wednesday need a shock to their heart in order to get their season going. The squad looks excellent on paper, but behind the big names lies a horrendous imbalance and squad disquiet.

Hopefully Carlos can turn it around and order a shaken-not-stirred in the boardroom on Wednesday evening.

Saturday’s draw with QPR left the Head Coach reaching for the old ‘marathon not a sprint’ cliches in Tuesday’s press conference.

The fact is, Wednesday have looked a shell of their former selves in their two league performances thus far. Only a comfortable victory against languishing Chesterfield of League Two has tempered the bubbling discontent.

Sunderland looked a side of individuals in their televised home draw with Derby County on the opening night, but then put three past Norwich at Carrow Road this weekend.

Simon Grayson is well-fancied to do well with the North East club but, like Aston Villa last season, there is much to be done behind the scenes and on the pitch in order to restructure the club to be fit for Premier League football once more.

Grayson has made a good start (Chronicle Live)

Results have been good, Grayson has instilled a good attitude into his players and, of seemingly greater importance than ever these days, his signings have worked. Popular coach and former Wednesday man Glynn Snodin is his assistant.

The Mackems do not have the spending power that their local rivals possessed last season. Aiden McGeady, who joined for a quarter of a million, is their highest profile signing. Lewis Grabban and James Vaughan make up an entirely new front line.

With confidence again returning to the Black Cats, they will be relishing the challenge of a visit to a promotion rival.

This will be a big test for Wednesday, a test of Carlos Carvalhal’s mettle and approach.

Another negative result will not help abate the rising tide of discontent that is heading towards the Head Coach.

 

 

 

Last game Opposition Result Shots On target Corners Cards Fouls Possession
WEDNESDAY QPR (H) D 1-1 14 4 4 0 10 49%
SUNDERLAND Norwich (A) W 3-1 9 5 1 1 18 29%

 

Wednesday ambled to a deserved draw against a largely lacklustre Rangers side.

It’s easy to view everything through a blue and white prism of doom these days, but if you give the ball away in your own half and allow Jamie Mackie – yes, little angry Jamie Mackie – to score and in the process fell your captain to another injury, you don’t deserve to win.

Wednesday enjoyed a twenty minute spell at the start of the second period, in which substitute Sam Winnall restored parity.

Winnall celebrates his goal

Jordan Rhodes pulled a diving header wide and Gary Hooper had another headed effort cleared off the line.

Overall, however, Wednesday lacked ideas and, with two first half substitutes having been made due to injury, Carlos Carvalhal was short on options too.

One positive: the diamond shape employed against Chesterfield was restored to good effect.

Can Adam Reach and Jack Hunt continue to patrol an entire wing with two times a week? Wednesday could do without further injuries right now.

Lewis Grabban scored twice on his return to Carrow Road as Sunderland ran out comfortable 3-1 winners.

His first made the most of a flick-on from strike partner Vaughan, his other was set up by McGeady who himself had put the Black Cats two up.

Embed from Getty Images

Grabban scored an unfortunate own-goal which threatened to bring Norwich back into it, but time had already run away from the Norfolk club, who had enjoyed the majority of possession and territory.

Nevertheless, the win represents a good first away trip for tonight’s opponents, who have made a good start in their return to the second tier.

 

 

LAST 5 QPR (H) Chesterfield (H) PNE (A) Rangers (H) Donny (A)
WEDNESDAY D 1-1 W 4-1 L 0-1 L 0-2 W 2-1

 

Norwich (A) Bury (H) Derby (H) Celtic (H) Scunthorpe (H)
SUNDERLAND  W 3-1 W 1-0 D 1-1 L 0-5 D 0-0

 

 

HEAD 2 HEAD WEDNESDAY WINS SUNDERLAND WINS DRAWS
  45 48 27

 

 

LAST MEETING

 

Wednesday 2-4 Sunderland 20 January 2007, The Proact, Att: 29, 103

Brunt 82, Small 87 // Yorke 21, Hyson 45, Connolly 58, Edwards 85

On target: Brunt left Wednesday ten years ago this week

Roy Keane’s Sunderland took the League title with 88 points and completed the double over Brian Laws’ Wednesday.

This defeat was part of a five game losing streak that, come the end of the season, would cost Wednesday an unlikely play-off place!

Either side of the poor January spell were two runs: ten wins from sixteen and nine wins from fourteen.

Some proper 90s names on show here: Dwight Yorke poked past Mark Crossley for Sunderland’s opener.

Swede Tobias Hysen made it two before half-time and the Black Cats were cruising when David Connolly made it three on the hour.

Wednesday mustered an unlikely come-back that saw Chris Brunt fire home a low free-kick and Wade Small leave the Owls one goal behind going in to added time.

Carlos Edwards poked a fourth home on the rebound to ease any Keano palpitations.

And yet the six goals weren’t enough entertainment; many of you will remember the bizarre attempt to achieve the world’s largest air guitar ensemble.

I remember seeing – n – o – b – o – d – y – take part.

 

 

CARVALHAL’S COHORTS

 

Wednesday’s squad looked totally imbalanced before two injuries to key defensive players.

At the time of writing, this looks to have been partially addressed with the imminent signing of Portuguese centre-back Federico Vernancio. The player was the Vitoria captain in our pre-season goalless draw.

Back to matters at hand, Sam Hutchinson is out while Glenn Loovens faces a late fitness test.

Kieran Lee remains sidelined, while Steven Fletcher is a doubt to face his former employers.

Might Liam Palmer get his first run out at right back?

George Boyd has skipped the last two fixtures and is yet to make his Hillsborough bow in a competitive fixture.

Sam Winnall changed the game on Saturday and should retain his place up front.

Fernando Forestieri is available for selection, according to Carlos Carvalhal.

WESTWOOD

HUNT

LEES

LOOVENS

PUDIL

WALLACE

JONES

BANNAN

REACH

WINNALL

HOOPER

 

 

KEY PLAYERS

 

TOM LEES – The Wednesday centre-half hasn’t been at his commanding best this campaign but will know he has the ability and concentration to do so tonight.

With Wednesday’s back-line looking ropy at best, the former Leeds man needs both a good performance and to come through the match unscathed.

James Vaughan and Lewis Grabban looked to have developed a good partnership up top for Sunderland. Lees and Loovens, who are among the most consistent centre-back pairings at this level, should provide their sternest challenge yet.

AIDEN McGEADY – Ah, the return of the former loan player who was sent back to his parent club.

His performances for Preston last season were of consistently good quality.

Tricky, quick, a good passer of the ball, McGeady’s career has never reached the heights it could have due to apparent mental weaknesses.

You can bet your bottom dollar he will be determined tonight, however.

 

 

 

THE BETTING BOX: 5 OF THE BEST

BET Wednesday WIN Sunderland WIN DRAW
SAFC/SWFC HT/FT McGeady anytime
BEST ODDS 5/4 11/4 5/2 33/1 6/1
BOOKIES Bet Bright Ladbrokes 32 Red

 

HUGH’S VERDICT:

Is it make or break for Carlos?

Surely not, given the chairman’s penchant for admirable patience.

I hope not. He is a good coach who has improved a number of players in this team immeasurably.

Fulham follow at the weekend, and the pressure will be intense if a good result and performance do not come tonight.

Going without a win in the opening four games would not be a promotion disaster, especially considering the early form of other favourites.

But, with rising discontent amongst fans, it’s difficult to see a happy ending if poor results continue.

Sunderland have many good players and have started well.

Wednesday can still beat them. The players should be challenged to play the football that everyone knows they are capable of.

VERDICT: 1-1. Rinse and repeat from Saturday.

Hugh
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: owlsalive@gmail.com
Twitter: @OwlsAlive and @hugh_wragg

Images: SWFC, unless stated.


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