Preston v Sheff Wed: canny Carvalhal

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Carlos Carvalhal – theleaguepaper.com

In the infancy of Carlos Carvalhal’s reign as Sheffield Wednesday manager, The Football Lab questioned whether he had the shrewdness to curtail his attacking tactics against stronger opposition.

After the Owls won 1-0 at Newcastle on Boxing Day, it is safe to say that such suspicions are long gone. He moved Daniel Pudil to left midfield for goal-kicks, knowing he would have a height advantage over right-back Anita. He instructed Sam Hutchinson, who has been excellent since moving into midfield where he impressed season, to ‘sit’ on the in-form Diame. He ensured that forwards Steven Fletcher and Fernando Forestieri blocked passes into midfield and allowed them to go to Newcastle’s left, knowing the limited technical ability of Dummett. The tactics were spot on – and credit to the players for executing them.

After claiming a bonus at betting comparison sites such as Oddschecker or Your Mobile Casinos you may be tempted to place a £5 bet on Sheffield Wednesday to continue their form with a win. They face a Preston teams that tends to fall short against the better sides, having picked up four points from their games against the division’s top eight.

They played five bottom half teams in the six games prior to Boxing Day and excelled. Their expected goals tally over those matches was 10 according to Experimental 361 – only four Championship sides were higher. Dynamic midfielder Ben Pearson and versatile forward Callum Robinson have added energy, in and out of possession. Like the duo, goalkeeper Chris Maxwell did not start the season for Preston but has impressed since coming into the side.

However, Boxing Day saw them outclassed by Leeds United, particularly in the first half. The game provided a reminder that they do not have the standard of player required to compete with the Championship’s elite, in which this blog includes Sheffield Wednesday.

Carvalhal’s men had their luck in beating Barnsley despite an indifferent performance, then needing a controversial 93rd-minute penalty to open up bottom side Rotherham. However, it is luck that the footballing gods had long owed them. Before this run of five wins in six started, the Owls averaged 1.4 expected goals per game, even though they were averaging one actual goal per game. With a more consistent side, they are starting to find that extra bit of confidence.

The Football Lab’s Verdict: 0-2

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