Wednesday v Preston: Fessie is back

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Fernando Forestieri

Recently, we have started to see more of the Fernando ‘Fessie’ Forestieri that Sheffield Wednesday fans fell in love with last season.

He was at the centre of almost every good attacking move in the 2-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers. He slipped away from challenges like a bar of soap, pinched the ball in the opposing half many times and looked at his creative best.

It may be no coincidence that arguably his best performance of this campaign has come alongside Lucas Joao. The Portuguese striker adds the raw pace, power and tenacity which complements Forestieri’s nimble footwork. Joao’s runs stretch the play and push defences back, thus creating space for his partner to thrive.

That performance represented a sign that Carlos Carvalhal has finally found the right tactical balance away from home. Sam Hutchinson provided much needed physicality in front of the back four. Glenn Loovens came back into the side and dealt superbly with the high balls, his presence getting the best out of Tom Lees.

Sheffield Wednesday played good football against Wolves but when Preston played the same opposition, they started too defensively. The problem was the same against Burton Albion last week and although they showed improvements in the second half of that match, the Lilywhites have not created enough in recent games.

Preston are not going to be dragged into a relegation battle because they are too well organized. They have kept six clean sheets this season, only Ipswich and Derby have kept more outside the top three.

Tom Clarke has been consistently strong at centre-back in the last few seasons, Greg Cunningham continues to impress at left-back while Middlesbrough loanee Alex Baptiste has added solidity on the other side.

Over October though, Preston had more than just solidity. They looked quick, aggressive, dynamic and played on the front foot. For the two goals against Aston Villa we saw Ben Pearson pressing to win the ball high up the pitch and then move forward quickly.

Recently, they have lost that side to their game. They have looked more like the Preston we saw over August that crossed the ball slowly and showed less attacking intent.

If they play the same kind of football against Sheffield Wednesday, they could come unstuck, because Loovens and Lees will win everything in the air. Then again, if they try to outplay the Owls, Forestieri and co. have superior quality.

The Football Lab’s Verdict: 2-0

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