Sheffield Wednesday Preview vs Stoke City (H)

Three wins in a row has finally brought an air of confidence to Hillsborough, though those victories came against ‘lowly’ opposition, they were games that in previous years we would have lost.

Perhaps the exclusion of Forestieri from the first team in those games was a stroke or genius, or maybe the work of a fortune-teller, as Wednesday will have to play without him for another three games. His three-match ban following a brawl with Mansfield Town players in pre-season is more than disappointing, especially when you look at the level of opposition we face in the coming weeks.

Trips to Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa will far from easy, but not before we face arguably one of the best sides in the league (on paper), Stoke City.

Losing few of their key players, with both Jack Butland and Joe Allen staying, and bringing in former Championship stars in Benik Afobe and Tom Ince, it’s hard to see them as anything less than contenders for the title. However, their league start would say different and like Wednesday, they have been incredibly slow starters.

A side that is clearly lacking in confidence, or even an inkling of cohesion, Gary Rowett has a tough task in getting the Potters back on track. They need to build from somewhere and they will be looking at the trip to Hillsborough as a real opportunity.

Equally, the Owls also have an opportunity to at least show they can compete at a level higher than midtable mediocrity. With a formation and style of play that finally suits the players we have, and the new loan signings of Michael Hector and Josh Onomah we could be a real surprise this season. Though most fans would probably be happy with us just being less of a pushover than we were in the first half of last season.

Team News:

Gary Hooper and Kieran Lee finally got some game time with the U23s, but neither seem fit enough to play a full 90 minutes so they are unlikely to be in contention for this Saturday. Forestieri’s ban could be the biggest loss, even with him coming off the bench he can completely change a game.

Predicted line-up

(4-2-3-1)

Dawson

Palmer, Lees, Thorniley, Penney

Pelupessy, Bannan

Matias, Reach, Joao

Fletcher

As was the case last time, I have no clue where to begin with the formation, it’s safe to assume it will be something along these lines. Though the usual argument is to stick with a winning team, Steven Fletcher has been edging closer and closer to the first team and if he were to play his aerial ability would be useful in breaking down the Stoke defence.

Other than that, the team should remain the same as they will only get better as they play more games together (hopefully). Although it would be nice to see a cameo from new signing Josh Onomah who will be expected to be a first team regular by his parent club.

Prediction: 1-0

Picture Credit: Sheffield Wednesday

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