If we’re being completely honest, many of us going into the game against Stoke might have expected a loss, and yet the 2-2 draw left the majority feeling nothing but disappointment.
Despite a horrific start that put us two goals down within 22 minutes we bounced back incredibly and could have easily gone on to win the match (that’s not to say Stoke couldn’t have won). It’s continued a nice run of four games undefeated, a significant improvement following a dismal performance against Brentford only mere weeks ago.
The result itself, and the character and teamwork needed to achieve such a comeback shouldn’t be understated, particularly against a team that has so much talent on both the pitch and on the bench.
Now we look to Nottingham Forest, a team that, like Stoke, has seen heavy investment during the summer. With Aitor Karanka in charge, a man who achieved promotion with Middlesbrough three years ago, at the helm they were tipped as promotion favourites.
As is the regular story in the championship, things haven’t started how they would’ve hoped. It hasn’t been a bad start by any means, one loss in seven league games is an admirable stat. However, only one win, and an impressive league cup win against Newcastle United, is far below expectations.
A strong performance against Swansea could be the turning point, though I hope it isn’t. With such a wealth of talent and experience across the pitch, particularly in the midfield and up front, it’d be no surprise to seem them kick on sooner rather than later.
Wednesday will be looking at the game with some confidence, though us fans probably won’t be (do we ever?). There’s a strong sense that what we finally have is a team, all fighting for each other, with Barry Bannan right at the centre of it all. The only real change needs to be how we perform defensively, as we are yet to hold a clean sheet in seven league matches and certainly don’t look particularly sturdy.
As far as injuries are concerned, it’s unlikely we will see any returns; we have seen Hooper and Abdi back in training, and Sam Hutchinson was expected to be back in training on Monday, but none are close to the first team yet.
Palmer, Lees, Thorniley, Penney
Joao, Matias, Reach
A particular take-away from the game against Stoke was how lacking Reach was in the first-half, seemingly just wandering around. Yet when he was moved to the left in the second-half he was suddenly revitalised, so I would fully expect him to occupy a clearer role on the wing.
The change of Pelupessy and bringing on Onomah in his place is mainly based on necessity. I personally like what Pelupessy brings to game, and his ability to cut out play, on many occasions I saw him keeping close to Joe Allen and limiting his role in the game well.
However, after seeing loanee Onomah for only twenty minutes, he seemed just as well equipped offensively as he was defensively, moving the ball forward quickly and intelligently. Maybe he isn’t ready to start but I’m sure his parent club, Tottenham, will be expecting him to be one of the first names on the team-sheet.
The usual argument of ‘keep the team the same’ remains, our recent strong performances have to come from somewhere, and there’s simply no need to tinker with a winning formula.
Predicted score: 1-1
Picture Credit: Sheffield Wednesday