Sheffield Wednesday extended their unbeaten run to eight games tonight with a South Yorkshire Derby win over Rotherham United, with Fernando Forestieri and Barry Bannan putting in superb shifts on the night to secure a 2-1 win.
The victory takes Wednesday within one point of the playoff places (for now), and the heart and quality shown by the players in Rotherham will be very pleasing for Carlos Carvalhal, who now has a 50% win ratio since joining. This eight-game run is SWFC’s best unbeaten run since February 2014, though it will be heavily tested against Arsenal next week.
I got a rare chance to actually watch the boys on TV for this game, and even though the first half was a bit cagey, the second half gave me even more optimism about what this Wednesday team could actually go on to achieve. Maybe not this season, but it feels like something is coming. Carlos had a dream afterall.
Once again, as has been the case in most of Wednesday’s wins this season, victory came because of a clinicalness going forward, even though overall possession was not in their favour (55%/45%). Wednesday had less possession but more touches (477/487), and despite having inferior pass completion (67%/66%), they were far more effective on the ball.
Bannan, who alongside Forestieri, will be most fans’ choice for Man of the Match, had more touches than any other player on the field (63), made the second-most amount of overall passes (49) and accurate passes (34).
Meanwhile, as is becoming the norm when he plays, Ross Wallace played a crucial role in chance creation, picking out more key passes (4) than anybody else on the night. Between him and Jack Hunt (3), they made nearly as many as the whole Millers team (8).
More shots (10/16), more shots on target (2/6) and more shots blocked (1/2) I think says a lot about Wednesday’s attacking threat in this game. The fact that Wednesday managed to pick 12 key passes to Rotherham’s 8 bodes well for a team that is certainly managing to create much more than they used to.
Forestieri played a big role in this performance, grabbing a goal, an assist (sort of) and having more shots (5) and shots on target (3) than any other Wednesday or Rotherham player. He actually had more shots on target than the entire Rotherham team combined (2).
Both the Argentine and Bannan completed two dribbles each, and the pair of them were a constant threat to Rotherham and their defence. Bannan seems to have everything but an end product at the moment, however it is surely a matter of time before his impressive form results in a goal or two.
One of the most impressive stats in the game was that, of the 21 tackles that the Owls attempted through the 90 minutes, they managed to complete 20 of them. That’s a whopping 95%. They also made more interceptions (17/20) and more clearance (15/20) than their opponents.
Surprisingly, on top of his offensive work, Forestieri also managed to top the charts in terms of tackling, completing 100% of his seven tackles, proving that he’s not just a force going forward.
Sam Hutchinson once again did a great job clearing up in front of the back four, making four interceptions, while Glenn Loovens and Tom Lees were solid at the back, making four clearances each, a tally only bettered by Danny Collins (6).
Wednesday’s centre pairing and defensive midfielder were also incredibly strong in the air once again, with Lees (8), Loovens (7) and Hutchinson (7) winning 22 of the 34 aerial battles that the Owls won on the night. Overall SWFC won 57% of all the aerial battles.
The Millers only managed to successful dribble past a Wednesday player (Hutchinson) once, with Chris Maguire managing to beat him in the second half.
In whole, it was a genuinely good Wednesday performance. While Forestieri and Bannan really stood out, it was a cracking team performance from Westwood all the way up to Joao, and it’s great to see a team that is finally playing good possession football, but also doing something with it.
Forestieri and Bannan seem to be offering that creative spark that we’ve been lacking, while Hutchinson is proving to be very solid in the centre, allowing others to have a bit more of a free reign. I also think that Joao, who was playing in front of the Portuguese national team coach in Rotherham, has some serious potential.
Now, how’s that Arsenal team looking?
Best Of The Best*
Most Passes – Danny Collins (RUFC) – 50
Best Pass Completion – Matt Derbyshite (RUFC) – 90
Most Successful Dribbles – Fernando Forestieri/Barry Bannan (SWFC) – 2
Most Successful Tackles – Fernando Forestieri (SWFC) – 7
Most Key Passes – Ross Wallace (SWFC) – 4
Most Interceptions – Sam Hutchinson/Barry Bannan (SWFC) – 4
Most Crosses – Lewis Buxton/Ross Wallace (RUFC/SWFC) – 5
All stats via WhoScored.com
*Played more than 15 minutes