Sheffield Wednesday will be looking to get back to winning ways in The Championship as they take on Hull City at Hillsborough on Saturday afternoon.
The Owls picked up another point in their last outing as they held Reading to a goalless draw at the Madejski Stadium. It was a poor game in which both sides struggled to create many clear cut opportunities.
As for Hull, they were dealt another huge blow as they blew a two goal lead at home to Bristol City and ended up losing the game 3-2. This has led to further questions about Leonid Slutsky’s future as manager of the club.
How they've fared so far
It has not been a great start to the campaign for Wednesday who have enjoyed a successful last couple of years under the management of Carlos Carvalhal. The Portuguese coach led the Owls to back-to-back play-off finishes in his first two years in charge but it has not quite clicked for his side so far this season.
The Owls have badly missed Fernando Forestieri in recent weeks who is an integral part of their attacking play. This explains why Carvalhal’s side have really struggled to create many chances going forward which is ultimately the reason why they find themselves in mid-table and not even close to the play-off places.
However, despite the fact they have only won six of their opening 19 league matches, they still find themselves sat just six points off the play-off places. Due to how tight the division is this season, any side can push themselves into play-off contention by stringing together a couple of wins. This is exactly what Carvalhal will be hoping his side can do in the lead up to a busy Christmas period.
Wednesday without doubt still have the quality within their ranks to mount a promotion challenge. The likes of Gary Hooper, Jordan Rhodes and Steven Fletcher are all quality strikers at this level and Barry Bannan is one of the best midfielders in the division. They just need one or two wins to gain confidence and build the basis to go on a run which could turn their season around. They will be hoping that they can start a positive run of results on Saturday afternoon against Slutsky’s side.
As for Hull, they have really struggled in The Championship this season following their relegation from the Premier League last time out. Off-the-field issues have not helped matters but there is no doubt that with the squad that Slutsky has at his disposal, City should be higher in the table.
A play-off push was seen as a realistic target for the Tigers at the start of the season but they currently sit just four points clear of the relegation zone. It would take a huge effort to mount a promotion challenge from this position so focus has most likely turned to just keeping the club in the division.
One of the highlights of their season so far is the rise of 20-year-old forward Jarrod Bowen who has already scored 10 goals. He is now one of the first names of Slutsky’s teamsheet and is one of their biggest threats going forward. He will be desperate to add to his tally at Hillsborough on Saturday.
Last time they met
Wednesday last played Hull in The Championship Play-Off Final in a 1-0 defeat in May 2016 at Wembley. A wonder strike from Mohamed Diame late on in the second-half was enough to secure the Tigers promotion to the top flight. The Owls will be desperate for revenge on Saturday afternoon.
Carvalhal will be unable to select defender Tom Lees in his starting line-up for Saturday's game as he misses out through injury. However, Carvalhal did have some good news on some of the long-term absentees in his squad. Sam Hutchinson is expected to be back in contention before the end of the year whilst both George Boyd and Forestieri could be back in the new year. Having both Boyd and Forestieri back involved would be a huge boost to Wednesday's attacking options.
As for Hull, it will be interesting to see whether Slutsky will opt to stick with a team that played so well for an hour against Bristol City last time out or make some changes. Both Kamil Grosicki and Nouha Dicko started on the bench in that one so Slutsky does have plenty of attacking options at his disposal but it is the defence which is currently the main concern.