Mitchell Waller / @MitchellWaller9
Hull come into this New Year’s Day fixture at Hillsborough on the back of a ‘smash and grab’ victory away at Loftus Road on Sunday. The home side dominated the opening stages of the game and deservedly went ahead when Chair’s effort was fired home past goalkeeper George Long.
But they were unable to hold on until the interval when Josh Bowlers forceful cross was spilt by Ranger’s goalkeeper Joe Lumley who gifted George Honeyman a simple rebounded finish.
Once again, the Tigers weren’t at the races in West London after displaying another poor performance but it was Jackson Irvine who made an intelligent run from a set piece to volley City ahead in the 89th minute.
The Owl’s who come into this fixture after losing their previous fixture at the hands of Cardiff City at Hillsborough, are enduring a tough festive period. They lost their last away fixture at Stoke City due to a double blow in injury time by the Potters.
Wednesday had managed to be unbeaten in their previous six fixtures before the Boxing Day tie (winning four and drawing two). The Owls are placed in 6th place on thirty nine points; only three points in front of the visitors. Given this, it is a vital fixture for City, as an Owls win would see them a full six points clear of the Tigers. This would mean it would be a heavy push back for Grant McCann’s men as they mean to impose themselves as a consistent and strong side competing for a top six finish come the end of the season.
The last time the two sides faced up against each other was on a cold Tuesday in October where Tom Eaves wore the hero’s cape as he scored the only goal of the fixture after being introduced onto the field only minutes before. The fixture was an entertaining spectacle in which both teams played aggressively with a desire to win. Additionally, Wednesday were backed by a large away following, but despite their presence, couldn’t lift their side who fell to a defeat.
City’s tough tackling defender Jordy De Wijs will have the job of taming Jordan Rhodes on New Years Day, the striker hasn’t exactly hit the ground running at Hillsborough and will want to prove himself to his manager as a contender to lead the line during Stephan Fletchers absence. Additionally, the Tigers midfield will have their hands full in handling Adam Reach who has proved himself to be a goal scoring jack-box in Wednesday’s side.
Sheffield Wednesday have often lined up in a 4-4-2, opting to play with two poachers up top and two banks of four behind them, however in their previous fixture against Cardiff City they played as a 4-2-3-1.
Despite heavy injury blows for Grant McCann’s side, he will stick to his favoured 4-2-3-1 system with a continuous predicament facing him in the midfield area and forward line. Leo Da Silva Lopes has nailed down the midfield spot with Jackson Irvine as a number 10, whilst the other central player is a toss up between George Honeyman and Daniel Batty.
The Tigers have been hit heavily by injury’s throughout the course of the season. With the only recognised left back being Brandon Fleming after Callum Elders hamstring injury on Boxing Day. Stephen Kingsley suffered a similar injury against QPR.
Reece Burke picked up a knock to his elbow in the first half at Loftus Road but should be able to play against the Owls after he soldiered on with a bandage around his elbow. City are still without midfielder Jon Toral who is still recovering from a knee injury and Leonardo Da Silva Lopes felt some discomfort during the game with his ankle but managed to soldier on to complete the ninety last time out.
Long-term absentee Kevin Stewart is still sidelined until early March. Whilst City are still without attacking options Norbert Balogh and Josh Magennis, with the Northern Ireland striker in contention to feature in the match day squad. Local lad Keane Lewis-Potter has missed the previous two fixtures due to illness and he is expected to make a return against Rotherham.
Rangers are without Fernando Forestieri who is still recovering from a knee injury heading into this New Year’s Day clash as both sides will be looking to begin the decade strongly.
It is notable to add that the tigers haven’t picked up a single point away against any Yorkshire side they have faced this season: losing 3-0 to Huddersfield, losing 3-1 to Barnsley and losing 2-0 at Leeds United all away from home.
Predicted Line Ups:
Sheffield Wednesday: Dawson, Palmer, Iorfa, Lees, Fox, Bannan, Murphy, Reach, Harris, Rhodes, Winnall
Hull City: Long, Lichaj, De Wijs, Burke, Pennington, Batty, Irvine, Honeyman, Bowler, Eaves, Bowen