PREVIEW: SWFC vs Norwich City

Without sounding too pessimistic, the Owls will need a minor miracle to avoid another loss when they host league-leaders, Norwich City.

The Canaries come to Hillsborough with the chance to extend their gap from Swansea (who sit third) to ten points – a near-insurmountable amount. 

Well-run both on and off the pitch, they epitomise everything Wednesday should aspire to become. By keeping the core nucleus of their Premier League squad in Emi Buendia, Todd Cantwell and Max Aarons, the Norfolk-based club have demonstrated the ultimate showing of faith – and just look how well it’s served them. Perhaps a club down at S2 might want to take note!

In game, Norwich have excelled at both ends of the pitch. In attack, top scorer Teemu Pukki has notched 20 goals – the Canaries themselves have a mightily impressive 51. Defensively, they have been just as successful, conceding only 25 goals or 0.7 per game: a joint league-best.

For the Owls, it’s now six defeats on the trot and relegation a near certainty. As well as the lack of inevitable frustration, a positive of having no midweek game was that Darren Moore has been afforded a real period of training time with the squad – the Canaries are the last team you would then want to play, however.

With Borner suspended, I wouldn’t be against dropping Sam Hutchinson into the backline – alongside Tom Lees.

That would allow Moore to drop Bannan back into a defensive midfield role, alongside Liam Shaw. To fill the No.10 role, I think Izzy Brown is the right man. *That* corner aside, I feel Brown has shown enough to warrant a real run in behind the lone striker. 

As the lone man, I still think Paterson is the right man. A workhorse, the Scot just needs continued service. 

To provide that service, Josh Windass and Kadeem Harris. Both players, however, are the dictionary definition of ‘inconsistent’ and need to find form if Wednesday are to stand any chance of getting something in this game.

How I would line up

Wildsmith; Urhoghide, Lees, Hutchinson, Penney; Shaw, Bannan; Harris, Brown, Windass; Paterson

Score Prediction

0-2 Norwich City. For the the first time this season, I’m simply unable to avoid predicting an Owls loss. The Canaries are a class above and outshine Wednesday in every position. A real tough ask.

Ahead of the game, and as part of our ‘Opposition Preview’, I spoke to Norwich City reporter, Connor Southwell (@cjsouthwell1902)…

Which players do Wednesday need to keep their eyes on?

There are two main ones for me, Emi Buendia and Teemu Pukki.

The pair have an almost telepathic understanding and that has seen them link up for numerous goals during the past month. 

Buendia makes football look effortless. He is the best player in the Championship and, in many ways, the real travesty is that he is playing at this level. He’s far too good for it. 

10 goals and assists is an elite club and he’s the first member. Pukki can’t stop scoring and is a threatening prospect for any opponent.

This is a different Norwich side. A more pragmatic and defensively resolute one. But the two standouts remain the same from two years ago.

Teemu Pukki (left) and Emi Buendia (right). Image: canaries.co.uk

If you could bring one Wednesday player to Norwich City FC, who would it be and why?

Great question. I can see Barry Bannan really excelling in a Daniel Farke side. His technical quality is there for all to see. 

Although Norwich have headed in a different direction in terms of midfielders who can compete physically, I still think Bannan would be admired by Farke and his staff. 

How would describe Daniel Farke’s tenure at the club?

If he manages to get Norwich promoted again, then you’d have to say it’s been highly successful. 

The one thing supporters admire about Farke is that he understands them. He doesn’t talk down to them and tries to be honest, sometimes that’s not necessarily a good thing. 

He plays an attractive style of football and developed a considerable amount of young players that have either excelled for the club or been sold for major money.

It’s fair to say this club lacked direction before he arrived, now it’s in a much better place.

Wednesday could well do with a sporting director, just how successful has Stuart Webber been?

Speak to anyone inside the walls of the Colney and they will credit him for the club’s success. 

He has formed a culture, rejuvenated the youth academy and the recruitment has been excellent on the whole. He’s honest, intelligent and has a clear strategy. 

I think football clubs are waking up to the success of this model now, it’s certainly the modern way to run a club. 

He’s already announced his intention to leave at the end of his contract in 2022, that will pose a fresh challenge for the club. Look at how hard Huddersfield have found it since his departure.

Where do you think you’ll finish this season?

Given the cushion at the top of the table, you’d hope they can win the league from here. I’m going with 1st. 

Finally, what’s your score prediction?

I think this will be tougher than some expect. 2-1 Norwich.

Many thanks to Connor for taking the time to answer the questions and good luck for the rest of the season (just not today!)

UTO!

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