PREVIEW: Barnsley FC vs SWFC

Another game gone, another game closer to relegation: the midweek game against Huddersfield Town did little to ease Wednesday’s woes.

Now, however, the Owls have the small task of getting something against a Barnsley side who are unbeaten in twelve, winning an incredible nine of those.

The Tykes, under Valerien Ismael, have seen a rejuvenation no-one saw coming. The highly energetic system implemented under the Frenchman has reaped huge rewards: the Tykes have every reason to make it to the Premier League at the end of the campaign. 

If you take ‘Barnsley FC’ away from that squad, I would love nothing more than to see them in the promised land.

The Tykes in the Premier League, however, would be yet another adding of salt to some incredibly sore wounds.

One man Wednesday need to contain will be TikTok-making American, Daryl Dike. The striker has netted five in ten appearances since joining in January from Orlando City – including a brace against Wycombe Wanderers on Wednesday.

Defensively, Barnsley have been fairly sound – with 11 clean sheets. The back three has consisted of near-ever-presents Mads Andersen and Michael Helik, aswell as either Michael Sollbauer or Toby Sibbick.

For the Owls, we seem to be running out of any fresh ideas.

The three at the back on Wednesday was solid yet, as ever, we seem completely inept going forward.

The injury to Sam Hutchinson is a big blow and it seems like it will touch and go as to whether he is fit. For me, I would refrain from rushing him back to action: too often have we seen a recurrence in injuries from doing so (*cough* *cough* Massimo Luongo and Chey Dunkley)

Therefore I would move Tom Lees centrally and re-introduce Osaze Urhoghide. 

I would also be inclined to drop Liam Palmer, bring Harris back to right-midfielder, and introduce Elias Kachunga to the more advanced right-winger position. 

How I would line up – Westwood: Urhoghide, Lees, Borner; Harris, Pelupessy, Bannan, Reach; Kachunga, Rhodes, Windass

Score Prediction – 1-1. Really can’t see us winning, but cannot bring myself to back a loss against the Tykes. 

Ahead of the game, and as part of our ‘Opposition View’, I wrote to Tom(@TomOTPE) from OnThePontyEnd.com about all things Barnsley FC…

Which players do Wednesday need to keep their eyes on?

I’ll give you three players who you should keep your eyes peeled for. One from each third of Val’s vertical XI:

Firstly, Mads Andersen. From what was a shaky first 6 months at Oakwell, the ‘Great Dane’ came back a different player after lockdown and has formed an outstanding partnership this term alongside Michał Helik. He has also contributed 5 assists and one goal at the other end of the pitch. 

In our middle third, I think you really need to try and keep Callum Brittain quiet if you want to get a result. Not only seemingly possessing three lungs, but his balls into the box are (despite this sounding a tad hyperbolic) ‘Beckham-esque’. The spreadsheet threw out another gem when we acquired him for £400K from MK Dons.

In our final third you quite simply have to keep your eyes glued to Daryl Dike. The big man is quite possibly the USA’s greatest contribution to the world since MGMT’s ‘oracular spectacular’ album in 2007, and my gosh has Dike provided our side with an Electric Feel up top.

Daryl Dike (centre-right) celebrates his winning goal against Birmingham City. Image: skysports.com

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

If he wasn’t injured I would probably say Dom Iorfa. In my own personal opinion Iorfa is a top class centre-half at this level and no doubt whatsoever you have missed him massively during your battle against the drop. However, seeing as though he isn’t currently fit I will say Fisayo Dele-Bashiru. A dynamic player who has the potential to have a quality career in the Championship and beyond.

How would you describe Valerien Ismael’s tenure at the club?

I would describe it as a ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. We may not play the prettiest football at times but it is quite miraculous where we find ourselves in the table, and he really is getting quite the tune out of this bunch of lads. I absolutely adore the man. Every club deserves a Valérien Ismaël.

Where do you think you’ll finish this season?

I say this tentatively but with the run we’re on I can see us certainly landing in the top 6 come May. I’ll speculate a 5th place birth for the Reds, who knows where we go after that!

Finally, what’s your score prediction?

Barnsley haven’t lost in 12, and the Owls haven’t won in 8. How could it go wrong?! I imagine despite the form-book suggesting otherwise it will be a tight affair with the Reds just coming out on top. 2-1 Tykes. 

Many thanks to Tom for taking the time to answer the questions and good luck for the rest of the season (not sure I mean it this time, but say it every week!)

UTO!

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