West Bromwich Albion v Sheffield Wednesday; The Hawthorns, Tuesday 3rd October 2023, 8pm
Saturday’s excellent performance and result at the home of one of the division’s form teams will certainly have raised expectations amongst Baggies fans as they welcome the team currently bottom of the Championship to the Hawthorns on Tuesday night.
Sheffield Wednesday are yet to win a match in any competition this season with their only success being a progression to the second round of the Carabao Cup by means of a penalty shoot out as they were held at Hillsborough by League Two Stockport County back in August. They have picked up just two points from their nine league games so far – a 0-0 draw at Elland Road and a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough – and they have lost their last two games by three goals to nil.
If Albion can replicate the level of their performance at Deepdale, it is difficult to see anything other than a home win, but football isn’t that simple, of course, and Xisco Muñoz’s team will present a very different challenge to that posed by Preston North End on Saturday.
The Hillsborough club are enduring a difficult season – after a remarkable play-off success when they came back from a 4-0 deficit in the first leg of the semi-final before beating Barnsley at Wembley in stoppage time at the end of extra time, former Albion favourite, Darren Moore, resigned as their manager following a dispute with club owner, Dejphon Chansiri. Former Watford boss, Muñoz, was appointed but he has so far failed to get the team to spark with another former Albion man, Carlton Palmer, believing that he was the wrong appointment for the club at which he made most appearances in his career. Chansiri threw the club into further turmoil before their match with Sunderland on Friday night by stating that he would not be putting any more money in the club following insults from fans directed at him and his family.
The Owls were busy in the transfer window over the summer bringing in a dozen new players, seven of them permanently. Two notable loan signings include Jeff Hendrick from Newcastle United and Ashley Fletcher from Watford. Muñoz has drawn criticism from fans in that he has left many of the promotion-winning side from last season out of the side, but there has been very little consistency in selection with the Spaniard having used 25 players already this season. Two of last season’s “old guard”, Wednesday legend Barry Bannan and Wembley goalscorer Josh Windass, are both doubtful for the match but local commentators suggest that predicting the line up this season is pretty much guesswork with Muñoz making frequent changes in his search for a solution to their problems.
Given the last two line ups, it is a similar story for Albion fans looking to predict Carlos Corberán’s starting eleven. He has made five changes in each of the last two matches, but while some will point to the adage that you shouldn’t change a winning team, I doubt very much that we will see the same eleven that started at Deepdale. CC has been clear that he is using his squad to cover the run of three games in seven days and I’m expecting to see BTA restored to the starting line up after not featuring at all on Saturday, with the potential for other changes as well.
Although it looked like a back four at Deepdale, Corberán insists that it was the same formation as used previously with Phillips and Furlong at wing back, but the former was certainly allowed a lot of freedom in attacking areas – I guess it just demonstrates that we shouldn’t really worry about formations too much.
I’d certainly like to see Mowatt and Diangana starting again such was their level of performance on Saturday, while Furlong, Bartley and Phillips all made the Championship Team of the Week and would be unlucky to lose out. However, with CC keen to keep players fresh and another tough away game coming up on Friday, it could be that some of the best performers from Preston might be rested.
The tempo, intensity and quality of the team’s play at Deepdale has set a standard that they will be trying to match in every game going forward. We had seen short spells of excellent play before this season, but that was the first time the levels were maintained for 90 minutes and it proves that this squad is capable to competing for a top six spot.
The question is, of course, can they produce those levels, or something close to them, on a consistent basis. A similar display on Tuesday evening will get the Baggies fans believing again.
Albion first met The Wednesday, as they were then known, in the third round of the FA Cup in February 1891. The match took place at Wednesday’s Olive Grove ground and the visitors won 2-0 thanks to goals from Tom Pearson and Willie Groves. The draw for the third round of the following season’s FA Cup also brought the two clubs together again, this time at the home of the Throstles, Stoney Lane, but the result was the same with the hosts progressing.
In the summer of that year, Wednesday were elected to the expanded Football League and the first league meeting between the sides took place at the Olive Grove in January 1893. It proved to be a tough day for the visitors as the hosts won 6-0, but Albion gained revenge in the return fixture a couple of month’s later with Harry Boyd, Roddie McLeod and Tom Pearson securing a 3-0 home victory.
The Throstles’ biggest home win over Wednesday was achieved a few years later at Stoney Lane in April 1895. “Jasper” Geddes grabbed a brace with further goals from Tom Perry, Thomas Green, Roddie McLeod and Tom Hutchinson making the final score 6-0. At the Hawthorns, the best result was in November 1938 – Meynell Burgin scored twice with Ike Clarke, Doug Whitcomb and Jeff Spencer also scoring in a 5-1 win in Division Two.
The Wednesday’s biggest win at Albion was in April 1912 – a fortnight after the Titanic went down, the Baggies were sunk by a hat trick from David McLean and a Sam Kirkman double – Fred Morris scored a consolation for the hosts in a 5-1 defeat.
“Sheffield” was added to the name of the club in 1929 and the biggest win at the Hawthorns by the newly named club was in December 1956 when Vic Buckingham’s team suffered a rare thumping at home with the delightfully named Redfern Froggatt scoring a brace in a 4-1 win.
Albion are currently enjoying an eight-match unbeaten run against the Owls, five of which have been victories including a league double in the last season they shared a division, the COVID-affected 2019/20 campaign. Wednesday’s last win in this fixture was at the Hawthorns in April 2007 when Deon Burton scored the only goal of the game – the hosts finished with nine men when both Neil Clement and Darren Carter were sent off in stoppage time.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
1 Jul 2020 – League Championship
Sheffield Wednesday 0
West Bromwich Albion 3 (Austin (pen), Pereira (2))
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
23 Nov 2019 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Robson-Kanu, Austin (pen))
Sheffield Wednesday 1 (Fletcher (pen))
Albion’s Record against Sheffield Wednesday