Alan Biggs: Win over Arsenal could be the first of many big occasions for Sheffield Wednesday

by Pete McKee
by Pete McKee
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To say beating, nay thrashing, Arsenal was the greatest night of Sheffield Wednesday’s relatively barren recent history misses the best point of all. It’s what the future holds that’s more exciting.

Football is full of one-off glories.

The far deeper thrill of Tuesday night at Hillsborough in the Capital One Cup was the exultant feeling among 30,000 Owls fans that this was only a start, just another step – albeit stunning - along the way to something longer lasting and more meaningful.

And it was there even before a ball was kicked; before a cunning Carlos Carvalhal game plan and three quality goals dismantled an admittedly inept Arsenal whose manager, Arsene Wenger, creditably paid tribute to “very dynamic and deserving” opposition.

I believe the pre-match loan signing of Norwich striker Gary Hooper, an announcement that surprised everyone at the club, was carefully stage-managed by Dejphon Chansiri to make that statement.

It came in the wake of declarations that Wednesday were not on the look-out for players.

Let’s not be fooled again. I think an owner who loves springing surprises is again likely to be very active – with January in mind.

This column’s firm impression is that Chansiri will commit more substantial funds in the next transfer window – providing the club is competitively placed in the Championship.

The difference is that we are talking only one player, maybe two, if the gap can be bridged on the back of what is already an astonishing 16 signings.

Chansiri timetabled a two-season push for the Premier League but he’ll take it in one if he can get it. And why not?

There is a chance to be taken, you can’t buy this mood, this momentum.

Nine games unbeaten and a squad that can put out two strong teams, vary tactics accordingly and approach two forthcoming home games, Nottingham Forest and leaders Brighton, with boundless confidence. But there is something else – it doesn’t begin to border on the swagger and complacency that was evident in the body language of Wenger’s much-vaunted squad in midweek.

Carvalhal was restrained, almost subdued, in victory, keeping a firm focus on so much positive energy not going to waste.

He’ll play horses-for-courses once more, perhaps suggesting the unleashing of Lewis McGugan against former club Forest and a starting shift for Atdhe Nuhiu over the clearly gifted Lucas Joao who, along with Ross Wallace and midfield destroyer Sam Hutchinson (a forgotten phrase for a throwback player) grabbed the goals on Tuesday.

It’s the biggest compliment you can pay Nuhiu that he is part of the core of Britishness Carvalhal demands, playing like an English centre forward despite being Austrian.

“People don’t realise the fear he puts into opposition players and managers,” says Lee Bullen, Carlos’s number two.

“They hate playing him – they don’t know how to handle him.

“Yes, he can be frustrating but he takes care of defenders and makes space for others like Fernando Forestieri; there’s clear respect between them.

“And Joao, who’s going to be a fantastic player when he picks up the British way. And if Atdhe became a 15-20 goal a season man, then in the past you’d be thinking he wouldn’t be here much longer.”

Great point about the difference just a few goals would make, while acknowledging Wednesday have seldom been in a better position to keep their better players. And Nuhiu is in that bracket now that, as Bullen says, “he is well and truly winning over his doubters.”

Then there is Hooper to fit in somewhere.

Hard to see a weakness but, if one develops, you can almost guarantee Chansiri will fill it with a wad of cash.

And remember, this is for starters.