More shocks to come as finishing line approaches

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WE ARE now approaching the most enthralling part of the season.

But you can drive yourself daft if you dwell on who will be playing whom over these next six weeks and try to assess where your team and their rivals will finish.

It is at times like this that I think of a time under David Pleat’s management of the Owls when their next five fixtures were Liverpool away, Manchester United at home, Spurs away, Arsenal at home and Chelsea away.

Even for a team respectably placed at 10th in the top flight, as Wednesday were back then, in December 1996, that sequence of games had some people wondering where the next point was coming from.

Who would have guessed that the Owls would emerge from it unbeaten, with a seven-point haul and with a step up to eighth in the table?

They won at Anfield and drew the other four games.

Similarly, of course, you can slip up when you don’t expect it - for example, when Wednesday lost at Exeter and Walsall this season by conceding late goals.

Darren Purse made the point in The Star recently that, across the board, surprise results seem to become increasingly common as the season nears its end, and teams who are down at the bottom can start beating teams at the top end, in their desperate struggle for survival.

It was an unexpected outcome when the Owls only just managed to scrape a draw against Walsall, and it would have been seen as a real shock if they had lost.

Dave Jones hit the nail on the head when he said after Tuesday’s game: “It’s strange, football; everybody would have taken a point on Saturday (at Notts County) and would have thought it would be three points tonight. That’s football.”

Regardless of whether forthcoming fixtures appear tough or not so tough, you can never really tell how the table is going to end up.

While I would not say that United’s two-point lead over the Owls and markedly superior goal difference are irrelevant, Rob Jones was wise to say that, with eight games left, a lot can happen during the next six weeks and that Wednesday must concentrate on what they can do and not on what others may or may not do.

Jermaine Johnson’s return weeks ahead of schedule is handy. There is probably no better impact player in the division than JJ.

It could asking a lot for him to find immediately the form he was in before he suffered a knee injury at Chesterfield last month. If he has not lost too much of an eedge, that could be important.

Even as a sub he can be very useful, but a return to his pre-Chesterfield exploits, which included four cracking goals, would make him a must in the side.

In the meantime, Michail Antonio has taken over as the explosive winger who excites supporters. Both of his strikes against Walsall which hit the bar were terrific but his second one was extraordinary, from a slightly wide and difficult position.

Antonio has also shown that he can score goals. Strikers Gary Madine and Ryan Lowe have hit all the four in the last two games, and a lean spell has ended.