Sheffield Wednesday: Five things we learned after Owls' trip to Charlton

Lee Bullen, left, and Carlos Carvalhal
Lee Bullen, left, and Carlos Carvalhal
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I pick out the key talking points after Sheffield Wednesday's 3-1 loss to Charlton Athletic. It was the Owls' first defeat in 12 matches.

1) Tiredness caught up with Owls

Fernando Forestieri

Fernando Forestieri

As head coach Carlos Carvalhal pointed out post-match, Wednesday failed to match Charlton's energy and intensity. The Addicks looked fresher, sharper and hungrier to go into the international break on a high note.

Too many members of Wednesday's team had off days and appeared fatigued following their seventh match in three weeks.

Some fans have criticised Carvalhal's team selection, claiming the Portuguese should have freshened up more of his side. Gary Hooper was their only alteration from the team who had gone toe-to-toe with high-flying Brighton and Hove Albion last Tuesday. Liam Palmer, Rhoys Wiggins, Jeremy Helan, Jose Semedo and Lewis McGugan all could have featured.

But Carvalhal was reluctant to rotate his big squad, with Wednesday having recorded four clean sheets in their previous five outings. His decision ultimately back-fired.

Sam Hutchinson

Sam Hutchinson

2) You can't take your eye off the ball for one minute in the Championship

Carvalhal rejected suggestions the Owls were complacent at The Valley as the Addicks turned the formbook upside down to seal their first victory in 12 matches.

Charlton, lying in the Championship relegation zone, have a lengthy injury list and a lot of untried, unknown foreign players yet caught Wednesday by surprise with their quick, enterprising football. They looked anything but a side struggling at the wrong end of the table, playing with confidence and belief.

Consistency is crucial in the second-tier of English football and the Owls have made great strides in recent months, stringing an 11-match unbeaten run together prior to Saturday's slip-up.

Most bookmakers had the match down at the weekend as an away win so it just goes to show you can't take anything for granted as football has a nasty habit of bringing you back down to earth with a bump.

3) Sam Hutchinson's disciplinary record is a concern

Let me start with the positives. Hutchinson is in the best form of his Owls career and is a key cog in their midfield. In recent weeks, the former Chelsea trainee has been outstanding, producing a series of fine performances.

Deployed in the holding role in the middle of the park, Hutchinson has stood out, breaking up opponents attacks and giving an extra layer of protection to Wednesday's back four. His combative style of play allows Barry Bannan and Kieran Lee to express themselves in the final third.

But Wednesday will now be without Hutchinson's services until December 1 after the 26-year-old picked up his 10th caution in 15 matches this season, triggering an automatic two-match suspension.

No player has accumulated more cards in the country than Hutchinson. It is a big blow for the Owls that he is ruled out of their next two fixtures with Huddersfield Town and Blackburn Rovers. Although they have an adequate replacement in Jose Semedo, Wednesday will miss Hutchinson's steel and drive.

4) Fernando Forestieri scores all types of goals

There was a lot made, and rightly so, of Wednesday's misfiring forward line last season. Atdhe Nuhiu and Stevie May missed a plethora of clear-cut, goal-scoring opportunities which cost the Owls points. They received plenty of criticism, although there were not enough contributions from other departments to ease the pressure on the duo.

You have to pay big transfer fees to land top forwards but the £3m Wednesday forked out for Forestieri looks increasingly like money well spent.

The 25-year-old has grabbed five goals in 10 Owls starts. His first came with his head while his strikes against Hull City and Rotherham United were predatory finishes.

What is frightening for the rest of the league is that Forestieri has yet to hit top form and will get better the more matches he gets under his belt.

5) Fans need to keep things in perspective after Charlton defeat

Wednesday let themselves down at Charlton, failing to reach the high standards they have set.

But the players deserves credit following an exceptional run. The Owls are ninth in the standings after 16 matches, four points adrift of the play-off placings, and reached the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup for the first time since 2002 after humbling Premier League giants Arsenal at Hillsborough last month.

Wednesday have earned rave reviews for their eye-catching, attractive brand of football and Carvalhal should rightly take a lot of the plaudits for managing to gel 16 new players together so quickly.

What happened at Charlton could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. It may re-focus one or two tired minds and enable Wednesday to get some of their injured players, such as Marco Matias and Michael Turner, out of the treatment room.

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