Sheffield Wednesday: Owls face tough start to new season after 2016/17 fixtures release
At first glance, Play-Off finalists Wednesday appear to have been handed one of the toughest opening Championship sequences imaginable.
The fixture list certainly could have given them a kinder start than tussles against two newly-relegated sides, a promoted club and a big Yorkshire derby before the end of August.
On the opening weekend of the season, the Owls will entertain Aston Villa in front of the TV cameras on Sunday, August 7, kick-off 4:30pm.
It will be Roberto Di Matteo’s first competitive match in charge of Villa, who captured Bournemouth defender Tommy Elphick for a reported £3m fee earlier this week.
Di Matteo, who won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012, is seeking to turnaround Villa’s fortunes. The club finished rock-bottom of the Premier League last season.
Villa are a club who hold a special place in Barry Bannan’s heart. The Wednesday midfielder started his career at Villa Park, completing his education in Birmingham after moving down from Scotland.
After 61 appearances, the Scotland international left Villa in September 2013. Bannan joined Crystal Palace for an undisclosed fee, penning a three-year contract.
One player on Villa’s books who needs no introduction to Wednesdayites is Joe Bennett. The left-back spent the second half of the 2015/16 on loan at Hillsborough, making four starts. He was a steady deputy for Daniel Pudil.
It promises to be a mouth-watering opener and will be the first meeting between the two teams in nearly 15 years.
For Wednesday’s first away match, they will go to Norwich City, another side relegated fom the top-flight.
A busy first month sees them visit Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium on Tuesday, August 16, followed by a Hillsborough showdown with Leeds United. A trip to Brentford rounds off the Owls’ August programme.
Lee Bullen’s instant reaction on social media to the fixture list said it all.
“That start sums up the Championship.... Hardest league in the world to get out of,” tweeted the Wednesday coach.