Steel City Derby: Patience required as Sheffield Wednesday chase third straight home win
If Sheffield Wednesday are to topple arch rivals Sheffield United this weekend, the Owls may have to play a waiting game.
That is the view of Adam Reach as Wednesday look to maintain their impressive Championship form.
Wednesday are lying in ninth position after a seven-match unbeaten league run, trailing their city rivals by two points after the opening eight rounds of fixtures. Sixth-placed United missed the opportunity to go top of the table last weekend, losing 1-0 at home to Norwich City.
But few observers would disagree with Blades manager Chris Wilder’s assertion that the Owls enter the Steel City derby as the favourites to pick up maximum points. Wednesday have qualified for the play-offs twice in as many seasons and assembled one of the most expensive squads in the division. In stark contrast, United have spent considerably less in the transfer market and were plying their trade in League One last season.
Nonetheless, Reach believes the Owls may not have things all their own way when the two teams collide on Sunday.
“It could be very tight to begin with,” the left-sided player told The Star.
“Derbies are cagey and teams don’t usually win by three or four goals.
“Hopefully we score early and dominate from there but sometimes that doesn’t happen. With United losing against Norwich (last weekend), they might come to our place with a ‘let’s not get beaten attitude’, which some teams do when they come to Hillsborough.
“But we have done well every test we have come up against so far.
“We have picked up wins and we want our unbeaten run to continue.”
Reach is urging the fans to roar Carlos Carvalhal’s side on to victory.
“The fans have a massive part to play,” said utility ace Reach. “They have to realise sometimes we have to be patient and can’t get that goal early.
“They need to get behind us if we do fall behind. We hope that we don’t but sometimes it happens.
“When we attack the Kop end in the second half of games, it is always a bubbly atmosphere and there were times last season with the help of the fans when we turned games around from two goals down.
“It is a derby so we know it will be a tight affair and it is important the fans get behind us .
“There will be tackles and headers to be won but if we can get the ball down and play like we did in the first half at Cardiff at Hillsborough we should have enough to win.”
Although Wednesday were forced to settle for a point at high-flying Cardiff last Saturday, Reach was full of praise for Joost van Aken’s display at centre-half.
The Dutchman was commanding in the air and aggressive on the floor, restricting Kenneth Zohore to few sights at goal.
Van Aken stood up to the Bluebirds physical, direct approach, producing his best performance since arriving from SC Heerenveen in a deal thought to be in the region of £4m.
Reach, who feels he is currently in the best form of his Owls career, said: “We told him Cardiff would be a typical Championship team but I thought Joost handled himself really well against a big striker and the big centre-halves when they went forward.
“Since coming in, Joost has been fantastic. He has integrated well into the team. There is no language barrier and he has done tremendously well.”