Sheffield Wednesday: Massimo Luongo on the tactical shift in midfield that could make a difference for Garry Monk's Owls

Of all the matchday statistics that are so readily bandied around in football nowadays, only one truly matters – goals scored.

Friday, 29th November 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Friday, 29th November 2019, 6:07 pm

And it’s quite possible that of all the teams in the Championship this season, Sheffield Wednesday feel that more acutely than any other.

Wednesday evening saw another promising display by Garry Monk’s men, who blitzed Birmingham City in terms of possession stats, entries into the attacking third, chances created. The list, should anyone care to read it, goes on.

But for all the talk of encouragement, for all the periods of domination, Sheffield Wednesday walked away with only a point – against one of the division’s similarly out-of-form sides – to stretch their winless run to five.

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Much has been said about the positives that can be taken from the performance – Dominic Iorfa is the most glaring example alongside Fernando Forestieri’s impact from the bench – and another could be the tactical shift that saw Wednesday dominate the midfield.

The selection of Kieran Lee and Massimo Luongo alongside Barry Bannan gave the Owls legs in midfield that they have lacked in stages this season.

And it was Luongo’s performance that caught the eye on his return to the side after an extended injury lay-off.

The Australian international was pushed further up the field in an attempt to support lone striker Steven Fletcher and offered a notable attacking threat, particularly in the first half.

Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Massimo Luongo has scored two goals this season

And it’s a decision Garry Monk could plump for again, particularly at home, utilising the balance that the 27-year-old brings to the side.

Luongo pulled the trigger on four of Wednesday’s 24 shots, was involved in the build-up to Kieran Lee’s guilt-edged chance in the first half and made 24 passes in the attacking third – more than any of his team mates aside from Bannan.

Explaining the role he was asked to play after Wednesday’s game, Luongo said: “Today we played three midfielders who tried to dictate the play a little bit.

“Me and Keiran (Lee), were trying to expose them in the pockets, we've got the legs, we were trying to hit them in the channels. And we had to try and help Fletch a little bit, so he didn't have to do as much running.

“I thought it worked. We caused them some problems.

“Unfortunately we went a goal down and we had to change a few things. It's a different role for me.

“I used to do it, I haven't done it for a long time, but I think I've got good legs and can get up and down the pitch. I've just come back from injury but I do feel like I can do that quite easily.”

Life is different on the road, of course, and while Wednesday may prefer the safety net of Sam Hutchinson’s presence in their midfield three in an attempt to keep things tight at Charlton, Luongo’s presence going forward may well become more and more influential.