Paying the penalty again and a major problem at the back: The big issues from Sheffield Wednesday's defeat to West Brom

It was a thump back down to reality for Sheffield Wednesday on yesterday evening as the Owls were beaten 3-0 by promotion-chasing West Bromwich Albion, but the performance was not deserving of the scoreline as Garry Monk suffered his first defeat since the restart.
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A Charlie Austin penalty in the first half and a Matheus Pereira brace in the second was enough to put SWFC to bed despite a spirited showing at the start of the game, but ultimately it was the Baggies’ quality that shone through.

I had a look at some of the main talking points…

See the future

Before the negatives, I think it’s worth looking at the fact that there were seven academy graduates in last night’s Wednesday squad – that’s something that could certainly bode well for the future.

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Starters, Joe Wildsmith and Liam Palmer, have plenty of Wednesday appearances under their belt, as does Cameron Dawson, but this season seems to be just the start for young Liam Shaw, Alex Hunt, Ciaran Brennan and Ben Hughes – all of whom are 20 or younger – as Monk looks to bring the average age of the side down.

Expand the squad

That being said, while it’s promising to see some of the youngsters coming through, there’s no questioning the gulf in quality in terms of WBA’s squad depth, you just have to look at the substitutes they brought on. The Owls need to fix that for next season.

Sheffield Wednesday's Dominic Iorfa on the chase. Pic Steve EllisSheffield Wednesday's Dominic Iorfa on the chase. Pic Steve Ellis
Sheffield Wednesday's Dominic Iorfa on the chase. Pic Steve Ellis

While Monk has been left with a bit of a skeleton squad following the expiration of a number of contracts this week, Slavan Bilic brought on experienced internationals from the Republic of Ireland, Nigeria, Poland and Wales.

They also have arguably the best player in the league in Matheus Pereira, who obviously ended his five-month wait for a goal with a brace at Hillsborough.

One centre back isn’t enough

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Dominic Iorfa was the only actual centre back that started for Wednesday last night, and that was always a potential recipe for disaster.

Liam Palmer has done exceptionally well since converting from a RB to a RCB, but with Tom Lees carrying a hamstring injury, Moses Odubajo got thrown into the deep end in a position at LCB that he’s never played before.

With David Bates not extending his loan, Wednesday’s remaining senior central defenders are Iorfa, Lees and Julian Börner, and if two of them are out injured then Monk’s got a bit of a problem.

Fingers crossed, however, that both Lees and Börner will be back available against Swansea.

Talk about Mo

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One of the most talked about players last night was Odubajo. He had a very mixed bag of a game as he dealt very well with Pereira in the first half before giving away a penalty, and continued with some excellent defensive work in the second half but lost Pereira as he made it 2-0.

The penalty is the biggest talking point, really. Aside from the debate of whether it was the right decision or not – it did look a bit soft – it’s now the fourth penalty that the former Brentford man has given away in 18 games this season. No player in the Championship has given away more. He’s one ahead of Yoann Barbet, Elliott Bennett and Harlee Dean.

No money? No worries

After reports emerged earlier in the week that some Owls players hadn’t been paid in full this month, Monk was quick to quash talk of it being a distraction for the players, insisting that it’s being resolved and that it’s ‘no issue for us’.

Speaking after the game, Monk said, “Everyone in the camp is very, very happy with the explanation, it’s no issue for us. We don’t want to use that as an excuse, it’s not a distraction.”

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“We had a conversation and I spoke to the players, they spoke to the club and we spoke all together. It will be resolved and we’re all happy with that situation, everyone that is here.”

Stats don’t show everything

Wednesday led the way in a number of key stats last night; most shots, pass success, dribbles, aerials won, tackles, key passes, corners and more. But not in the main stat: goals scored.

The Owls had five more shots than WBA at Hillsborough (14/9), but the difference was that the Baggies had four on target – scoring three of them – compared to Wednesday’s two.

Also, you’ve got to be doing more with 11 corners, and four accurate crosses (three from Jacob Murphy) from 25 is not a great return is it?

Don’t despair

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Wednesday lost to probably the best team they’ll face in this final run in, and for large parts of the game looked like the better side.

Yes they need to be more clinical, and make better decisions in the final third, but Swansea City, and Preston North End, and Queens Park Rangers aren’t as good as West Brom, and the result last night shouldn’t overshadow the previous two showings.

Monk said afterwards, "It was definitely not a scoreline that we deserved. I have just told the players. There have been way more positives from the three games. There are of course things we still need to get at.

"We are creating good situations offensively. We looked good defensively, not so much in the second half, but we were chasing the game."

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This new look SWFC have started well since the lockdown, now they need to show they can bounce back from defeat.

More Wednesday news:

Owls ace on new system and ‘not looking over shoulder’

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