The story of Sheffield Wednesday 2 Swansea City 2 and what Garry Monk's side must address over the international break

So is the Owls' glass half full or half empty after a little over a third of the Championship season?

By Dom Howson
Saturday, 9th November 2019, 1:05 pm
Updated Sunday, 10th November 2019, 1:43 pm
Keiren Westwood fumbles from a corner for Swansea's opener

It seems to change on a weekly basis for Wednesdayites.

The third international break is a good opportunity to take stock and there are reasons for optimism.

Not only are the Owls hovering just outside the play-off positions, but they have yet to taste defeat under manager Garry Monk at Hillsborough in the Championship and suffered just two losses from his 10 league matches (The majority of Wednesdayites would have gladly taken seventh in the table after 16 outings, particularly in the wake of Steve Bruce's controversial exit in mid-July).

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Monk's Wednesday side created a plethora of goal-scoring opportunities against high-riding Swansea City on Saturday and could have been out of sight after an impressive, dominant opening 25 minutes. Deploying an attack-minded 4-4-2 formation, there was real confidence and purpose about their play as the Swans, well-renowned for their neat, intricate passing football, struggled to retain possession. It was pleasing to see the Owls adopt an aggressive, front foot approach.

Given top defender Julian Börner missed out through illness and midfield paid Sam Hutchinson and Massimo Luongo were sidelined by calf and ankle injuries respectively, Wednesday's selection options will only increase over the coming weeks heading into the festive period.

Jacob Murphy, one of four changes made by Monk, showed flashes of his undoubted quality, coming agonisingly close either side of half-time to getting on the scoresheet. Club captain Tom Lees also delivered an assured performance in his first start since August.

In a breathless finish at S6, Monk's team underlined their spirit and character by coming from behind to take the lead after goals from Fernando Forestieri and Morgan Fox. Monk's three substitutes: Forestieri, Adam Reach and Jordan Rhodes all made positive contributions in the second half and helped rescue a point.

It was a hugely encouraging display and a point was the bare minimum Wednesday merited.

Yet, on the one hand, late goals are becoming a source of huge frustration for the Owls, who have dropped seven points from winning positions in their last five matches. Their game management was again not up to scratch as Ben Wilmot's close range volley deep into added on time deprived them of the win.

"We probably should be stood here with six points from the last two games but we have the one," said Monk.

For the second match running, Wednesday gifted the opposition goals, conceding twice from corners.

Monk said: "The effort and commitment is there and it's clear they're fighting hard for each other, but set-pieces in the last two games have cost us.

"The roles are very clear and you need to focus on what you need to do but unfortunately we haven't done that in those two critical moments in the last two games."

Although he produced two superb saves late on, Keiren Westwood did not cover himself in glory for either of Swansea's goals. He spilled the ball for the opener, allowing Andre Ayew to stab home from inside the six-yard box and then flapped at another dead ball situation for the heartbreaking equaliser. His erratic form is a cause for concern.

The fact is Wednesday were the better side, dominating for long periods, but their Achilles heel is a lack of clinicalness in front of goal. It is costing them points and Monk must look at bringing in a new forward in the January transfer window to rectify their goal-scoring problems.

But it is certainly not all doom. Yes, the is plenty of work for Monk to do over the two-week break, with the Owls having still not beaten a top half team after six attempts.

Yet they are on the right lines and will have a chance to make a big statement when they tackle leaders West Bromwich Albion in their next outing on November 23.