Sheffield Wednesday: The tweak that could secure Owls a League One playoff spot is staring them in the face

Selfishness is a trait more often than not used negatively in football.

Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 2:00 pm

But remarkable statistics suggest Sheffield Wednesday’s burgeoning promotion bid could be enhanced with a little more of it.

The Owls sit second in the League One form table with five wins in their last six matches, just a point from fourth in a congested race for the playoff places. Though they haven’t claimed a place in that top six since October, hopes are building that they’ll be there come May.

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Saido Berahino celebrates his second Sheffield Wednesday goal with in-form pair George Byers and Jordan Storey.

Of all the teams gunning for a place, Wednesday have one of the most favourable run-ins in that they have the fewest remaining fixtures against the top teams (only three matches left versus teams in the top 10).

And a key tweak to securing post-season involvement could well be in being more selfish in front of goal.

Stats compiled by Wyscout show only likely champions Rotherham United (19.03) take more touches in the opposition area per 90 minutes than Wednesday’s 18.77 and yet the Owls sit only ninth in the division for shots taken per match (11.2).

The data gets even more remarkable when you consider the individual stats.

When it comes to touches taken in the opposition box per 90, of the top five players across the entire third tier, four either play or have played for Wednesday this season.

Rotherham's Will Grigg takes top spot with 5.59 ahead of Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s 5.45, Theo Corbeanu’s 4.99, Florian Kamberi’s 4.92 and Lee Gregory’s 4.88. Saido Berahino ranks eighth in the division, sitting eighth with 4.62 touches in the box per match.

The numbers would suggest Wednesday are a little shot-shy in the key areas despite opportunity.

In terms of their attacking output, Darren Moore’s side recorded their season-best xG rating (3.13) in Saturday’s win at Doncaster Rovers, beating their previous best of 2.71 in the 1-1 draw at Cambridge United.

Their overall season xG of 48.5 ranks fifth in the division and they rank tenth for goals (45), a statistic they’ll have designs on improving as the season run-in continues.

With form and momentum behind them, it could be that just a touch of selfishness in the opposition penalty area gives them another boost towards playoff qualification.