The two changes Darren Moore should consider to ensure Sheffield Wednesday turn the tables on Sunderland

The atmosphere at the Stadium of Light on Friday night was all you’d expect it to be; loud, proud and partisan. But now it’s the turn of Sheffield Wednesday.
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Sunderland started on the front foot and barely let up. With a touch under 45,000 Mackems roaring their side on in a stadium designed for nights such as that, Wednesday were second-best, they failed to build counter attacks or keep possession as they might have liked.

But crucially, they were strong, they were robust and while they rode their luck once or twice they limited Alex Neil’s side to few genuine, clear-cut chances.

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Stepping onto the team bus on Friday night, you could imagine a sense of relief among the Owls players. For Sunderland, a very possible sense of dread and that, perhaps, they had not quite done enough.

Make the most of the atmosphere

Come kick-off, S6 will be bouncing on Monday night. It will be loud, proud and partisan. And, like the Black Cats did, Wednesday must start on the front foot or risk the threat of nervous tension seeping into the ground.

How to do that? Well, home form has not been an season and there should be no doubting the approach of a manager and team who has the best home record in the Football League.

In the last couple of months Wednesday have scored five against Burton, six against Cambridge and four against Cheltenham and Portsmouth. It would be fair to describe a home record of 11 wins in 13 home matches utterly rampant. And Sunderland will know that.

Sheffield Wednesday wing-back Jack Hunt has been in fine form this season.Sheffield Wednesday wing-back Jack Hunt has been in fine form this season.
Sheffield Wednesday wing-back Jack Hunt has been in fine form this season.
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Start on the front foot and a bouncing atmosphere can provide a huge boost.

Owls on the Hunt?

Moore’s approach in selection? There will be tweaks rather than mass-change, you’d think, though the Owls boss has proven he’s not shy of a surprise or two.

One selection that raised an eyebrow or two on Friday evening was the inclusion of Liam Palmer ahead of Jack Hunt who has been in excellent form, particularly going forward, for much of the season.

Did Wednesday lack his attacking thrust on the right? Palmer was afforded space on occasions and got himself forward and while he was dealt a dodgy hand in that it was rare there were too many blue and white bodies in the box to aim at, his final ball was off.

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Moore explained after the match that Palmer’s physicality at set pieces was the catalyst for Hunt’s drop to the bench. But with Wednesday hoping to start on the front foot and take the game to Sunderland, his inclusion can offer the Owls a fresh and more penetrative dynamic.

A switch up top?

Saido Berahino has had highs and lows in a Wednesday shirt and Friday evening’s match was the latter. Try as he might, he couldn’t quite get in the game and was too easily isolated by the Mackems defence.

He was replaced by Josh Windass before the hour was up and that’s a change Moore will no doubt be mulling over; have his three back-to-back substitute appearances been enough for the Owls boss to entrust him with a start?

Windass’ movement and pace gave Sunderland something fresh to worry about and may have been a factor in them dropping deeper late on.

We’ll see.