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Game of the Week: Sheffield Wednesday v Huddersfield

Thursday, January 12, 2017 10:09
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Before I go any further, in case you haven’t heard, former Aston Villa, Lincoln City, Watford, Wolves and England manager Graham Taylor died today.

News of Mr Taylor’s death emerged as I was finishing this post, which is an early one as Reading are entertaining QPR this evening (8:00pm kick off, Sky Sports 1) although if the last ten meetings between them in Berkshire are anything to go by, the visitors won’t win and there won’t be many goals.

Looking back at Christmas, the following points are worth passing on:

  • Newcastle were in pole position on Boxing Day, but after two defeats in their last three games, Brighton have take over the lead and now have a two point lead at the top. Right now, I can’t see any outside those two for automatic promotion.
  • Reading, Huddersfield and Leeds have all made big improvements since last season whereas Sheffield Wednesday have maintained last season’s level. With three of the four playoff teams coming from Yorkshire, the rest of the season could be intense – starting with this weekend’s game of the week.
  • Rotherham were five points adrift of Wigan on Boxing Day and I think both clubs will continue to struggle. It’s not abundantly clear who else looks likely for the drop though: Blackburn look most likely to drop out of the section at the moment, but both Bristol City and Nottingham Forest are struggling badly at the moment and could end up flirting with disaster.

In managerial news, no-one got the chop over Christmas although Paul Warne still hasn’t been confirmed as manager of Rotherham despite having had a favourable impact on and off the field since he took over from Kenny Jackett on a part time basis.

On to the game of the week:

Sheffield Wednesday v Huddersfield (3:00pm Saturday)

With the clubs being separated by four points and 30 miles, the twelfth Yorkshire derby of the season should be a cracker.

Having only won two of the five games they’ve played against the teams immediately above them, this isn’t exactly a gimmee for Wednesday. Although they’re currently on a four game unbeaten streak at Hillsborough and haven’t conceded a goal for 278 minutes, Huddersfield haven’t lost on the road since mid-November and have conceded just two goals in their last four aways.

Head to head: the clubs have met eight times in the league at Hillsborough since the turn of the century, but Wednesday have only won two of those games including the last meeting in November 2015. Despite the recent defensive prowess of both teams, there’s a chance that this one could feature some goals, but you’ll have to read to the end of the next paragraph to understand why.

Bonus fun facts: none of the previous Yorkshire derbies this season have ended in a draw and there’s only been one undecided match between the protagonists in the last eight games at Hillsborough – when Jordan Rhodes scored all four goals for Huddersfield in a 4-4 draw just over five years ago. Also, only one of the fifteen games between the current top six has ended in a draw: Reading v Brighton in August.

Honourable Mention:

Burton v Wigan

After a solid start at the Pirelli Stadium, the wheels have come off recently. Burton have lost their last three at home and their lack of a proven goalscorer at this level should be something Nigel Clough addresses during what’s left of the transfer window. Wigan have only lost two of their last ten away games in the division but their home form has been bad enough to keep them in the bottom six for almost the entire season. The only other league meeting between the clubs at Burton took place last April when both sides were pushing for promotion and finished all square.

Other televised games: there are only five points between Leeds and Derby (tomorrow, 7:45pm, Sky Sports 1) so that looks like a decent game to watch. Remarkably, Wolves have never played Aston Villa at Molineux in a second tier game (Saturday, 5:30pm, Sky Sports 1) but the occasion will be overshadowed by the death of Graham Taylor, who managed both of the clubs during his career and was in charge at Villa Park when Aston Villa last played at this level. RIP.


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