A simple look through the Sheffield Wednesday squad can give you a little bit of a fright.
Barry Bannan remains one of the most cultured midfielders in the division, Fernando Forestieri is a little genius, Josh Onomah has won youth Championships with England and Adam Reach can score from seemingly anywhere. Steven Fletcher, Adthe Nuhui, Lucas Joao – they can hurt you in so many ways.
And yet, they remain a side that you look at on paper and think “three points”.
This will no doubt be a tougher game than the one contested on Tuesday night. Reading had plenty of players that were strong technically but they showed far too much respect to the Blues forwards and lacked the quality and positivity to hurt Blues.
Sheffield Wednesday are similar. They have conceded more shots away from home than any other team in the Championship. They have conceded more goals overall and away from home from open play in the division. To put it simply, Sheffield Wednesday are a very easy side to play through. And when you reach the final third, they have a very youthful and disorganised set of defenders to play up against.
But the difference is that Sheffield Wednesday have the quality to turn a game on its head. Quality from set-piece deliveries, players capable of producing a moment of brilliance at any moment. Switch off and Fletcher and Nuhui can find themselves on the end of a delivery from Reach or Bannan. Forestieri and Joao offer different strengths but both are capable.
It’s a good job that Blues’ biggest strength has been their organisation and discipline, two words I can’t help but use when discussing this side.
Those strengths will be key once again at the weekend, constant communication across the backline ensuring that good players don’t receive the ball in dangerous areas, be it denying quality crosses or making sure the ball never bounces in front of Adam Reach invitingly.
Jacques Maghoma’s injury means that Blues will be forced to make one change, Connor Mahoney the likely candidate to take a position out on the left-wing. The youngster will have to learn his defensive responsibilities on the job and match his fine technical ability with a more ruthless finish.
Saturday will again be a fixture between disorganised quality and organised efficiency. Blues are the latter and if we get it right, it will be lucky 13 unbeaten at home.
Jacques Maghoma’s ankle injury will pave the way for Connor Mahoney to make his second Birmingham City league start. Isaac Vassell and David Davis remain absentees, Craig Gardner could return.
Joss Luhukay is expected to make a few change following the midweek 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Queens Park Rangers. The Wednesday boss will make one enforced change with Daniel Pudil suffering a nasty facial injury, potentially offering captain Tom Lees a route back into the starting XI. The good news is that Fernando Forestieri will not be one of those brought into the team due a hamstring problem.
Birmingham City: 1th
Overall: Played 14; Won 4, Drawn 8, Lost 2; For 16, Against 13, GD 3; Points 20
Last six at home: Played 6; Won 2, Drawn 4, Lost 0; For 8, Against 5, GD +3; Points 10
Most starts: Colin, Morrison, Dean, Pedersen, Jota, Jutkiewicz – 14
Most goals: Lukas Jutkiewicz – 6
Worst discipline: Maikel Kieftenbeld – 3 yellow cards & 1 red card
Sheffield Wednesday: 14th
Overall: Played 14; Won 5, Drawn 4, Lost 5; For 20, Against 23, GD -3; Points 19
Last six away: Played 6; Won 3, Drawn 0, Lost 3; For 7, Against 10, GD -3; Points 9
Most starts: Cameron Dawson – 14
Most goals: Lucas Joao – 5
Worst discipline: Barry Bannan – 6 yellow cards
Last five played:
Blues 2-2 Ipswich Town
Brentford 1-1 Blues
Blues 3-1 Rotherham United
Stoke City 0-1 Blues
Blues 2-1 Reading
Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Leeds United
Sheffield Wednesday 2-2 West Bromwich Albion
Bristol City 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday
Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 Middlesbrough
Queens Park Rangers 3-0 Sheffield Wednesday
When we last met:
Sheffield Wednesday 1-3 Birmingham City
Steve Cotterill once had a run of four victories from six matches. Incredibly, all four wins were against four of the worst Championship displays you were likely to see that season, and that’s bearing in mind he was managing Birmingham City for a period.
Sheffield Wednesday were probably the worst. They handed Blues a 3-0 first half lead. Venancio decided to chest the ball away from his goalkeeper then let Davis beat him to the loose ball. Joe Wildsmith then let Jota’s grasscutter through his hands and after Marco Matias had been sent off for an off-the-ball-incident, Sheffield Wednesday’s centre-backs let David Davis win his header and fire a shot that was palmed into the path of Jota who had been left all alone in the area. Lucas Joao responded in the second period, Daniel Pudil was sent off and Blues somehow failed to add another against nine men.
Opposition Player to Watch: Adam Reach
Anybody that watches Championship highlights will be fully aware of who Adam Reach is by now. The ex-Middlesbrough youngster is proving to be one of the most capable strikers of a ball in the Championship with goals against Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and more recently, Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion. For entertainment factor alone, Reach is a player capable of producing a moment that is worth the entrance fee.
Birmingham City 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday
Blues’ next five fixtures:
03/11/2018: Derby County (A) – 15:00
10/11/2018: Hull City (H) – 15:00
25/11/2018: Aston Villa (A) – 12:00
28/11/2018: Millwall (A) – 19:45
01/12/2018: Preston North End (H) – 15:00