Dom Howson's Sheffield Wednesday column: Five reasons why the Owls will beat Huddersfield Town in the play-off semi-finals

It's nearly show time.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 12th May 2017, 5:03 am
Jordan Rhodes, left, and Daniel Pudil
Jordan Rhodes, left, and Daniel Pudil

All the talking will stop at ‘high noon’ on Sunday.

Fourth v fifth. West Yorkshire v South Yorkshire. Local bragging rights and a trip to Wembley to take part in the richest match in football are on the line.

Who will hold their nerve over two legs in the end-of-season lottery?

I think Wednesday will be too strong for Huddersfield, who have done extraordinarily well to clinch a play-off place.

Here are five reasons why the Owls will qualify for the Championship Play-Off Final for the second year in succession:

1) Wednesday have the greater firepower

It is a blow if Gary Hooper is ruled out of both legs. He has been in a rich vein of form and is a top-drawer operator at this level.

But the Owls are not short of quality up front. Steven Fletcher, Fernando Forestieri and Sam Winnall have all cracked double figure goals this season. And they have Jordan Rhodes and Atdhe Nuhiu.

In stark contrast, Huddersfield won 22 of their 25 league matches by a single-goal margin. For all their attractive, full throttle football, the Terriers don’t blow opponents away.

2) Experience is on the Owls’ side

You can’t buy experience. Wednesday have umpteen promotion winners in their ranks, including Daniel Pudil, Ross Wallace and Fernando Forestieri.

Nearly 12 months ago, Wednesday were 90 minutes away from winning promotion to the Premier League. The team didn’t perform on the big stage, but the Owls players will have learned from the occasion.

3) Owls have game-changing bench options

If the tie is not going Wednesday’s way at any stage, Carvalhal can freshen things up.

Callum McManaman, Rhodes, Forestieri and Nuhiu have all made impacts off the bench at different points this season. Their strength in depth could be a decisive factor.

4) Huddersfield are defensively suspect

The Terriers have played some scintillating football this season. Offensively they have plenty of dangerous forward players in Elias Kachunga, Izzy Brown, Rajiv van La Parra and Nahki Wells.

However, Huddersfield are fragile defensively and the first team in 26 years to qualify for the play-offs in the second-tier of English football with a negative goal difference.

Under David Wagner, the Terriers never shut up shop and always give opponents chances to score. Wednesday will look to exploit any weaknesses.

5) The match-up suits Wednesday

Huddersfield like to come out and attack teams and the Owls will enjoy sitting back and playing on the counter attack, particularly in the away leg. Wednesday will be happy to let the Terriers dominate possession and aim to punish their unforced errors.