Without a doubt; Sheffield Wednesday’s clash on Saturday (April 30) against Cardiff City is the most important fixture of the season for both clubs. A win or draw will be sufficient enough to see the Owls confirm sixth spot in the highly anticipated Championship play-offs.
A crowd of over 30,000 spectators are expected to flood into Hillsborough for this appealing and energized fixture, accompanied with a carnival, but nervous, atmosphere and I for one cannot wait.
Four points currently separate both teams. Cardiff are currently sat seventh in the league, only a victory for the Welsh outfit will provide a glimmer of hope as the look to dramatically overtake Wednesday after all 46 games have been played.
In the final fixture of the season, the Bluebirds entertain Birmingham City at home, whilst the Owls travel to Molineux to take on Wolves. Everyone associated with Sheffield Wednesday are hopeful that the final fixture against Wolves is nothing more than a run in the park with nothing play for having done the business against Cardiff.
Wednesday are expected to field a very strong line-up on Saturday in a typical 4-4-2 formation. Sam Hutchinson may return to the starting eleven, which will add fire and energy to the central midfield. He will also support the defensive back two of Tom Lees and Glenn Loovens.
The consistent Alex Lopez would therefore be dropped to the bench to make way for Hutchinson’s authority and game changing ability. Fernando Forestieri and Gary Hooper will look to start up top having scored 26 league goals between them.
Ross Wallace is suspended due to a straight red card against MK Dons last week and serves another two-match ban. Aiden McGeady is a typical replacement for the winger having started the 1-1 draw against Derby last Saturday; Marco Matias is also a further option for boss Carlos Carvalhal.
The Owls have no new injury worries; Joe Wildsmith, Vincent Sasso, Jérémy Hélan, Lopez or Lewis McGugan, Matias, Atdhe Nuhiu and Lucas Joao are likely to make up a more than able experienced bench.
Probable line-up: Westwood, Hunt, Lees, Loovens, Pudil, McGeady, Lee, Hutchinson, Bannan, Forestieri, Hooper.
Russell Slade’s men typically play a 4-4-2 formation. With the Bluebirds needing six points from the remaining two games, Cardiff certainly need to score. Goalkeeper David Marshall will play a key role in this fixture; he has kept 14 clean sheets in total this season. A man of the match performance from the Scottish shot stopper may see the visitors take all three points. Matthew Connolly and Sean Morrison will provide cover for the goalkeeper as the defensive back two.
On the wing, Peter Whittingham will be Cardiff’s key attacking outlet looking to provide Anthony Pilkington with many goalscoring opportunities. Versatile Pilkington can play anywhere on the park and is Cardiff’s leading top goalscorer in the division with eight strikes.
Probable line-up: Marshall, Peltier, Connolly, Morrison, Malone, Noone, O’Keefe, Ralls, Whittingham, Zohore, Pilkington.
Sheffield Wednesday average over 14 shots per game when playing at home this season. Forestieri has contributed to 11 of the 39 goals in total that the Owls have scored at Hillsborough.
Cardiff City average 11.7 shots per game when playing away from home this season, Lex Immers is the Bluebirds’ top scorer on the road with four goals.
Sheff Wed: WWLDDD
Cardiff City: WDLDLW
Head to Head History:
Sheff Wed Wins: 24
Cardiff City Wins: 26
Cardiff City 2-2 Sheffield Wednesday – December 12, 2015
(Noone pen, 21. Pilkington, 34) (Forestieri, 61. Bannan, 76)
Sheff Wed – Forestieri: 15 Goals, 6 Assists
Cardiff City – Whittingham: 6 Goals, 7 Assists
SWFC Fans Predictions
This tense but exciting fixture is certainly a nail biter. Cardiff come to Hillsborough needing to score, however, Wednesday’s home form this season has been more than consistent, only losing twice in 22 fixtures.
Whoever takes the lead in this fixture may decide to park the bus. Playing at home in front of a packed blue and white crowd edges my prediction in Wednesday’s favour.
My prediction (@LouisShackshaft): Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Cardiff City
Jon Riley (@JonjoRiley): Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Cardiff City
The Might Owl (@alextracy95): Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 Cardiff City
Jamie King (@JK1867): Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 Cardiff City
Ash Finney (@AshFinney1): Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 Cardiff City
Dom Webster (@Dwebbo86): Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Cardiff City
Luke Mac (@lukemac93): Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Cardiff City
Ian Morton (@ianmorton3108): Sheffield Wednesday 4-1 Cardiff City
Peter Hanson (@PeterHanson89): Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Cardiff City
David Capel (@davidcapel): Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Cardiff City
Stacey Shillito (@staceyshillito): Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 Cardiff City
Davieboy (@davepmanley): Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Cardiff City
Michael Gothard (@Gothard_1986): Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Cardiff City
Andy Butler (@sheffowl1): Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Cardiff City
Ric Naylor (@Ricnaylor12): Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Cardiff City
Any of the above score lines will see Carvalhal’s men guarantee a place in the 2016 Championship play-offs. Should Wednesday finish sixth, a first-leg home fixture is pencilled in on Friday May 13 at 7:45 pm. Third place Brighton, Middlesbrough or Burnley will host the return leg, take your pick!