Yorkshire news Six Sheffield Wednesday talking points after battling Birmingham City win MetiNews.Com
MetiNews.Com - There is still a lot of work to do but the Owls reduced their points deficit to minus four following an outstanding team performance in their victory at St Andrew's
Breaking News ! It's still a bit chilly on the blue half the city. But Sheffield Wednesday reduced their points deficit to minus four with a professional, hard-working performance victory away to Birmingham City. Barry Bannan's 49th minute penalty ensured Owls manager Garry Monk celebrated a winning return to St Andrews's. Things got nervy at the end as Wednesday were pushed back and the Blues piled on the pressure. Yet Monk's spirited side dug deep to grind out a second Championship win of the campaign. Here are six talking points after a fine away day for the Owls. Garry Monk's team selection and tactics Monk admitted that he and his coaching staff thought long and hard during the international break about the best set up to tackle his former club. Plenty of eyebrows were raised over the starting line-up. Monk picked an attack-minded team, handing recalls to Moses Odubajo and Elias Kachunga in his favoured 3-5-2 formation. With four defenders sidelined by injury, Monk gave deadline-day loan signing Aden Flint his debut and called upon Massimo Luongo to fill in at centre-back. It was needs must. Yet the game plan Monk and his technical team plan devised worked to perfection. Their formation was 3-5-2 without the ball but it turned into a 4-4-2 system when they were attacking with Luongo dropping into midfield (more on him later). It completely bamboozled the hosts for 70 minutes. The front two of Josh Windass and Callum Paterson set the tone. They ran themselves into the ground, pressing and harrying Birmingham's shaky-looking back four into submission. Some of their football in the first period was very pleasing on the eye. The Owls could have been out of sight at half-time had they shown more of a cutting edge in front of goal. Neil Etheridge produced a fine save in the first half to keep Adam Reach at bay, Windass hit the woodwork with a free-kick, Paterson glanced wide after a peach of a cross from Moses Odubajo and Reach fired over the bar when well-placed. Read More Related Articles Every word Garry Monk said on the Birmingham City win, Aden Flint's debut and Jack Marriott Read More Related Articles Sheffield Wednesday press conference recap: Garry Monk reacts to superb Birmingham City victory You feared Wednesday's below-par finishing would again come back to bite them. But Bannan's spot kick was no more than the visitors deserved. Monk took a big risk with his patched up defence and subtle tweaks to the system but his gamble paid off. Lukas Jutkiewicz's absence Birmingham desperately missed their talismanic figure in attack. Jutkiewicz has enjoyed playing against the Owls down the years, causing them all sorts of problems with his power, strength and physicality. Wednesday have been one of Jutkiewicz's favourite opponents. So it was a big bonus for the Owls that Jutkiewicz was unavailable for selection. As good a player as Scott Hogan is, he is a different type of forward to Jutkiewicz. Luongo, Flint and Joost van Aken shackled him well and barely gave Hogan a sniff. Flint delivered a commanding display at the heart of their rearguard and van Aken was impeccable next to him and constantly brought the ball confidently out of defence. Odubajo seamlessly slotted in on the right flank, Kadeem Harris improved as the contest wore on down the left and Adam Reach was lively roaming around and interchanging positions in midfield with Bannan and Elias Kachunga. Massimo Luongo is an absolute gem A proper, proper player. It doesn't matter whether Luongo is deployed in defence, in a deep-lying midfield position, a box-to-box role or as an attacking midfielder: he just oozes quality and composure. Monk put his faith in Luongo to do a job as an emergency centre-back and the popular Aussie rose to the challenge and then some. He marked poor old Dan Crowley out of the game, prompting Birmingham to take him before the hour mark. Luongo, a classy, intelligent, adaptable player, is the heart and soul of this team. His performances have been outstanding in the last three matches. Injuries hampered Luongo last season but right now he is playing like a man possessed. A real unsung hero.
(Image: CameraSport - Mick Walker)
Barry Bannan's joy There is no love lost between Bannan and Birmingham City. The diminutive Scot progressed through the ranks at Aston Villa so he is `normally public enemy number one in the eyes of the Blues faithful and cops his fair share of flak. There were, of course, no fans at St Andrew's yesterday to watch Bannan rifle in the winner from 12 yards. Both of Bannan's goals in 2020 have come against Birmingham. The skipper could not contain his delight at the final whistle. He raised both his arms aloft in the air and was captured on camera doing a little jig on the pitch. It was a sweet moment for Bannan, who attracted the interest of Brentford in the most recent transfer window. He led the team by example.
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Joost van Aken's great block Nothing typified Wednesday's fight and commitment to the cause more than the Dutchman's brilliant block to foil Jonathan Leko in the closing stages. It was a heroic piece of defending and stopped a certain goal. Van Aken threw his body on the line to leave the Blues frustrated. "What you can't take away from the group is the fight and spirit that we have got," said Monk. "They are very much together and that will only grow with the transfer window that we have done. "I think we have been very smart with our transfer window. We are not in a situation where we have been able to spend vast amounts of money, which is not the point anyway.
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"We have had to work very smartly and I have been very pleased. The club and the chairman deserves a lot of credit for that and now it is a case of gelling us together and trying to get points early. I think we will only stronger as we gel the squad together." Lots and lots of work still to do Don't expect Monk to get carried away after this result. He knows the Owls are a long way away from the finished article. His team made hard work of it and their lack of ruthlessness in the final third almost cost them two points. More goals must be spread out across the team. Beating Birmingham is a great result but what they can ill afford to do now is throw away their good work by not picking up a healthy points return from their Hillsborough double-header with Brentford and Luton Town. A home win is long overdue. Monk and the recruitment team have worked hard to assemble a team of hungry, hard-working players. His side gave him everything yesterday. If they continue to perform at that level, there is every chance Wednesday could be out of negative numbers by the end of the week.
Source = MetiNews.Com