Home is usually where the heart is for most football clubs, but there’s one particular stat which suggests that’s not the case for Sheffield Wednesday. The Owls have scored a miserable total of 17 goals at home this term – the lowest figure in the entire Championship. But, even more bizarrely, Garry Monk‘s men have scored the joint highest amount of goals on the road.
Wednesday do have a great chance to improve that home record when they host Preston North End this week. The Lilywhites have only picked up two points since the Championship returned.
Preview: Sheffield Wednesday v Preston North End
Sheffield Wednesday and Their Post-lockdown Form
It’s difficult to know what to make of Wednesday’s form since returning to action. They’ve picked up four points from a possible 12, which is by no means encouraging. However, all of those games have been against top-half teams, and they’ve played some good football in patches.
Wednesday were the better team in their 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest, before picking up an impressive 2-1 victory at Bristol City. They then returned to Hillsborough with a 3-0 defeat against a ruthless West Bromwich Albion. Despite the scoreline, Monk’s side were the better team in that game for long periods, particularly in the first half. But their inability to translate possession, territory and sustained pressure into clear cut opportunities cost them dearly.
The Baggies scored a penalty just before the interval, and Wednesday’s defensive structure collapsed in the second period. West Brom were unconvincing, but their clinical edge inflated the scoreline.
In their latest outing, a 2-1 defeat at Swansea City, the Yorkshire side felt a familiar sinking feeling. They had the better of the first half, and actually did manage to create two decent opportunities against a Swansea team who looked lost playing in a 3-5-2 system for the first time all season. However, Jacob Murphy and Alessio Da Cruz couldn’t convert. Swansea went up a gear after the break, and Wednesday fell apart. A late goal from Adthe Nuhiu couldn’t inspire an unlikely Owls fightback, but it did go down as their first goal from open play since football returned.
With a potential points deduction looming over the Owls’ head, every game between now and the end of the season is vital.
Preston North End are Struggling for Goals Themselves
You’ve probably now gathered that this game is unlikely to be a classic. Preston have scored the joint fewest goals in the Championship since football returned. Scott Sinclair netted their first post-lockdown goal in a 1-1 draw at Luton, before Daniel Johnson notched in a 3-1 defeat at home to Cardiff.
Since then, they lost 1-0 at home to Derby courtesy of a stunning Wayne Rooney free-kick, before playing out a 0-0 draw at Huddersfield. But defensively North End have been pretty solid. Against Huddersfield, they only conceded two shots, which totalled an expected goals (xG) tally of only 0.05.
However, Alex Neil‘s side finished that game with a low total xG total of 0.37, and they didn’t manage a shot on target all afternoon. Preston are also winless in seven games, a run that has seen them slip into 10th – six points off a playoff place. With just five matches remaining, the Lancashire club will be desperate to reignite their faltering promotion push.
Wednesday will probably be without Wigan Athletic loanee Josh Windass, who picked up a calf injury in training just before the restart. Centre-back Tom Lees could return from a slight hamstring problem. Young defender Osaze Urhoghide will be out for a few more weeks with a knee injury.
Preston will check in on the fitness of midfielders Ryan Ledson and Ben Pearson, who both struggled with cramp at Huddersfield.
It should be a game of limited chances, and one goal is likely to be enough to claim all three points. Wednesday striker Connor Wickham has returned in improved form since football resumed, and he may just be able to drag the Owls over the line to a vital three points.
Prediction: Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Preston North End