Championship: Sheffield Wednesday- Birmingham City
Seven days ago I looked at the Championship overall, discussing the teams I felt had overachieved and those that had impressed me and who I felt were better than their current league position suggested. Sheffield Wednesday were one of the two best teams I have seen this season and my notes included .............
Leeds are quoted at 1.25 to finish top 6 and that is skinny for my money with at least three "better" teams below them, they have still to visit Huddersfield, Fulham, Reading, Brentford and Newcastle and with them quoted at 3.25 for promotion and Wednesday a juicy 5.50 -6.0 I know which way I would lean. The Owls signed prolific striker Jordan Rhodes (pictured playing for the mighty, mighty Brentford ) as deadline day expired and had already snapped up Sam Winnall from Barnsley earlier in the window. Rhodes cost an arm and a leg , but is proven and then some at this level, with 162 goals from 269 starts and a handful of sub appearances for Middlesbrough, Blackburn and Huddersfield, most of those coming in the Championship . Winnall scored 21 in 43 for Barnsley in their League 1 promotion campaign last season and has kept up that average in the Championship with 11 in 22 and that in a Tykes side punching well above their weight. Wednesday made the playoffs last season, losing in the final to Hull City and that experience should serve them well and I would not be surprised to see them finish third and they offer good value for promotion at current odds (5.50-6.0).
I did speak ahead of their trip to Wigan last Friday night about them having some defensive issues currently, due to injury and suspension, but which were close to resolving themselves and despite which they won and kept a clean sheet to move back up into the play off spots .
My notes that day also looked at the situation at the Blues ..........
Birmingham City are heading to where they deserve for sacking Gary Rowett just before Christmas, when the decision was made I wrote ........I cannot stop myself from saying this, City have sacked Gary Rowett and replaced him with Gianfranco Zola this week, are they absolutely crazy ! Rowett did an amazing job at Birmingham under incredibly difficult circumstances and overachieved massively, everyone in football ( apart from those connected with City) knows this and it is a very stupid decision. They are subsequently 0-4-6 under Zola , some decisions just defy logic and there is no point trying to understand them !
City won themselves on Saturday for the first time under Zola, beating Fulham 1-0 at St Andrews, I doubt they would have taken all three points had the visitors not been reduced to ten men with 25 minutes remaining, which was a game changer, but it will provide a much needed boost for City and their (already) under fire head coach.
However, I want to stay with the Owls and take them to record a 10th home win of the season, secure a place in the top six and to close in on the teams above them in the table. They get defensive midfielder Sam Hutchinson back from suspension and Jordan Rhodes will make his home debut and will strip much fitter after his run out last week, having played so little previously this season, he has five goals and two assists in the last four seasons against City and can lead his team to three points . Home boss
Carlos Carvalhal described the win last week as the "beginning of the rest of the season" and added that "now we have more options, are more dynamic, more ready." Rhodes will be salivating looking at the visiting team sheet with injury likely to leave City with a central defensive partnership of 38 yo Paul Robinson, alongside left back Jonathan Grounds moving across from his favoured position.
1 unit Sheffield Wednesday -0.75 ball 2.16 asian line/Sportmarket.