Sheffield Wednesday boss Garry Monk must find way to combat Cardiff’s physicality

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more… 

As the international break draws to a close, minds will be back on the domestic game with the top two tiers of English football returning to action this weekend.

Sheffield Wednesday have been given the honour of kickstarting that with a Friday night trip to the Welsh capital to face Cardiff City.

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Since Garry Monk took charge of the Owls, they have managed to garner ten points from a possible 15, which is good going considering they lost three of their last four before his appointment.

It means they currently sit just one point outside of a playoff position with their opponents only three points behind them in 11th.

The Bluebirds will offer up a tough test to which Monk has to prepare for correctly.

On the Chalkboard

Neil Warnock’s side are one of the more physical teams in the division as they win an average of 30.5 aerial duels per game (third-best in the Championship) while also conceding an average of 13.5 fouls per match (tied-fifth), via WhoScored.

Cardiff’s centre-back pairing epitomises that as Sean Morrison, at 6 foot 4, and Aden Flint, at 6 foot 5, both combine for 5.3 or more aerial duels each per game.

Meanwhile defensive midfield terriers Joe Ralls and Marlon Pack concede the bulk of the fouls at two apiece per match.

This leaves Monk with the difficult decision on how to set out his team going into Friday.

Massimo Luongo repaid the faith shown in him by the 40-year-old by scoring the winner against Wigan Athletic last time out as he deputised in Sam Hutchinson’s absence.

But the former Chelsea man is back from suspension and would offer more strength than the 5 foot 9 tricky Australian, with Hutchinson averaging 2.1 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per game.

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Iorfa

Iorfa

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Palmer

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Odubajo

He also faces the dilemma of whether or not to keep top goalscorer Steven Fletcher in attack on his own or revert back to the 4-4-2 system which paid dividends against Middlesbrough after their 4-1 victory.

It could well be the latter with Atdhe Nuhiu’s 6 foot 6 frame likely to be a valuable nuisance to Cardiff’s towering backline.

The pair both average over five aerial duels won per game with Fletcher at a higher 6.5 figure.