This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Garry Monk will face just his second game in charge of Sheffield Wednesday later this afternoon as they welcome Fulham to Hillsborough.
It will be the 40-year-old’s first introduction to the home faithful as his side looks to continue on from last weekend’s 2-0 victory over local rivals Huddersfield.
This fixture presents a different test considering Fulham are potential title challengers and the Terriers languish in the bottom three.
Scott Parker’s men opened the season with three victories in four matches but have slumped since then by not picking up another three points in four games, though they deserved more from their 1-1 draw with West Brom last weekend.
The Baggies salvaged a point with a late equaliser despite there appearing to be a foul on goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli.
If Wednesday want to get a result today, they’ll have to conquer one man in front of the shot-stopper, Alfie Mawson.
Steven Fletcher is expected to lead the line for the Owls having scored four goals already this season.
The battle between him and the Fulham centre-back presents an interesting duel, one that is very much brawn versus technique.
The Cottagers play a slick passing style of football – they rank first in the league for possession percentage at 63.7%.
Therefore, their central defenders are imperative to their system paying off as they’ll start most attacks by playing the ball out from the back – Mawson averages a massive 95.1 passes per game which is only bettered by his teammate Tim Ream in the entire league.
On the other hand, they rank inside the bottom four in the Championship for aerial duels won which only emphasises the fact they like to play it on the deck.
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Mawson edges the 6 foot 1 striker in height by an inch, but it is the Owls forward that has considerably won more duels in the air, averaging 6.6 per game.
His combative nature, therefore, could be key in halting the way Fulham go about their business.
Wednesday’s ability to play the ball to him also earns the side some sort of set-piece through being fouled 1.4 times per game, where he will only continue to be a threat.
The 25-year-old doesn’t attempt too many tackles at 0.6 per game which either means Fletcher will go unscathed throughout the match or that he will garner plenty of time on the ball.
Whoever comes out on top in this key battle is likely to help their team to their respective results.