Sheffield Wednesday’s Steven Fletcher and Barry Bannan can aid result v Fulham

Championship Picks

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’s second game in charge of Sheffield Wednesday is a much tougher test this weekend, and that’s giving no disrespect to Huddersfield Town, who are tied-bottom having picked up just one point this season.

Fulham came out of the blocks early doors looking like they would be serious promotion contenders under former player Scott Parker winning three of their opening four games, but have since faltered to 11th in the table.

Wednesday host them at Hillsborough on Saturday, looking to continue Monk’s excellent start as Owls boss.

Just one point separates the two teams in the league, so how will the home side get the advantage in what should be a tightly contested affair?

On the Chalkboard

The one major weakness of the Cottagers is their ability in the air – they rank inside the bottom four in the Championship for aerial duels won per game at 17.1.

There is an argument that their style of football just simply isn’t about that considering they rank first for possession percentage in the league at 63.7%, so it’s clear Parker likes to play it on the deck – but when they face a physical side, they’ll still have to win their headers.

Wednesday, by comparison, are about mid-table in terms of winning these duels themselves though they have one man that can make it very difficult for the south-west London side.

Steven Fletcher has won 46 aerial duels this season at an average of 6.6 per game – that’s more than Fulham’s centre-back pairing combined as Alfie Mawson averages 4.4 and Tim Ream at 1.7 per match.

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There’s quite clearly a mismatch there.

Monk will also need someone to supply the 32-year-old, and that is likely to be fellow Scotsman Barry Bannan.

The playmaking midfielder has made 16 key passes this season at an average of 2.7 per game and he comes into this weekend having recorded his second assist in five matches.

Bannan is also averaging 4.2 long balls per game and has recorded at least one cross in five of his six appearances.

Therefore, if Bannan can use his vision to pick out the aerial presence of Fletcher, they could well come out with the victory.

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