Sheffield Wednesday fell to another disappointing result against Luton Town as they lost 1-0 at Kenilworth Road and barely laid a glove on the home side throughout the game.
Wednesday’s form since the turn of the New Year has been horrific and a trip to Luton presented them with a chance to get a much-needed win to get their season back on track, against a side currently fighting for their lives to stay in the division.
However, after two pretty lifeless draws against Millwall and Barnsley, the Owls camp has become quite deflated following just one win in 2020 and a bunch of defeats that have cut them adrift of the play-off chasing pack.
They started the game in the worst possible manner, conceding a penalty in the first minute, but were handed a lifeline when the Hatters’ top scorer James Collins could only fire off the top of the crossbar. Signs were ominous in the early stages as Izzy Brown should have opened the scoring from six yards out with the goal gaping.
The home side got the goal they deserved when Harry Cornick and James Collins latched onto a defensive lapse to fire home the game’s only goal and leave the Owls empty-handed for the sixth time in the last nine games.
With Garry Monk’s side now nine points adrift of the play-off places, we take a look three things we learnt about Wednesday’s defeat…
Baffling formation selection
Against Barnsley, Monk went bold with his team selection, making five positive attacking changes to try to stop the rot of not winning games, but they could only draw with the Tykes after a goalkeeping howler.
He went even bolder with his team selection against Luton, option for a three at the back formation with Fernando Forestieri’s inclusion catching the eye, playing at a very unfamiliar left-wing-back.
Wednesday have not played in a formation like this all season and it was clear to see in how their shape went AWOL from the first minute that it wasn’t going to work and something needed to change.
The performances of late have called for changes to personnel and system but the changes need to make sense and playing in an alien setup with players out of position is not the way to recapture the form that saw them come within touching distance of the top two.
Individual mistakes proving costly
Another theme that carried over from the game at Oakwell was the individual mistakes costing them points, after Cameron Dawson’s howler to gift Barnsley a goal and a draw last time out.
The mistakes came from the first whistle for the Owls with Izzy Brown breaking into the penalty area after around 15 seconds before some clumsy defending from Tom Lees saw him clip his ankles and gift a penalty to the hosts, which they didn’t take advantage of.
The errors didn’t stop there as the next huge one led to a goal. Dominic Iorfa was playing through the middle of the defence and tried to play out from the back before he got caught dallying in possession by Cornick and Collins, with the former rounding Dawson in the box to then square it to the latter for a tap-in.
Poor form is one thing, but individual mistakes will cost you points regardless of that and they need to stop, and soon.
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Monk might have been right
It was revealed earlier in the week that Monk had believed from the outset that his squad was not equipped for a top-six push this season.
As quoted in the Sheffield Star, Monk stated: “I don’t think that was ever really the number one aim. Of course that’s the ambition and we all want to fight for it. We’re going to fight for it.
“But if I’m honest at the start of the season it wasn’t an ambition for anyone, realistically. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be fighting for that, we are.
“But you can see how much work needs to be done, I’ve said that from the start.”
This would indicate that Monk never thought this side was capable of consolidating their place in the top six. His comments stand to reason after a performance of that ilk, considering they were thoroughly outplayed by a team that were occupying 24th place heading into kick-off.
Chants of ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt’ could be heard from the away end and the discontent amongst the Wednesday faithful is justified when the side can’t put in a solid performance consistently.
There is enough quality in the squad to see them move up the table as they were there earlier in the campaign.