No end in sight for Owls run without a clean sheet
Sheffield Wednesday's 3-0 defeat at the hands of QPR on Tuesday evening saw them fall into the bottom half of the Championship table having failed to keep a clean sheet in the league for the 15th game in a row dating back to the end of last season.
Only Preston North End have conceded more goals than the Owls in the Championship and of the 72 teams in the football league, Macclesfield are the only other team yet to keep a clean sheet.
The tone was set in the first game of the season when newly promoted Wigan put 3 past a hapless Owls side that could easily have conceded more on that day while on Tuesday night at Loftus Road QPR hardly had to do anything special to register 3 goals and 3 points.
In the 12 league games in between Wednesday manager Jos Luhukay has tried numerous formations and different defensive line-up to no avail. We've seen 3-5-2, 3-4-3, 4-3-3, 4-5-1, 5-4-1, 5-3-2 and the likes of Lees, Thorniley, Pudil, Van Aken, Hector, Hutchinson, Fox, Palmer, Baker, Boyd and Penney have all been shuffled in and out of the back line to no avail.
Early in the season there was criticism that the back line wasn't getting enough protection from midfield and as that statistics showed Wednesday were allowing more efforts on goal than most teams that did hold some weight. However, in recent weeks the performances of Pelupessy in front of the defence has improved but the goals continue to leak in.
The lack of consistency in terms of shape and players can't be helping and it seems as though Luhukay is not confident on what his best team is. It's all very well having a team that is adaptable and comfortable playing a variety formations but defensively the Owls do not look at all comfortable whatever they take to the field with at the moment. There is a good argument for the best way forward right now to be to determine a defind shape with a preferred ast choice line-up and to go with that for a few games to try and find some confidence and consistency.
The only position that hasn't been chopped and changed is the goalkeeper. Luhukay was very clear in stating Cameron Dawson to be his number one choice at the start of the season which was a little surprising considering his lack of experience and the other options available. While it is true that the only way experience can be gained is by playing, to be chosen to be a part of an unsettled defensive unit at this stage is a gamble and Dawson might have been better off getting game time as 2nd choice and as a cup keeper for a season. Hopefully the youngster will develop into a reliable number 1 for the Owls for years to come but the increasing pressure on him as part of the under-performing back line is not going to go away until the team stop shipping soft goals.
Although Dawson has made plenty of saves and any glaring errors have been few and far between he lacks the presence or experience needed to be able to command and be authoritative with the jittery defence and his decision making on crosses has been questionable of late.
While Keiren Westwood wasn't at his best last season he is an established keeper at this level and has seemingly been frozen out. Rumours abound regarding a bust up or aspects of his contract being the reason behind this but Luhukay has insisted that the decision to make him 3rd choice is a football one - with the need for some leadership and experience at the back at this time it looks like an error of judgement.
Next up for the Owls is a trip to in-form Birmingham who are now above the Owls in the Championship despite winning in the first 8 matches of the campaign. Norwich travel to Hillsborough the following weekend - at least Jordan Rhodes will be prevented from netting against his parent club!