Coventry City 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday
Sheffield Wednesday played in a grey kit. It rained for pretty much the entire game and both teams struggled with possession. Coventry completed just 74% of attempted passes with Sheaf having the highest completion at 84%. Wednesday also had two strikers who had the highest pass completion percentage. The ball was not kept well centrally, or even played centrally too much.
Not too hot.
The heat map below shows Coventry's possession in the game. The ball with Dabo a lot. It was then either switched out to McCallum or dropped centrally for a long ball. The success came from getting the ball into the wide channels with O'Hare or Gyokeres.
Playing forward. Here you can see Wednesday doing what they did in the reverse fixture - frustrating Coventry with bodies behind the ball. Sheaf played a square ball out to Dabo, which allowed Wednesday to shift easily. They then pressed with a single striker and 3 behind. Though Dabo is a constant threat going forward, a poor pass means he is forced back to an isolated Ostigard who forces the ball out for a throw-in. Coventry are not really going anywhere.
Longer balls resulted in multiple turnovers, with very little control of the ball around the Wednesday box. Here you see an example of the ball dropping to Ostigard and going long, eventually running through to Westwood.
Issue. Sheaf drops into the backline to provide cover for Ostigard who is pushed wide under pressure. James is offering but Brannan is his shadow. There is no real switch opportunity and Dabo, ahead of the ball, has two defenders to deal with if he gets the ball. The back four proved a change that was difficult to deal with, as you'll see below:
Defensive Organization (being hard to beat).
Dabo had pushed forward as McCallum took a freekick on the near side. Wednesday counter from Westwood which resulted in a 2v2. Whilst the first ball was won, the second ball resulted in a through ball for Windass. Nothing came of this, but better teams will punish an unbalanced set up like this.
The line was also left exposed with unfamiliar demands being placed on players like Gyokeres. Here you see James and Hamer get tangled and lose the ball. Gyokeres had gone forward, but in the transition, it left Reach wide and open with space to attack.
This second image shows the outcome 13 seconds later. Wednesday have overloaded the rightwing giving Reach several options and ultimately enabling him to the ball in the box. Much like the opportunity above, stronger teams have been clinical on chances like these, and is how Wednesday won 1-0 last time out.
The pitch didn't help and the Wednesday shape (you see the 2-3-1 defensive shape) made it difficult to play centrally with them packing the pitch with five narrow. Sheaf and James both played backward and sideways a lot. Hamer was the only one who dropped deeper and attempted to play forward, as you see below, but even that was rare in the first half. The change on 62 of Shipley for Sheaf would always mean that Hamer would drop deeper and I think Coventry fare better with Hamer controlling the game from a little deeper.
There were several attempts to find O'Hare behind the lines or to give him the ball to break forward. There was the extravagant run forward and gentle 'shove' that sent him flying as a highlight, but the threat was there.
He finally got two assists to hopefully help silence those remaining critics. Tonight the chances were taken, but in previous games, they were not. He is an excellent player to connect the midfield and strikers. Though Coventry looked like they set up with two, you can see from the image in the build-up to the first goal and the defensive comments above, that Gyokeres played more on the left-wing. It meant Biamou had to play a 'hold-up' role, or stretch the game and create space for Coventry to get in between the lines. Neither really happened, but O'Hare plays consistently for his ability to do things like this. Pask provides a distraction, but the individual brilliance of O'Hare allows him to exploit the space, and feed Gyokeres to open his Sky Blue goal account.
Much like the first, the second came from O'Hare taking control of the ball and making it happen. Another long ball forward that Wednesday fail to deal with, leads to O'Hare receiving the ball and beating the press of two Wednesday players. The passing game looks good and goals can be beautiful, but the drive forward by O'Hare opens up the field and Allen peels away to beat the defender and finish first time:
Coventry substitutes don't often impact the game as hoped. Today was different. Pask had big shoes to fill in replacing Dabo and performed well. He didn't dribble, but won tackles and completed 70% of attempted passes. Bakayoko maintained the required running to press on Wednesday for the 8 minutes he got in this one. His change and timing were especially key as the game could have shifted to pushing Coventry back. The same is true of Jamie Allen, but of course, a goal helps that argument for him.
Last time out, Wednesday captain Barry Bannan was the most influential player for Wednesday and again in this game, he was the notable player. He played centrally, with a lot of the ball going through him, and several passes that were just off could have otherwise ended up very differently. It is disappointing to have seen his threat in the first game and afford him much of the same space and opportunity to impact the game.
Saturday against Birmingham. I expect a return to the back three with McFadzean returning. The back four worked, but it nearly didn't in this one. Better opponents have punished us, but we've also let opponents off by missing the chances we had tonight. A very good 3 points for Coventry in a scrappy and unexciting game that was doomed from the outset given the pouring rain and the Wednesday grey kit. My tv couldn't go bright enough to make it look nice.