With the international break now over and done with, Blues return to Championship action on Saturday when they face Sheffield Wednesday at St. Andrews Trillion Trophy Stadium. The visit of the Owls also sees the return of former Blues manager Garry Monk, in his second visit as an opposing manager, since he was removed from his role in June 2019. His visit will certainly prove less acrimonious than his first return to Blues last season.

Blues go into this home fixture still unbeaten in the Championship this season, having won the opening day fixture against Brentford and drawn the following three games. There is still a lot of hope and positivity among Blues fans, especially with the performances of Ivan Sanchez and Ivan Sunjic, and the team looking far more defensively solid than they did during the last campaign. Blues currently sit 8th in the Championship table with six points from four games.

Wednesday, on the other hand, started the season well and truly on the back foot. They received a 12-point deduction for the 2020-2021 season from an independent disciplinary panel for breaching spending rules. This breach came about as they included the sale of their Hillsborough Stadium home in their 2017-18 accounts, despite the ground not being sold until a year later. This decision caused a huge controversy at the time, due to the punishment being applied this season rather than last. Had it been applied last season, The Owls would have been relegated to League One and Charlton would have survived. However, with the deduction applied this season, it has meant that Wednesday started this season rock bottom in the Championship on -12 points. It is, of course, not the first time Owls boss Monk has had to deal with a points deduction in a Championship season…

However, The Owls have had a steady start to their campaign, winning the opening fixture of the season, drawing two and losing only once in the league so far this season. They currently sit bottom on -7 points.

Last Time Out

The last time Blues welcomed Sheffield Wednesday to B9, Blues were amid their unbeaten run at the start of 2020. The game was fascinating, swinging one way and then the other. With the Owls 3-2 up in stoppage time and Blues fans making their way out of the stadium, a long ball hit by Marc Roberts found the head of Lukas Jutkiewicz. He flicked the ball into the path of Scott Hogan, and he side footed home to silence the traveling away fans and give Blues a share of the points.

YouTube: HIGHLIGHTS | Blues v Sheffield Wednesday

TEAM NEWS

Blues

After nearly a year out with an ACL injury, Jonathan Leko could feature in his first matchday squad for Blues, having recovered and rehabbed his injury. He featured in a squad game during the International break. Mikel San Jose and latest signing Riley McGree are both in contention to be in the squad for the first time. The only expected absentee is Josh McEachran (ACL), who is not likely to be fit for another couple of months yet.

Sheffield Wednesday

Wednesday will be buoyed by two signings they have made on deadline day – Jack Marriott and Aden Flint have both signed for the Owls. This has strengthened their squad further, alongside the seven other signings they have made in this window. Both could feature in the team for the visit to Blues. Dominic Iorfa (hamstring) and Liam Palmer (back) may also be available. Tom Lees (groin) and Liam Shaw (ankle) are both likely to miss out.

What the Gaffers said…

Aitor Karanka

“It’s the kind of game where you can’t look at the table because it’s not a true reflection (with The Owls’ points deduction). They are a team that should be at least where we are in the table and they are going to be difficult to beat. They have a coach (Garry Monk) who knows us well. But once again it’s about us and how we approach the game. I would like us to be strong at home because when you are strong at home it is easier to keep growing.”

Garry Monk

“I really enjoyed my work down there (at Blues). I went there when the club were in real danger of relegation. We progressed it forward. I am very proud of the work we have done there. I know Aitor. They are very organised. They are very determined and are a very strong team. St. Andrew’s is always a difficult place to go and they will be buoyed by their start to the season. It will be another typical, tough Championship game. It is about us and what we need to do. It is a busy schedule. We are trying to give ourselves the best preparation possible and trying to accumulate points. Every game is massive for us this season. We don’t have the luxury of feeling comfortable. We are not in a comfortable situation. We have adversity around us, and we are trying to put ourselves in a bubble.”

Current Form – Last 6 Games (in all competitions)

Blues – D D D W L L

Owls – D L L D W W

Head to Head… Blues wins: 38 Draws: 27 Sheffield Wednesday wins: 34

Last four meetings between Blues and The Owls… 

Championship 22 Feb 2020 Blues 3 Sheff Wed 3 

Championship 27 Nov 2019 Sheff Wed 1 Blues 1

Championship 01 Jan 2019 Sheff Wed 1 Blues 1 

Championship 27 Oct 2018 Blues 3 Sheff Wed 1

Officials

Referee – Peter Bankes

Assistant Referee – James Mainwaring

Assistant Referee – Timothy Wood

Fourth Official – Ross Joyce

Focus Prediction

The first game after the international break is tough for any side. Those in form hate having their run halted, whilst those on the other side of the coin are thankful for the break and the chance to gather their thoughts from the opening four games of the season. It is a chance to assess what is and what is not working. Sheffield Wednesday have also made some big deadline day additions which certainly improve their squad.

However, I think that the team will end up cancelling each other out and this game will end in a draw, so I will go 2-2.

What are your predictions for the game? Let Us Know!