Owls boss Jos Luhukay has come under heavy pressure from supporters following his side’s 4-0 defeat to Norwich City last weekend, and this derby clash with the Blades could have been make or break for him.
The visitors have been poor defensively over the course of the season, keeping just one clean sheet in 18 games in all competitions, and Luhukay’s team selection illustrated the importance of keeping it tight.
Sheffield Wednesday lined up with three central defenders, two wingbacks, and two sitting midfielders in Barry Bannan and Joey Pelupessey - meaning there were as many as eight defensive-minded players out there.
The Blades dominated the game, and would have taken the lead had it not been for Owls keeper Cameron Dawson denying David McGoldrick from the penalty spot with a wonder save.
The home side pushed and pushed for a goal, racking up 75% possession with Wednesday only managing one shot on target throughout – an 89th minute effort from the edge of the box from Marco Matias.
But it wasn’t just the team stats which highlights the Owls’ intentions to solely defend and play for a 0-0, but an incredible player stat which shows how wing-backs Ashley Baker and Morgan Fox posted less than a 40% pass-accuracy rate – a clear sign how they made little attempt to move up the field (Whoscored).
Most teams playing with a back three push their wing-backs forward to create crossing opportunities, but the Owls were happy to sit in and punt the ball long, rather than utilise their wide players. Fox and Morgan posted a combined 32 passes – less than a third of Blades centre-back Jack O’Connell (who racked up 105). Sheffield Wednesday fans will be pleased with the point their team won here, but concerns will remain about the prospects of moving up into the play-off places on this performance.