Two thirds of Wednesday’s 59 Championship goals have come in the second half of matches this season.
Since thrashing Brentford at Hillsborough on February 13, the Owls have only scored once in the opening 45 minutes (Away at Nottingham Forest).
It is quite staggering the difference between he Owls’ goals output in the first and second half of matches and I thought it is worth exploring some of the reasons why they have fared better after the re-start:
1) Substitutions - Wednesday have built a big squad and, more often than not, Carlos Carvalhal’s subs make an impact. His canny use of subs has made a big difference. They always appear hungry to come on and impress. Lucas Joao has stepped up of the bench and found the back of the net five times. Four other players, in the league, have also chipped in with goals.
The fresh legs stretch tiring defences. Away at Birmingham City and Huddersfield Town, Atdhe Nuhiu has unsettled their defences with his tenacious, hard-working displays. His sheer size and awkwardness to play against, allied to Alex Lopez’s driving runs and passing range, helped swing the Charlton Athletic home match their way. For the first time in years, Wednesday have strength in depth in all departments.
2) Fernando Forestieri - He is the heartbeat of the team. The Argentine-born Italian terrorises opponents with his nimble footwork and cool finishing. Half of his 14 strikes have come after the break and he claimed his seventh assist in Tuesday’s hard-earned win versus Blackburn. Forestieri has not been at his mesmerising best in their last two outings, but has still made two telling contributions. It is no coincidence that Wednesday’s results noticeably dipped when Forestieri was unavailable for selection due to his two red cards.
3) Fitness levels - The Owls gradually wear teams down with their high tempo pressing game. They keep going right to the end and Wednesday’s squad have become, as Carvalhal predicted, a stronger unit and improved the longer that they have worked together.
“Our physical performance all the time is fantastic and helps us a lot in the second halves when we are really very strong in most of the games,” said Carvalhal.