SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: In-form Owls seek to tame ‘wounded’ Eagles

Sheffield Wednesday v Birmingham....Owls Manager Dave Jones
Sheffield Wednesday v Birmingham....Owls Manager Dave Jones
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Dave Jones expects Crystal Palace to be far from tame opposition at Selhurst Park today.

The Eagles are bottom of the Championship and have lost their first three league games.

But the Owls boss says: “When is an animal at its most dangerous? When it is wounded. That’s when you have to be careful. We have to keep doing what we’ve been doing - we don’t want to let ourselves or the fans down.

“We’ll be prepared, ready, well educated about what they do, like we have been with everybody else.

“Once our players cross that line, we expect them to deliver the goods.“

Jones also has some uncomfortable memories of Selhurst Park: “We’re going to a stadium where it’s been difficult, in my time in the Championship and even in my time in the Premier League.

“I’m sure their staff will want to get it right.

Jones is well aware of the potential threat posed by England Under 21 winger Wilfried Zaha, and knows all about centre half Darcy Blake.

The 23-year-old was one of several young players to come off the production line when Jones was manager of Cardiff, who sold him to Palace for £350,000 this summer.

“Palace have good players all around the place,” says Jones. “I always maintain that if you worry about one player, somebody else will pop up somewhere along the line.

“We still prepare what we are going to do. It was nice the other night [the Cup win against Fulham] when our tactics worked. We’ll be trying the do the same again.

“Darcy is a very good player, a full Wales international, a valley boy who came through the ranks.

“I think moving is the best thing that could have happened to him. Sometimes you need to get out of the valley mentality and the Welsh mentality and know there’s life over the bridge.

“He was one of the good players who came through our system; there was Joe Ledley, Aaron Ramsey, Darcy and one or two others.”

Wednesday are second in the table and unbeaten, Palace bottom with no points, but the managers have something in common: Jones and Dougie Freedman are trying instil greater defensive tightness into their teams.

At least the Owls have been scoring more than the opposition, which is the most important thing in Jones’s eye, though he knows they are not going to win ever league game 3-2.

But goals against have been costing Palace dear. Although they began the season with a 2-1 Cup win at Exeter. they lost 3-2 at home to Watford, 4-1 at Bristol City, 2-1 last Saturday at Middlesbrough, and 4-1 at Preston in the Cup in midweek.

Peterborough are the only other Championship team with no points so far. Freedman said: “if we don’t stop crosses and defend the crosses that do come in, we give ourselves no chance.”

But he has been encouraged by the impact of new signings Blake, Yannick Bolasie and Andre Moritz. He said: “Wednesday have added to their squad but now, having added a few players, we have done the same, so we are evenly matched.”