Sheffield Wednesday: Owls set to fight fire with fire against Watford

Stuart Gray
Stuart Gray
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They may be about to face one of the Championship’s most fearsome attacking units but the Owls are determined to fight fire with fire.

Only top of the table Nottingham Forest have scored more goals than today’s visitors to Hillsborough, a Watford side renowned for the ferocity of their attacking play.

But rather than looking to nullify the Hornets, Stuart Gray is plotting for his Wednesday outfit to be the ones doing the pushing this afternoon.

“I want us to force them back,” Gray said.

“I want them to be doing the defending.

“We have to be at our best because we do know they can turn defence into attack very quickly with the pace they’ve got.

“But we do not fear anyone and we are determined to get on the front foot.”

Since Wednesday last met Watford on March 29, the Hornets have had four managers due to a bizarre sequence of events.

First Beppe Sannino resigned at the end of August with his side sitting second in the Championship. Then replacement Oscar Garcia was forced to quit after 27 days in charge due to health problems.

Coach Billy McKinlay took the reins but was then replaced after just eight days by current incumbent Slavisa Jokanovic.

Today’s game will be former Chelsea midfielder Jokanovic’s first game in charge but Gray expects he will stick to a similar winning formula to his predecessors.

He said: “I don’t think he’ll go far away from the starting XI that has worked so well for them in the first 11 games.

“They’ve got good players and they’ve got real pace in the side with Anya and Dyer on either side.

“We will need to make sure we come out on top of those two.”

After being disappointed with the manner of Wednesday’s first half performance at Leeds – their last game before the international break – Gray says plenty of focus in training this week has gone into using the ball better.

And he says the Owls will have to be particularly affective with possession if they are to best Watford.

He said: “Our ball retention should have been a lot better than what it was at Leeds.

“We’ve focused on the speed of the pass and the accuracy.

“Sometimes you might be having an off day but you can play your way back into it.

“Against Leeds one or two of the players were chasing the game rather than keeping it simple and that’s when mistakes happen.”

Gray is targeting today’s game as one where the Owls can begin to improve their home form which has delivered just one win so far this term.

He said: “We need to start getting our home form going.

“Performances have been reasonable but we need to turn those one points into three.”