Owls v Swans: The big talking points

16th February 2018
First team

Swansea City look to book a place in the last eight of the Emirates FA Cup this weekend when they take on Sheffield Wednesday.

Here are all the key talking points heading into Saturday’s fifth-round tie in South Yorkshire.


Carlos’ return

All eyes will be on the away dugout tomorrow as Carlos Carvalhal returns to the club he managed for two-and-a-half seasons.

Carvalhal has been in charge at a host of clubs, most of them in his native Portugal, but got his first taste of English football when he took over at Wednesday in 2015.

He almost did something special with the Owls, who have not been in the Premier League since relegation in 2000, as they twice reached the Championship play-offs.

But Carvalhal left the club by mutual consent in December, and just days later he was unveiled at the Liberty.

Now he goes back to his old stamping ground with the Swans, and it should make for interesting viewing.


Darren’s Day

The Swans will have to improve a fairly miserable record at Hillsborough if they are to triumph this weekend.

After all, they have managed just one victory on Wednesday’s patch in 14 previous visits stretching back to 1925.

That win came on their most recent trip to the blue corner of Sheffield, for a Championship fixture in 2009.

Darren Pratley scored both Swans goals in a 2-0 away victory, with Nathan Dyer claiming an assist.

The winger is the one man who played for the Swans in that game who could feature again this weekend.


How many changes?

Carvalhal has shuffled his pack for each of the Swans’ four cup ties to date, with seven alterations made for the most recent knockout fixture against Notts County last week.

The players who came in did rather well, as the Swans banked their biggest victory since 1982.

Carvalhal has suggested that he will continue to rotate, for the Premier League is his team’s obvious priority.

And that means the likes of Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Connor Roberts, Kyle Bartley, Luciano Narsingh, Wayne Routledge and Tammy Abraham will all hope for a starting chance.


Quarter-final chance

Carvalhal’s key task this season is to keep the Swans in the top flight.

But there is a chance to do something memorable in a competition in which the Swans have not had much joy down the years.

The best the club have managed in the FA Cup is two semi-final appearances, in 1926 and when Jimmy McLaughlin was one of the stars of the run in 1964.

Aside from those two campaigns, there has been only one trip to the quarter-finals, when the Swans were beaten by Reading in 1927.

Can Carvalhal’s class of 2018 claim a little bit of history by making it to the same stage this weekend?


Keep the run going

There may be no Premier League points on offer in Sheffield, but another positive result would do the Swans no harm as they look to continue their top-flight revival.

Carvalhal’s team are unbeaten in nine games in all competitions, a sparkling run from a team who had found no consistency this season before their new boss arrived at the end of December.

Regardless of cup progress, making it 10 without defeat would be good for confidence levels going into the league trip to Brighton a week tomorrow.


Owls on the up

Wednesday have lost only once in nine games in all competitions since Jos Luhukay, a Dutchman who has previously coached the likes of Augsburg, Hertha Berlin and Stuttgart, was named as Carvalhal’s successor in early January.

In the Championship, Luhukay had overseen four draws – three of which were goalless – and a home defeat to struggling Birmingham before claiming his first league success in England against Derby in midweek.

Cup victories over Carlisle – in a replay – and Reading, meantime, set up the Swans encounter.