Talking Tactics | Sheffield Wednesday v Swansea City
It may have been tough, but Swansea did what was needed to secure a second successive win at Wigan's expense last weekend.
The Latics have enjoyed a fine home record this season, yet the Swans were able to inflict a second defeat upon Paul Cook's side at the DW Stadium to keep them in the chasing pack.
Now just two points off top spot, Steve Cooper will aim to head into the final international break of the calendar year on a high as he takes his side to face Sheffield Wednesday. Like Wigan, the Owls boast a solid home record this season having lost just the once on home turf this term.
Boasting one of the best home defensive records in the league - no team has conceded fewer goals than Sheffield Wednesday (three) in the Championship this season - Swansea need to dig deep in order to get the better of one of the division's better backlines and a side that hasn't conceded in their last three home league matches.
And while Sheffield Wednesday have kept a clean sheet in five of their seven home league games this season, Swansea have the means to break that resolve. The Swans are unbeaten in their last nine away league matches and only West Brom (17) have earned more away points than Cooper's side (15) in England's second tier this term.
Three of those 15 were earned by the experienced Wayne Routledge courtesy of his late winner in a 1-0 win at Leeds at the end of August. Indeed, while Routledge has only had a direct hand in two goals, also providing the assist for Ben Wilmot's winner in the South Wales derby, his goal and assist have earned Swansea an additional four points this season.
In a match that could prove tight at Hillsborough, Cooper will look to Routledge to provide that spark of inspiration, which could prove to be the difference between one point and three in Yorkshire. Swansea have lost only one of their last six meetings with Sheffield Wednesday, winning three, and having scored the decisive goal to secure all three points when these two teams met last December, Routledge will be aiming to maximise a statistically-calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'finishing' in order to ground the Owls.
Having ousted Moses Odubajo as starting right-back, it'll be down to Liam Palmer to keep Routledge at bay and ensure the 34-year-old winger is unable to add to his one goal and one assist this season. Having featured prominently at left-back, 28-year-old Palmer has recently moved over to right-back, but his WhoScored.com rating here is a lowly 6.41.
The Scot's sole WhoScored.com strength is 'tackling', so he has the defensive nous to ensure Routledge endures a quiet afternoon in Sheffield, with Palmer's average of 1.7 tackles per game ranking among the top performers of all Wednesday players.
That said, Routledge is experienced enough to get the better of Palmer today and having proved a crucial match winning on two occasions already this season, Cooper will be hoping it's third time the charm to land a third successive league win this afternoon.