Sheffield Wednesday will be aiming to retain their place at the summit of the League One table as they travel to face Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium on Friday afternoon.
The home side are well and truly embroiled in a relegation battle at the bottom of League One and they currently find themselves in 20th position in the league, just three points above the drop zone.
In the three games since Liam Manning’s appointment as Oxford head coach, the U’s have only managed to gain two points. In his first game at the helm, Derby County recorded a 3-2 victory despite having less possession and shots on target than Oxford.
Oxford followed up this defeat with a 1-1 draw against Morecambe in what was seen as a six-pointer at the bottom of the table. A first-half goal from Marcus Browne was cancelled out in the 87th minute as Morecambe kept their survival hopes alive.
Last time out, Oxford recorded their most impressive result under Manning as they managed to keep promotion-chasing Peterborough to a goalless draw. The defensive partnership of Stuart Findlay and Elliott Moore was impressive throughout the game and they will be hoping to keep another clean sheet this weekend.
Despite a recent dip in form, Sheffield Wednesday still find themselves at the top of League One, having amassed 80 points from their 40 league games so far this season.
The Owls are currently level on points with Plymouth and two points ahead of Ipswich, but, crucially they have played one more game than both these sides so are relying on a slip-up from one of these sides in the run-in if they are to secure an automatic promotion place.
Darren Moore’s side are in the midst of their worst run of form of the season at the worst possible time. The Owls have gained just three points from their last five league outings. This run has included defeats against Forest Green and Barnsley.
Last time out, Wednesday were held to a draw as they hosted Lincoln at Hillsborough. An early goal from Michael Smith put the Owls in the driving seat, however, Lincoln were able to quickly find a reply thanks to Daniel Mandroiu. Neither side could find a breakthrough in the second period as the game finished 1-1.
Oxford United have dominated the recent history of this fixture and have only lost one of the last eight competitive meetings of these sides. Last season, Oxford were able to complete the double over Sheffield as they recorded 2-1 and 3-2 victories.
Sheffield Wednesday’s goalkeeper Cameron Dawson was the star man when these sides met in the reverse fixture earlier on in the campaign. Oxford were awarded a penalty in stoppage time but Josh Murphy saw it saved by Dawson and the game somehow ended goalless.
Unsurprisingly, given the respective league positions of these two sides, it is Sheffield Wednesday who are odds on favourites ahead of this clash and are currently priced @ 19/20, whilst a home win for Oxford is priced @ 13/5.
We are backing Sheffield Wednesday to win and Under 3.5 Goals in the match @ 13/8 because although they come into this game on the back of a bad run of form, we believe that Wednesday have the superior attacking quality of the two sides.