Steven Schumacher

Schumacher's Sheffield Wednesday Preview

Sync Fixtures

At around 2.01pm on Saturday, there would have been a fair number of the Green Army looking at the team Steven Schumacher had picked to play against Wycombe Wanderers and viewing with an air of surprise.

Three hours later, any queries had been quelled, as Schumacher’s side did the job they were asked to do, and won 1-0 against The Chairboys, the first Argyle victory against Wycombe since 2015.

The team line-up had included midfielder Matt Butcher and centre-back Nigel Lonwijk playing as wing-backs, with Joe Edwards and Bali Mumba, up until that point both ever-present in Sky Bet League One, left on the bench, where they would stay for the duration. 

The win entirely vindicated Schumacher’s decisions – if, indeed, such a vindication was even required. Such is the faith among the faithful of the manager’s decisions, currently, the mood prior to the game was more about curiosity than scorn.

Rightly so; Schumacher has guided Argyle to the top of the division, 11 games into the season, having played six of the seven teams that share the top eight positions with Argyle.

The missing side in that equation are Sheffield Wednesday, and they are the next visitors to Plymouth, this Tuesday night, in yet another game that cannot help but get the excitement going. Home Park is likely to be nearly full, and anticipation about as high as it has been in some time.

How things will turn out is anyone’s guess. Last season, the teams met four times; twice in the league, twice in the Emirates FA Cup. Argyle won two of the fixtures 3-0, one game ended level, and Wednesday won the league encounter at Hillsborough 4-2.

The Owls are third in the League One table, with 23 points from their 11 games, two places lower and two points than Argyle. The Pilgrims have won all of their five home games thus far, keeping four clean sheets. Wednesday have won four of their five away games, keeping four clean sheets.

The result is one of many factors that is far from predictable in the build-up to this one. Schumacher is fine with that, especially as regards team selection.

“Not being predictable is a good thing,” he told Argyle TV. “It makes it harder for opposition managers to plan against you. There are some really good managers and coaches in this division.

“I felt a little bit that last year, especially towards the end, when we played against the big teams, they just matched us up and said: ‘go on, we’ll see how good your players are against us’. We were a little bit predictable, and easy to play against.

“This year, it might be harder to plan playing against us, to figure out what formation we are going to play, what personnel will start, because we’ve got a few different types, a few different styles we can now use.

“It’s given us a chance to pick some good points up against some really strong teams in the league. We’re going to need to do that all season.”

As well as their four encounters last season, Argyle and Wednesday have already prepared to face each other again this term. They were set to meet on 10 September, but that weekend’s fixtures were postponed because of the death of Her Majesty, The Queen.

Since then, Argyle have gained 13 points from a possible 15, Wednesday 10 from a possible 12.

“We were really looking forward to this game last time we were about to play them,” said Schumacher. “We’d just played Derby and we were going in to Sheffield Wednesday, we were excited, prepared – and then the game got called off, and we had to wait.

“We’ve managed to stick in there and get ourselves to the top of the division. They are still chasing, and are only a couple of points behind us, so it’s going to be a great game. They are a strong team, have loads of strengths and a nice balance about their team. If we sell out, which would be fantastic, it should be a good night.

“I feel like I watch Sheffield Wednesday all of the time! We know a lot about each other. We played each other four times last season, and they were all good games, all tight. This year will be no different; two strong teams, going at it and playing football in the right way.

“I’m sure the fans will enjoy the game. Hopefully we can enjoy it and get another big result.

“I’m getting loads of messages, wishes of support. There is excitement in the city, everyone is enjoying coming to watch us play at the moment.

“That’s all down to the players, credit to them for performing, putting in the work-rate and the effort every week, which the fans obviously appreciate, and want to keep coming back to watch them play.

“We want to continue that for as long as possible, stick in there with the big guns in the league and see where it takes us. It’s an exciting time.”

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