Championship expert Jack Critchley believes that Swansea can pick up their fourth consecutive victory when they take on Huddersfield on Saturday afternoon...
"The Welshmen have lost just three times since that defeat, and since mid-December they've managed to pick up 23 points from a posssible 27. The signing of Connor Hourihane has proved to be a masterstroke, and the on-loan Aston Villa star has spoken candidly this week about how the entire squad is all pulling in the same direction"
Terriers miserable run to continue
Huddersfield's poor form continued in midweek as they were defeated 2-1 at the Riverside Stadium. The club's inability to hold onto a lead has become a major issue, and they simply must improve defensively, especially when they have something to protect. They've dropped more than 20 points from winning positions this season, and have squandered the lead in each of their last two outings.
Although he was understandably disappointed by the outcome of the contest, Carlos Corberan felt that his side created plenty of opportunites, yet they were unable to convert the majority of them. The Terriers have found the net in each of their last five games, and are averaging 1.33 goals per game at the John Smith's Stadium this year. However, defensively, they've looked poor, and the partnership of Naby Sarr and Richard Keogh doesn't appear to be robust enough.
There have been some positives in recent weeks, Aaron Rowe looked lively during his short stint on the field in midweek, whereas winger Isaac Mbenza has been a revelation in 2021. The Belgian hobbled off in midweek and fans will be desperately hoping that he is fit enough to feature on Saturday afternoon.
Huddersfield have won just twice against top seven opposition this season yet somehow managed to turn things around against the Swans in South Wales. However, Steve Cooper's men have greatly improved since mid-October and are unlikely to take their foot off the gas at any point during the 90 minutes.
The Welshmen have lost just three times since that defeat, and since mid-December they've managed to pick up 23 points from a posssible 27. The signing of Connor Hourihane has proved to be a masterstroke, and the on-loan Aston Villa star has spoken candidly this week about how the entire squad is all pulling in the same direction.
It's the club's third consecutive trip to Yorkshire, and they will be hoping to make it a clean sweep, having recently beaten Rotherham and Barnsley on their travels. Earlier in the campaign, Cooper's men struggled to exert their dominance in the final third, although having netted 11 times in their last six games, those problems appear to have been rectified.
Defensively, they've been superb in recent months, and have conceded an average of just 0.33 goals across their last nine matches. The injury to Kyle Naughton in midweek is a blow, however, it isn't the first time that they've had to deal with defensive absences this season.
The Terriers stunned their hosts back in mid-October, however, it's hard to see the same thing happening this time around. Huddersfield aren't defending well enough, and Swansea should be able to take advantage of their leaky back-line. The visitors can be backed at 2.265/4 on the Exchange and should be able to clock up their fourth consecutive Championship success.
Owls to continue superb form at Hillsborough
As far as caretaker managers stints go, Neil Thompson's tenure at Sheffield Wednesday has been a hugely successful one. The former defender has overseen five victories since replacing Tony Pulis at Hillsborough, and although their midweek defeat to Stoke was desperately disappointing, they will be fancied to bounce back this weekend.
The Owls have the best home form across the last five matches and have conceded just a single goal here during that spell. They've beaten Preston, Coventry, Wycombe and Derby at this venue, and have kept all four teams off the score-sheet. Middlesbrough are the only side to have found a way past this Wednesday defence since mid-December and Birmingham may also struggle to break through.
Tom Lees has been widely praised for his performance in midweek, and although the defender's efforts were in vain, Thompson has clearly reignited some fight and passion into the squad. He's also reintroduced Jordan Rhodes and the promising Osaze Urhoghide is clearly benfitting from getting some vital minutes under his belt. The sale of Liam Shaw to Celtic is far from ideal, however, the young midfielder will remain in South Yorkshire until the end of the season.
Despite their lowly position, the Owls' home form has been rock solid this season, and only Barnsley and Brentford have netted more than a single goal at this ground. That is unlikely to fill Birmingham fans with much confidence as the Blues have failed to fire in three of their last four outings.
Despite Scott Hogan's best efforts, Brum have looked rather toothless in the final third, and Aitor Karanka's position has come under scrutiny in recent weeks. Since 9th December, they've picked up just a single victory, and have kept just three clean sheets.
Supporters are understandably frustrated at their side's lack of cohesion as well as Karanka's post-match excuses. The Spaniard has started to blame his players for their mistakes in recent weeks, and is struggling to come up with valid reasons for his team's frequently underwhelming displays.
They have been better away from home this season, although they've lost each of their last two games on the road, and rarely troubled Millwall in midweek. Karanka's overly defensive approach to games has been a source of frustration for fans, however, despite pairing up Hogan and Lukas Jutkiewicz at the Den, the pair failed to recapture last season's scintillating form.
Although the visitors will make themselves tough to break down, they've not shown enough in the final third and could struggle here. Sheffield Wednesday are 2.568/5 and look good value this weekend.
Cagey 90 minutes expected in the Potteries
Stoke City games have been decided by extremely fine margins this season, and Michael O'Neill's side finally came out on the right side of yet another cagey contest in midweek. It was the Potters' first victory in two months, and reignited their faint hopes of reaching the play-offs.
The hosts are struggling to convert their chances, and rarely score more than a single goal in a game. January's topsy-turvy draw with Rotherham was the first time since late November that they've managed to achieve this feat, although they've netted just four times in their subsequent five outings.
O'Neill's Northern Ireland side weren't renowned for being involved in high-scoring contests, and often relied on set-pieces to unlock the opposition defence. Stoke appear to be following suit, and as a result, many of their games tend to end all-square. They've drawn six of their last ten outings, and this weekend's clash with Luton could easily follow suit.
Although it's easy to blame Tyrese Campbell's injury for their misfortune in the final third, O'Neill hasn't been able to get the most out of his talented squad. Nick Powell can be unplayable on his day, whereas Steven Fletcher is a seasoned Championship striker. Sam Clucas was left on the bench in midweek, alongside Sam Vokes and recent arrival Jack Clarke. The Ulsterman has plenty of options at his disposal, and may opt to mix things once again.
Luton continued their inconsistent form in midweek with a 2-0 home defeat to Cardiff City. Nathan Jones' men have been fairly tough to beat on the road this season, and their away matches have also been decided by fairly fine margins. Away from Kenilworth Road, they've got a 5-2-8 record, and each of their last four trips have been ended with a same scoreline (1-0).
Only four teams have scored 2+ goals when hosting Luton, and Stoke are unlikely to rediscover their goalscoring touch this weekend. This game may not be pretty, and is likely to be decided by either a moment of brilliance or a defensive howler.
Under 2.5 Goals is extremely short on the Exchange, so backing the draw at 3.39/4 makes plenty of sense here. Stoke won 2-0 in Bedfordshire back in October, however, the points are likely to be shared this time around.
You can follow Jack Critchley on Twitter @jcritch7
Back Swansea to beat Huddersfield @ 2.265/4 (Exchange)
Back Sheffield Wednesday to beat Birmingham @ 2.568/5 (Exchange)
Back Stoke and Luton to draw @ 3.39/4 (Exchange)