Carvalhal may be in for a painful return to Sheffield
Wednesday can give Swansea a tough game
FA Cup fifth round
BT Sport 2, 12.30pm Saturday
For a team who apparently aren’t taking the FA Cup seriously Swansea are doing pretty well in it, but there is a definite case for thinking that Carlos Carvalhal’s side are heading for the exit when he goes back to his old stamping ground.
The Swansea chief, fired by Sheffield Wednesday on Christmas Eve, would doubtless love to put one over on his former employers on his first return to Hillsborough since that yuletide bombshell.
But Carvalhal has made it abundantly clear that top-flight survival is the only thing on his mind and his selection will be governed by the bigger picture.
That hasn’t stopped the Swans from seeing off Sky Bet Championship winners-elect Wolves and putting eight past Notts County in the two previous rounds.
But despite the Welsh club’s improvements under Carvalhal they still boast a seriously unconvincing away record and will be some way from full-strength, so backing the Owls, perhaps +0.25 on the Asian handicap, looks the way to go.
The draw certainly looks a decent runner which is why the handicap bet is a preferred option to Wednesday draw no bet. Five of Wednesday’s last nine have ended in draws while each of Swansea’s last four road trips have ended all-square.
It’s interesting that Swansea are getting plaudits galore for their improvement under Carvalhal, who was appointed just four days after getting the axe at Wednesday.
It was an appointment which received a lukewarm reception but the Portuguese boss has hoisted the Swans out of the bottom three and they have lost just one of their last 11.
However that tells only half the story because they are still struggling to win away and have recorded just one success in their last 12 road trips.
They drew at Molineux in round three and at Meadow Lane in the fourth round, so the signs are definitely there. With the handicap bet, if the match ends all-square, half is paid as a winner with the other half of the stake returned.
Carvalhal made seven changes to his team for the replay against Notts County and looked on in disbelief as Swansea won 8-1. It could have been 4-4 at half-time but once the Magpies’ resistance was ended it simply became a training exercise for the Premier League outfit.
This should be different, especially with Wednesday feeling good about life after beating promotion hopefuls Derby 2-0 on Tuesday.
The Yorkshire side have only lost two of their last 11 and are looking a lot more solid under Jos Luhukay.
He has had to deal with a crippling injury crisis which has been a factor in their tumble down the second tier, but they are getting a lot of their key players back. And if Lucas Joao can produce another “unplayable” performance – Derby boss Gary Rowett’s description of him – then the home team carry a significant threat.
Sheffield Wednesday +0.25 on Asian handicap
1pt 97-100 bet365
Midfielder Sean Clare is ineligible. Centre-back Tom Lees and midfielder Barry Bannan are still a week away. Ross Wallace is the latest of several crocks to be back in contention.
Leroy Fer, Wilfried Bony, Renato Sanches and Angel Rangel are out. Andre Ayew and Andy King are ineligible. Leon Britton is a doubt.
Swansea have won only one of their last 12 away matches.
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