Sheffield Wednesday – champions elect?

Sheffield Wednesday arrive at The Valley on Saturday unbeaten in nineteen League outings, of which they have won thirteen.

The only three teams to have beaten them this season are Peterborough (a), Barnsley (h) and Plymouth (a) and the most recent of those defeats was back in October. They now sit top of League One with a game in hand on second-place Plymouth. They have the best defensive record (22 conceded) in the League and only Ipswich have scored more than their 58 goals.  Strikers Josh Windass and Michael Smith have 21 League goals between them and they have the luxury of being able to use former Millwall goal scorer Lee Gregory from the bench. In midfield they have one of the best players in League One in Barry Bannon. They even have Akin Famewo who has just returned to the bench after a long injury.

Having lost to Sunderland last May in the play-offs, they are showing few signs of faltering this season. It is likely that we will be watching this season's champions on Saturday.

Meanwhile we are doomed to be spending a fourth consecutive season in the third tier, which will be our longest stay at this level since Jimmy Seed took us out of it in 1935. The only remaining challenge might be to avoid our worst finish since 1926 when we ended up 21st in The Third Division (South). To do so we will have to finish above the fourteenth position that the squad of 1973/74 managed. With tough games against Peterborough and Plymouth coming up we could find ourselves as low as seventeenth by the end of next week.

And yet, when we went to Hillsborough back in August, we more than matched them and, but for some panicky finishing, would have won the game or at least got a draw. Most Charlton fans left the stadium that day feeling optimistic about our chances under Ben Garner and this feeling was only enhanced three days later when we beat Plymouth 5-1. Six months later most fans would consider that a repeat of last year's home 0-0 draw with Wednesday would be a remarkable achievement.