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Showing posts from April, 2020

Scout Report: Stoke City

Still no football, but in a concerted effort to keep myself sane, I'll be reviewing our final nine opponents just in case the season ever does restart. Which is more than unlikely, especially with teams in the form portrayed here.

At the turn of the year, Stoke changed from a 4-3-3 (4-1-2-3) to a 4-2-3-1. Jordan Cousins, who had been the holding player throughout December, lost favour to Nick Powell playing behind the striker. Clucas and Allen in midfield dropped a little deeper, although they're still involved offensively. Up top Tyrese Campbell has forced his way into the side over the likes of more old fashioned figures of Sam Vokes and Lee Gregory.

There's been a lot of change at the back. Stephen Ward's injury meant Bruno Martins Indi moved out to the left, and James Chester's arrival on loan from Aston Villa meant there's no space for Liam Lindsay.



There are clearly areas of improvement defensively for a team who have shipped four goals on two occasions t…

Reading's Best XI

In this semi-off season, there's obviously a great deal less football to dissect, but there's a topic that's always fun - squad depth. Considering where we are in the season I'll only be considering those with deals who run past June, with the exception of Ovie Ejaria who you would assume we'll pick up the option for.

So, what is Reading's best side?

Were I to be playing Football Manager the first thing I would do is attempt to filter out the best players; Those to centre the team around. In the Reading squad there are a few candidates for this, but I think there are two that stand out above the rest. Legitimate 'franchise players', were the term to have the same relevance in UK sport.

John Swift, and Michael Olise.

I will come to the glaring omission shortly, but, for me, these two are the primary talents at our disposal. Both are adept at pinging balls around, and both are young enough that - while easily good enough for the division - haven't rea…

Birmingham City 1-3 Reading

It seems that Bowen has discovered his new formula. An unchanged line-up for the third game running - the first time since Joao was injured in January.

The game started badly. Miazga's header back to Rafael didn't quite make it to the goalkeeper. Scott Hogan stole in between the two, and his touch past the keeper dropped straight in. It was a fairly high-risk header, but Rafael was caught a little on his heels. It's just one of those mistakes that there isn't much point over analysing - especially given the two have barely played together.

In the opening half-hour, the main issue was Birmingham's press. Whenever a Reading player received the ball they were routinely accosted by three blue shirts. Sunjic, in particular, seemed to be all over the place. That was exacerbated by sloppy Reading play. Passes routinely failed to find their target, and decision making was anything but on point. When we did manage to bypass the press there would be a foul pretty quickly aft…

Reading 1-2 Sheffield United (AET)

As you may be able to tell, from the fact it's been almost a month since the game, I wasn't originally planning on writing about our spirited FA Cup defeat, but then football stopped and I was left with very few choices.

I guess we should start with the obvious - an extra-time defeat to a good Premier League team is hardly an aberration. Bowen stuck with the same team that played against Barnsley. A surprise, given the number of rotation options, and the proximity to the Barnsley game. I thought he would go for Pelé in CDM to add that defensive solidity at the very least. (It's certainly possible that Swift kept his place in part because Sheffield United's 3-5-2 isn't really centred around someone attacking that space, even if McGoldrick was more than happy to drop off Mousset looking for the ball. That means Swift had more time than he would have done had he been in amongst United's midfield trio.)

The game couldn't have got off to a much worse start. With…