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Luton Town 0-5 Reading

I'm going to stop hyping up Luton. They've let me down twice this year, and this loss has to have a significant impact on their chances of staying up. From a blue point of view, it was all too easy.

The open game suited Reading down to the ground. We love to invite teams on to us and look to counter into space, and that's exactly what we were allowed to do. That's made even easier when Luton's defence seem hesitant to actually tackle anyone. It didn't take much for Swift or Ejaria to shift the ball one way and create enough separation to cause issues for the home side.

Meite's run not tracked by anyone. Tunnicliffe has a great view but was far too late to sense the danger. 

Yakou Meite was clinical. It's not every day a Reading player, or any player, scores four goals. This match actually showcased both sides of Meite. It seems ludicrous to say it, but he was relatively quiet. His 24 touches were the fewest of any starter, and he won fewer aerial duels than normal - only 2. Where he excelled, however, was his finishing. It's common knowledge that Yakou is exceptional when he's acting on instinct. With that in mind, it's absolutely no surprise that he needed no more than two touches for each strike. We saw that in the latter part of last season under Gomes - his job was to win the initial header, then put himself in the box and get on the end of Barrow's crosses.

To be fair, he also ended up in the right positions each time. He got a little lucky with the first - there's not a chance that Puscas meant to play it through, but he saw that both CBs got dragged across and that there was room to attack into. Again, a little lucky that Matty Pearson cleared the ball straight to him for goal #2, but the finish was good. He managed to time his run well as Ejaria took out the entire defence with his through ball for goal 3, and, finally, he reacted quicker to steal in front of Sonny Bradley and finish his personal rout.

Luton allow Meite an easy pass into the channel for Osho to run onto. We've seen that he's not the best with the ball at his feet, but he was never put under pressure.

But while there is no doubt that he deserved his goals, it's also crucial to say that Luton were spectacularly poor at dealing with him. They paid absolutely no attention as he made runs in behind, and their system meant that he could easily shift the ball to Osho under no real pressure.

Again all the Luton players are attracted toward the ball, and nobody tracks Meite's run despite the number of bodies back

What Reading did well was to take the pressure off him to deal with build up by attacking mainly down the left. Ejaria, Swift, and Blackett just riffing down that side. Ejaria drifted toward the centre without any real threat from the RB keeping him on the wing. I've been calling him to play behind the striker(s) for a while now, and I think his assist shows what he could contribute from that position. A wonderfully measured ball left Meite with a simple finish. Interestingly the Liverpool loanee (if that's what he officially still is) was always looking to cut-off Carters-Vickers running forward, so it's nice to see we've learnt from our Derby mistakes.

Blackett getting forward on the left provided the width, and exploited the space out wide that Luton give up in their 4-4-2 diamond. His understanding with Swift and Ejaria elevates him above the other choices at LB, and the team's improvement in this game does give an illustration of what we're missing. He gets forward quicker than Richards or Obita, picks the right pass, and has an absolutely killer cross on him. It's not the first time we've seen it, but it may be the last as he set-up Puscas goal (even if not officially). A deep ball to the back post had Morrison mismatched versus Potts. Pearson picked up McIntyre instead of Puscas, and Collins never got goal side. The Romanian's first goal since the restart couldn't have been easier.

John Swift spots the danger at the back, and sprints to win the header at the near post. McIntyre not alert to the run.

It is clear that Bowen's decision to give Swift the armband was a stroke of genius. Yes, he was involved with play going forward - Luton giving him ample space to play and push into. But more importantly, he worked hard defensively. I think that Swift has been unfairly characterised by some as a player who can't tackle, but it's undeniable that he hasn't been up to his best since the restart. Either way, I wouldn't have expected him to be the player to spot the danger and make sure to get himself in his own box to win the header at 2-0 up.

Reading were obviously fairly decent defensively. Content to sit back in the mid-block, and forcing Izzy Brown to drop deep. We were less agressive in our man-to-man marking which kept the shape, and made us harder to play though. The assertions of how much better our defence looks with Moore dropped seems to forget that we were playing bottom of the league. James Collins hit the bar at 0-0, and Dan Potts took too long when unmarked at the back post. With that said I think both McIntyre and Osho did exactly what they needed to, and I'm more than happy to have both in the side. (Get that contract signed Gabriel)

Pelé pushes up into a midfield three, and Morrison reacts to Brown getting the ball between the lines

Pelé did his job well in his first match back. His yellow after 15 minutes was a tad silly given the amount of cover, but Mpanzu had ridden the challenge of Swift, and I suppose it could have become dangerous if you wanted to be generous. He would shade over to the side Izzy Brown was on, but, as mentioned, he wouldn't mark as tightly as we have done recently. If Brown got between the lines, then Morro was quick to see the danger. I don't think not having Pelé would have made a massive difference, but it is clear we need to sign someone in his mould in this current transfer window that we're now in.

All in all, I wouldn't read too much into this result. We won't play a team this disorganised again. It's nice to be able to say that McIntyre and Osho earnt a clean sheet, but that was down to Luton. It's nice to be able to say Meite has found form, but that was down to Luton too. If anything it shows the potential that we have, but this was against a side likely soon to be in League One.


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