Skip to main content

Arsenal 6-1 Reading

You've had an extended break since last year's football, pre-season squad building went well, then you come up against Arsenal. Reading were outclassed in almost every aspect. The narrow diamond allowed space out wide that was ruthlessly exploited by Arsenal, and their sloppiness on the ball hampered their attacking output.

Leah Williamson in too much space to cross, Leine misses her chance to clear by not getting off the ground

Both came together for the opening goal, as Kristine Leine's poor pass was intercepted. Jess Fishlock, the new OL Reign loanee, didn't close down quickly enough and Leah Williamson capitalised on the space by chipping the ball perfectly into Kim Little's path. Leine missed her head, and chance to amend, and Little's volley was exquisitely put past Grace Maloney.

Arsenal attackers looked to exploit Reading full-backs high starting positions and managed that perfectly for their second goal.

And that was really the story of the match - Reading a step off the pace, and Arsenal clinical. The second goal is Natasha Harding allowing Jordan Nobbs to run behind, and squaring it to a Vivienne Miedema. You don't need to follow women's football to know she's going to score in that position. It was unclear whether centre-back Deanna Cooper or left-back Emma Mitchell should have been watching the striker. Cooper seemed unaware of the striker's presence until the ball across, and Mitchell was caught too high up. It must be said - Miedema's movement is a real asset.

James comes across to help wide, one of James or Williams needed to cut off the ball into the centre.

Disorganisation again for goal three, and that LCM the main culprit. Fishlock pushed up, Williams dropped in. Angharad James, the defensive midfielder, came across to cover - where Williams should have been - leaving Jill Roord free in the middle.

Good movement from Arsenal once again, with Little running across the defence. Reading may have benefitted by having an extra central defender.

More movement undid the backline, Beth Mead's ball into Roord was cushioned into the path of Little. Fishlock failed to track the run, and it was too easy to slide the ball back to Roord to tap in. Made easier by Cooper committing the cardinal sin of appealing for offside while making no real effort to stop the goal. Goal five - short corner routine. Instead of tracking Miedema, Harding had to double up on substitute Caitlin Foord. She shifted the ball to the Dutchwoman, who fired above Maloney.

To round it out Reading started assisting themselves. Lauren Bruton's misplaced pass picked up by Miedema. A shimmy and a turn before laying it off to Foord, who slid across to a completely unmarked Roord to score the sixth.

There were some common themes running through those goals. Being exposed on the flanks, defensive midfielder being too slow to react to danger, lack of pace defensively. The switch from a 4-4-2 diamond in the first half, to a 4-3-3 in the second was a subtle change, but one that lessened the protection in front of the back four. Having an extra central defender feels like an obvious fix for a lot of these goals - helping to deal with Little's movement, and making it harder for Miedema to find space wide of the centre backs.

There were some positives. James in front of the defence picked some nice progressive passes to move the team up the field, and it was slightly strange that Fishlock took that role in the second half. Reading's high press worked well but took until the eighty-ninth minute to pay off. Danielle Carter, who looked lively all match, literally tackling Arsenal's goalkeeper to score Reading's only goal.

6-1 is Reading's worse defeat since Arsenal beat them 6-0 in 2018, but they represent Reading's two worst WSL defeats. Next weekend's match, against last season's Women's Championship winners, Aston Villa, should be a very different proposition.


Popular posts from this blog

Replacing Omar Richards

In the summer team report I wrote: "we  really  don't want to be going into 2021/2022 without any LBs so a new contract for Omar has to be on the agenda early". And yet, that seems to be exactly what's happening with Richards set to depart for pastures new. Whether he goes to Bayern Munich or not, bigger clubs are circling. There's a couple of options internally, and the club are also looking elsewhere. Ethan Bristow The youngster has been the go-to left-back for cup matches and tends to start for the U23s. He's been brought onto the bench since Richards' injury, but has found himself behind Gibson and McIntyre in the pecking order. Bristow's little run inside drags the right-back narrow, and gives Aluko space to attack He has good vision to spot a pass, and often plays them first time to not allow the defence to put him under pressure. That's normally followed by an intelligent run, and not always to get the ball - sometimes he simply pulls a defe

Reading FC Season Review | 2020/2021

When your season starts with your manager having to watch your opening match from the hotel because he's not been hired in time to beat the quarantine, anything above getting relegated should probably be classed as a success. And Reading exceeded surely even the most optimistic of pre-season predictions. Veljko Paunovic Veljko Paunovic almost exclusively utilised a core group of players in a 4-2-3-1, only changing things when enforced. One of the consequences of that is that Reading had more players play over 3,000 minutes than any other side (roughly three-quarters of the season). That consistency is often seen as a good thing, but in a condensed season, it surely contributed to the injury woes. It can't have helped that the manager also used the second-fewest number of players over the course of the season. His substitutions were often categorised as late (Reading's subs played just 16 minutes on average, only Norwich's played fewer) or non-existent (Reading were 19t

Bournemouth 4-2 Reading

Reading slipped out of the promotion places for the first time this season after a fourth defeat. It looked like the international break had worked for the away side, after they lead by two goals at the break, only to concede four after half time. Semedo plays both a poor pass, and the wrong pass. Should drive, or pass to Aluko in space rather than trying a very difficult through ball. Before the game, I was critical of Alfa Semedo's continued inclusion, but it was his long legs nipping in before Begovic that won Reading their penalty. Despite that he just didn't offer enough in the rest of the match, costing his team going both ways. In the first half he had a great opportunity with a header - admittedly a chance he helped to create - but he got it completely wrong. As a defensive midfielder, heading should be well within his wheelhouse. Then there was the first time ball to try to put Ejaria through that went completely wrong, rather than easier pass to the completely unmarke