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Showing posts from December, 2020

Why Reading Should Sell Michael Olise In January

Michael Olise leaving Reading is not a question of if, but when. The club has to decide whether they should cash in over January, or wait until summer to offload their most valuable asset. A huge part of the equation comes down to two simple questions.  Will Reading make the play-offs this year?  Is Olise integral to that chance? I imagine if you answer yes to the first, you're answering yes to both. After blistering early season form, the side have only won 4 of their last 14, and need to kick into gear to revive their promotion hopes. There are obviously mitigating factors, with injuries to key pieces of the squad. Many are coming to the end of their recovery period, but with Moore injured and Richards also likely to leave it's hard to say we're in a great position. It's also unlikely that Lucas Joao manages to stay fit for the rest of the season, and he's probably the most crucial piece to the puzzle. With John Swift coming back into the team Reading have a ready

Brentford 3-1 Reading

The last time Reading made the play-offs, blowout losses were part of the package. Whether we reach the same heights, a similar trend is developing this season. Reading had got results under control, aided by their opponents' indiscipline, but came up against a much better side in Brentford. Veljko changed back to the 4-4-2 diamond, or you could pretty legitimately describe it as a 4-3-3, that was seen at Blackburn. Laurent sat deep, with Rino and Semedo on either side. Then Olise played behind a front two of Ejaria and Baldock. Due to the way the game went, we only saw that for 25 minutes before we switched back to the normal 4-2-3-1. Initially Ejaria was up top and Baldock wide left, though they swapped after the third goal - I think that may have been due to Baldock's desire to press putting him out of position on more than one occasion. I should point out that The Tilehurst End has an excellent article looking at the tactics in the opening half hour. Conceding soft goals a

Reading 1-2 Manchester United

In a complete reversal to last weekend Reading were up against the side top of the table, rather than the bottom. While giving a good account of themselves, they'll be unhappy in the manner of defeat. Nothing sums up the problem inherent in a 4-2-2-2 quite like the Red Devils using their width to put themselves in 2-on-1 situations in wide areas with dangerous runners in behind. The six players in front of the defence are all focused on the centre of the pitch, allowing time and space wide. The attacking midfield duo are meant to put pressure on opposition fullbacks, but that's slightly easier for 25yo Eikeland on the right than 36yo Williams out left. Another issue is that, given that Reading are always reticent about using their fullbacks in attacking situations lest they be caught out like on United's opening goal, there are often few options when attacking that don't require a skilful pass. That's exacerbated on the break when James and Fishlock aren't legit

Reading 1-2 Norwich City

A loss against Norwich wasn't wholly unexpected, but to do it with two Reading mistakes is - like every week - immensely frustrating. Reading's defensive shape at times looked like a 4-2-4-0 The decision to play Alfa Semedo as the side's false nine - according to Paunovic at least - was a strange one. Not that he really played as a false nine at all. In defence, he dropped in alongside Olise to pack the middle, but even then Reading were often too easy to play through. Had Reading dropped even further, and kept space between the lines to a minimum they could have completely suffocated Norwich, though that may be a bit Bowen. Going forward he played much the same role as Joao in leading the attack, but the play breaks down far too often at his feet. And Norwich slowly learnt that they could expose Reading in wider areas too. The switch to Max Aarons, with the cut inside, had started to show signs of life toward the end of the first half. In the second it would be Reading'

QPR 0-1 Reading

You know that you've swapped timelines when The Hoops Derby is the only Reading match not on TV.  One of those balls into the box, but Baldock just doesn't get there. The striker has played just over five-and-a-half hours football all season, so hopefully has shaken off that rust. Baldock has picked up a lot of stick, but I think it's due to a misunderstanding of his role. His one job is to keep making runs behind - not necessarily to receive the ball, but to create space in the middle of the park for Reading to play. Birmingham were able to pack the midfield at The Madejski in the first half because there was nobody making those runs. Obviously, this does necessitate him occasionally receiving the ball otherwise it's too easy to defend, but that's almost secondary. And there were a few balls into the box that on another day he gets on the end of. Ejaria's stands out in the memory, but Josh Laurent fired one across the box after a magnificent run, and Semedo had

Reading 1-1 Bristol City

Reading recorded their fourth consecutive 1-1 WSL draw in a match that should have been an easy win. As in the last match before the international break, Reading lined up in a 4-2-2-2. Brooke Chaplen was replaced by Fara Williams behind the strikers What can you say about a match that you dominate, but failed to take chances? It's been that way all season. The only time The Royals have scored more than once was against Villa in the second game of the season, but on the flip side they've only conceded more than once on the opening day when Arsenal put six past them. All of that is a tad irrelevant to this game. To sum up just how dominant the home side were, they had almost the same number of touches in Bristol City's penalty area (59) as the away side had in the whole final third (61), and a third of the Reading's touches were in the third they were attacking (250 / 741). The home side had 71% possession and 33 shots. As I say, dominant. Harding screws her shot wide aft

Reading 1-2 Birmingham City

If there's one side you don't want to face when your team is largely built on transition, it's an Aitor Karanka side.  The Royals, yet again, showed their deficiencies against a packed defence. Far too tentative in possession, and not brave enough with trying to beat a man or switches in play to stretch the Birmingham defence. The away side defended in a 4-4-2, which caused almost identical issues to the match away at Millwall. They screened passes between the lines and forced play wide. Reading's lack of legitimate width killed them - with Ejaria looking to dribble inside, and Meite making out-in runs, meaning that everyone was looking to play in the congested middle. Reading started with a 4-2-3-1, but switched to a 4-1-3-2 later in the match. There were some attempts to play long into, or in behind Joao and Meite, but that tactic really only started in earnest in the second half. Reading swapped early in the half to a 4-1-3-2. Having Laurent sit deep, with the rest o

Reading 2-0 Nottingham Forest

If midweek, where The Royals played against ten men for an hour, didn't harbour any real insight for more general play, then there's probably even less to glean playing a Forest side who were a man down within fifteen minutes. This time Reading were awarded both the penalty they were consistently denied on Wednesday and the red card that wasn't given against Bristol City. Taylor manages to get himself into space But before any of that, Rafael came up big . Reading fans' two favourite players combined, Anthony Knockaert's free-kick was volleyed toward goal by Lyle Taylor but Raf's well-positioned arms (it was too close to properly react) saved a certain goal. Holmes had a bit of a ropey game defensively, and it was his failure to properly track Taylor that allowed the chance. At the other end, Brice Samba was at it again. Olise's freekick was overhit and should have been gathered by the keeper. Except he palmed it onto Holmes' head, and the ball looped to

Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Reading

Realistically, what can you learn from a game like Wednesday's? Sheffield Wednesday never ventured out of their defensive shape, save for one attack that saw them score, and in the second half, they almost entirely abandoned their offensive mindset. Meanwhile, Reading were completely dominant, but couldn't find a route past Wildsmith more than once, often not helped by the referee. Holmes has to do better to block the cross, and Laurent should apply more pressure to Patterson. I suppose we should first deal with Sheffield Wednesday's only real chance, converted by Paterson in the 12th minute. Ejaria was caught trying to squeeze past Banan and Luongo. Harris picked up the ball and slotted it between Morrison and Holmes, the latter being caught upfield, right into Adam Reach's path. Holmes did recover, only for the Sheffield Wednesday winger to shift the ball slightly to the left and put in a cross anyway. Paterson's header couldn't have been better, nutmegging Mo

Reading 3-1 Bristol City

What Reading lacked up until the weekend was a statement win. A performance to truly back up the initial form. The Royals produced that against Bristol City. Although Reading were playing a 4-2-3-1, Meite pushed on to exploit chances on the counter The first half was cagey, with both sides more concerned about keeping things tight at the back. Rinomhota and Laurent did a stellar job protecting the back four, with Holmes and Richards easily dealing with danger in the wide areas - especially given Bristol's 3-5-2 meant overloads out wide weren't an issue. Reading struggled to play out against Millwall but had no such issue this time around. Laurent dropped between the centre backs to create the angles seen in the second half at The Den, but playing direct up to Meite or Joao was always an option too. Bypassing the midfield meant that Reading could fairly consistently have good numbers at the offensive end of the pitch as the away side left three back while Reading had Meite, Joao