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Reading 0-5 Chelsea

The curse of the former player is not usually so potent. Fran Kirby caused Reading problems all afternoon as she notched four goals, in a match that proved Reading are falling behind the clubs in the top four.

Kirby's off the ball runs were almost never tracked, with the former Royal able to run in behind at will. No matter what part of the defence she looked to exploit, she found almost no resistance. Reading only managed to disrupt her flow on a couple of occasions when Jess Fishlock tracked back from midfield and actually managed to put a tackle in.

Carter loses a header, with nobody to cover. Kirby runs in behind and scores, but Mitchell should get back quicker.

For her first two goals, the opposite side centre-back didn't seem interested in trying to stop her run after beating their partner. First off, Cooper missed a header in the middle of the pitch and left Kirby bearing down on Moloney. Mitchell didn't seem to break a sweat until she realised there may be a chance to make a tackle as the forward shifted the ball around the goalkeeper. Mitchell could have forced her into a shot she didn't want to take, had she put pressure on earlier.

Mitchell tries to pass, even though Kirby has cut off the passing lane.

Emma Mitchell's move into the centre didn't work out, as she tried a pass that was never on - particularly because the left-footed pass was always going to make an interception easier. This time Kirby intercepted the pass and used her strength to hold off Mitchell before finishing past Moloney as she looked to close down the angle. Again, Cooper was surprisingly passive in trying to help her centre-back partner. She started with a large advantage over the attacker but was lazy getting back.

Nobody tracks the run of Kirby, who finishes in the middle of the entire Reading team

Goals three and four were headers. She's not even 5'2"! From a free-kick, Kirby peeled off around the back. Leine seemed to tell James to look for her run, but instead she darted into the middle of ten players in blue and white to head in. Moloney felt the ball had gone out before Kerr hooked it back in, but even then it's criminal to allow Kirby to be first to the ball. 

A little run to the front post is enough to get the first contact

She wasn't done after her first-half hat-trick. At a corner, a little run from the centre of the six-yard-box to the front post got her ahead of her marker, and she flicked into the far corner. 5'2". Reading didn't even need to win the initial header, had one of James or Cooper stayed in the six-yard box - they may have had a chance to clear before the ball fell into the net. Late on Ji also found space in the box to finish the scoring, but by that point the game was done.

This free-kick sums up Reading's day. Fara Williams free-kick misses Cooper, who ends up having to go back to the goalkeeper.

Reading didn't have a shot on target, and much of that was down to how poor they were in possession. They only completed 74% of short passes. It was far too easy for Chelsea to pack the middle of the pitch, and give the home side no options to progress the ball. Playing into the channels did work to an extent, but left the receiver without any options.

There's not really a lot to say apart from this simply wasn't good enough. The team are a step off the pace. Consistently allowing high-quality chances, while spurning good positions at the other end. In eleven matches Reading have accrued 13.4 xG, but 6.7 of that occurred in two matches against Bristol City and Aston Villa - currently the bottom two in the league. They've only managed above 1xG four times, whereas they've more conceded more than 1 xGA ten times. They're safe because there are clearly worse sides, but to see others improve while we stand still is frustrating.

A loss this weekend is almost certain, given they're up against Arsenal side who have dispatched anyone outside the top four, but Reading have to show more defensively than they did here, or in the first game against The Gunners.


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