Skip to main content

Reading 1-1 Arsenal

Reading gave a much better performance, even if they relied on Arsenal not converting as they tired in defence.

Arsenal's CB has nowhere to go, and they end up penned in the corner where Reading force a poor pass.

The main improvement was the quality of the press. Reading changed their entire left-hand side. Mitchell shifted across to her usual left back role, Rachel Rowe replaced Fara Williams, and Bruton came in up front. The pairing of Rowe and Bruton were a handful for large parts of the afternoon. Rowe makes 19.2 pressures per game, whereas Williams only registers 12.5 (only kept off bottom by the centre-backs), though they are relatively similar in successful pressures. 

The home side's defensive shape largely started as man-to-man marking, which makes it easy to initiate the press regardless of where the ball goes. This is further aided by Eikeland and Rowe applying back pressure and dispossessing Arsenal players in midfield before they've had a chance to scan.

A simple pass should see Bruton with a great chance, but Fishlock overhits the pass

In a game that Reading only managed four shots, it's perhaps hard to say that Reading were good going forward, but the press saw Reading win the ball in dangerous areas, and some sloppy play cost better opportunities. The afternoon was best summed up when Fishlock stole the ball from Roord midway in the Arsenal half, drew the CB toward her, but forced Bruton wide with her pass.

One of the major changes from the game at Boreham Wood was that Reading's fullbacks were much flatter in possession, which gave Miedema less space to exploit behind them. Even when Leine ventured forward, she was able to get back while the midfield made it difficult for the away team to pick long passes. Toward the end, Leine and Mitchell were still exposed 1v1 against Mead and Foord as Arsenal went to a front four, while Reading's press tired. The 4-2-2-2 can struggle to protect the flanks at the best of times, and The Gunner's fresh legs would have made the difference but for some suspect finishing.

Everything aligned to draw Reading players inside. Eikeland and Mitchell tracking runs. Bruton and Rowe after finishing their initial press.

For all Reading's good work, if they're going to continue to give up free headers in the box, they'll continue to be punished. This time Moloney actually made a fine save from Jill Roord's header, but Miedema was never going to miss the follow up. The press (going to need to come up with a synonym for that) can be a double-edged sword, and they were made to pay as the midfield took themselves out of the match. Rowe lost the ball from a throw and pressured the ball, alongside both Bruton and Eikeland. They were played around, and Mitchell found herself outnumbered on the left.

Fishlock is never going to best Roord in the air, and maybe because of that looked to cut out the ball before it arrived. Patten's cross was placed over the top of her, and Roord had a free header. Bartrip is looking to cut off the ball across the six-yard box, and Eikeland has made an odd run toward van de Donk. Somebody needs to take responsibility, and it screams of a lack of communication.

What the match clearly showed is that Reading need the legs in midfield that Fara Williams fails to give you. If anything  Plus they hammered home the point by opening the scoring from a free-kick without their talisman. Granted, on the whole, the quality of set pieces weren't as high as they could have been, but they still managed to grind out their patented one-all draw.

But for a horrible injury to Leine at the end of the match there isn't too much to be upset about (for once). Thankfully it should continue, as we face a Villa side who haven't had much luck so far this season.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Bowen's Brand New Box

The first game of pre-season is done, and wasn't it an interesting one? Mark Bowen previewed a brand new 3-6-1, with more central midfielders than anybody could have dreamt of.  As theorized  we played a back-three and wing-backs. The midfield, however, had that unexpected additional body, meaning that Joao played as a lone striker. The 3-6-1. Swift and Laurent are allowed to go forward but are usually content with being behind the play. Consistency is a much sought after commodity in football, so I suppose it can be classed as a positive that there's only a single new recruit in the squad. Laurent's role as one of the deeper midfielders was slightly surprising, because everything from his stint at Shrewsbury implied that he's a similar, but more offensive player than Rinomhota. Swift takes the majority of the ball, so he's not expected to be the main playmaker, but he was comfortable in possession and picks the right pass when needed. Plus his pressing, and positio

A Potted History of Veljko Paunović

Veljko Paunović is Reading manager. The Serbian is a relative unknown here, but after leading his home nation to the U20 World Cup he put his name on the proverbial map. That lead to taking over at MLS side Chicago Fire in 2015, where he stayed for four years before being fired with one of the worst ever MLS records. For the past year, he's been unemployed. Serbia's victory at the U20 World Cup in New Zealand was a surprise. 2015 remains the only tournament that Serbia has qualified for since the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The tournament opened with a loss to Uruguay, a game in which they played a 3-6-1. For the subsequent group games they switched to a 4-2-3-1 or alternated to a 4-1-4-1; both Mali and Mexico were dispatched 2-0. They kept the same set-up for the knock-out phase, but were never as convincing, needing extra time in every round. An injury-time equaliser against Hungary combined with an own goal in the round of 16, penalties were required to see off The USA in the

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