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Leeds 1-0 Reading

Reading failed to snatch any points from their second trip to Yorkshire in a week, but losing by a goal against a team in the automatic places is respectable.

Bowen stuck with the tried and tested 4-1-4-1, but with the twist of pushing Rinomhota further forward to man-mark Kalvin Phillips. Pelé came straight back into the starting eleven, even given the success of The Swift Experiment the week prior.

Reading's man marking. Olise just fails to shield the pass along the line, but either way Leeds are then pushed back to their own third.

Reading's defensive shape was interesting. Reading tried to force Leeds to play through the middle of the pitch. Olise tried to cut off the pass to Costa, while Meite did the same on the right against Harrison. Then Pelé and Swift sat slightly deeper in the middle. Often picking up Klich and Hernández, but allowing the defence to take over responsibility if they attempted to run in behind and instead screened the passes.

A key part of Reading's first half was their ability to run with the ball. It allowed them to play out from the back and beat the Leeds press. Overall they completed twelve dribbles, with eight of those coming within the first forty minutes. Pelé showcased a different side of his game - one we saw briefly against WBA - with energetic bursts forward, instead of solely being in the team to protect the back four. Olise, too, had his moments. I'm sure everyone has seen his pirouette to take out two Leeds players, but more impressive was how he breezed past Phillips in the middle of the pitch as if he wasn't there.

Olise plays a slide rule pass into Meite, but the striker wasn't quite on his toes. Puscas also makes an intelligent run into space.

The teenager was instrumental early in the game when Reading looked most dangerous. He drifted in off his wing to play more centrally, with Richards pushing up on the left to provide that width. On a couple of occasions, balls across to Meite caught the Ivorian on the back foot; hopefully, something that playing time can rectify. Richards also had an impressive game on the left. The two youngsters combined to keep Costa quiet and can be an attacking threat too.

Much has been said on twitter - particularly another excellent thread from Steven - about Pelé's role in the Leeds goal. Early in the build-up he defends against Hernandez on the halfway line but loses his man as the attack progresses. It's difficult to know whether his contributions during the rest of the match are good enough to justify his place, but given his loan is up soon it may be good to start looking at alternative options anyway. Personally, I'd like to see Swift's deeper, more creative role, especially in the games coming up at home. Potentially in a 4-2-3-1 with Rinomhota doing most of the hard work alongside him. That'd allow a mouthwatering attacking trio of Olise - Ejaria - Meite behind Puscas.

Adam delivers from deep. Moore wins the header, but the knock down just evades Rinomhota. The midfielder has plenty of space due to three Leeds defenders dealing with Meite and Moore.

The other (perhaps larger) talking point directly after the game seems to be regarding Baldock and Bowen's lack of substitutions. My viewpoint on Baldock hasn't really changed. He doesn't fit into the current system, and without a fundamental shift in how we play, he doesn't offer much. That's compounded after bringing on Adam - who was looking to put in balls from deep. In that sense, the decision to move Moore up top, instead of making use of the substitutes, was a completely rational one. He offered another target, has good movement, and actually managed to get in for the best chance of the match from a Reading perspective. Maybe Baldock would have taken that chance, but would he have been in that position? I doubt it - because he's always looking to be on the shoulder of the defender, rather than playing in the space in front of him.

Puscas links well with Meite, who gets in behind the Leeds defence. Puscas runs inside, but Meite can't find him on the edge of the area. Meite will give a lot, but chances like these are not his strong point.

Our striker that actually had game time, Puscas, still has room to improve but again showed signs of promise. He seems to be improving his hold up play in particular, often moving into the channels and playing back inside. the win That did open up space that Reading could look to exploit if playing a more attacking brand of football. As it is Rinomhota and the winger both looked to provide support, but there was no rush to get forward.

I'm still not convinced by the frequent switches to 4-4-2. It forced Rinomhota out onto the right and meant we had to take off Swift, who is so important to our attacking output. I assume keeping the four in midfield was mainly to stop overloads out wide if Leeds were able to break because they weren't there to provide any width. It does mean that we had a front two, and the Meite/Puscas partnership seems to be developing - they didn't bump into each other once this match.

So we move onto easier games, at least on paper. As I say, against teams at home I think we have to be playing a more attacking game. We can't let teams sit in front of us and fail to break them down like when Hull came to the Madejski. Swift should be playing in the 'holding' role in those games, where it's not as important to have cover. There's a real argument for Olise playing off the right rather than Meite - if Ejaria is fit to regain his starting place on the left. I appreciate that it loses all our aerial presence, but we may not need it if we play out from the back and look to get our key players on the ball in dangerous positions.


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