I really wasn’t expecting to be previewing the game against Hull on Saturday on the back of such a woeful performance against Norwich.
Now make no mistake, they’re a strong side. Very organised, very composed, and also very fit – and that’s three adjectives that I can’t use to describe Reading at the moment.
Like many, I was hoping that victory at Preston on Saturday would be the springboard for the rest of the season. Unfortunately we’re back to square one.
Paul Clement picked an unchanged side, rewarding those who started Saturday. I understand the loyalty and reward factor, but I’m also a believer in the horses-for-courses approach.
It was painful to watch the number of long balls that were either intended for Baldock’s head/chest, or in behind the Norwich centre-backs. Truth be told they had a comfortable night. Two commanding and physically imposing centre-backs are at their happiest when play is in front of them.
As was the story Wednesday night. Reading simply didn’t have the quality to unlock them. It actually took a bit of luck after a set piece that brought Reading their goal. It seemed strange pretty much from the get-go that Reading would play the way they did with only Baldock upfront. I’d argue that we’d have been better off with playing two strikers, or Bodvarsson upfront. Baldock’s work-rate was second to none in a Reading shirt, but simply didn’t get the service required.
Looking at Saturday’s game at home to Hull, Paul Clement simply has to make changes. Both Mo Barrow and Josh Sims would both be in my starting XI for Saturday, with Aluko and Meite not performing consistently enough. I’m also not too sure that Liam Kelly and John Swift can play in the same XI consistently and both be affective. The massive Danny Williams shaped hole has still not been filled! Bodvarsson surely deserves a start being the leading goal scorer, and I would expect to see him from the start.
I haven’t got enough time in the week to talk about the Chris Gunter conundrum in full, so I’ll just say that he does not deserve to be playing ahead of Andy Yiadom at full-back. Blackett/Richards are far better suited.
The team I’m predicting to see is as follows;
GK: Sam Walker
RB: Chris Gunter
CB: Liam Moore ©
CB: Tiago Ilori
LB: Andy Yiadom
RM: Sone Aluko
CM: Leandro Bacuna
CM: John Swift
LM: Mo Barrow
CF: Sam Baldock
ST: Jon Dadi Bodvarsson
Former manager Nigel Adkins brings his Hull side to the Madejski having lost at Wigan on Tuesday night. Scoring goals hasn’t been a problem under Adkins, but keeping them out has.
I’d expect both teams to score and see the game end in a 2-2 draw. Not the win required for Reading but not a fifth consecutive home defeat that is looming large.
Up the Buscuitmen!
Picture Credit: Reading FC