Reading won a home game folks. What a welcome relief it was too. It was a peculiar, unfamiliar Saturday afternoon, where a team visiting the Madejski looked absolutely terrible, and left pointless. Hull’s performance on Saturday was surely them at their worst. Reading’s performance was far from their best. They really didn’t pull up any trees. That might just sum up the Championship. That said, there was a monumental improvement from the much changed Reading side.
Paul Clement would probably rotate the squad without much of a whimper, had he had a fully fit squad. As we approach October, and the notoriously tricky winter period, he still has a number of first team players missing through injury. Instead he was forced to bring in relatively unknown quantities, and take players out of their comfort zone. The best alteration Clement made was bringing in Iranian central midfielder Saeid Ezatolahi. A player of his style has been lacking all season. He was commanding in defence and assertive when in possession. He was very willing to experiment on the ball, very keen to play forward. This was refreshing to see given the struggles that the Reading midfield have had thus far. Ezatolahi’s inclusion allowed Liam Kelly far more freedom, but the real plus was Leandro Bacuna. He had a little less defensive responsibility, which allowed him to play a role very similar to one that Danny Williams used to operate in.
Josh Sims was finally given the start that his performances have warranted, and he put in another positive performance on the right hand side. Behind him at right-back he had Tiago Ilori, who put in a very solid performance. Sam Baldock played well despite also playing out of position wide on the left, but he had the star of the day Andy Yiadom behind him at left-back.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s trip to Brentford, it would be easy to field a very similar side that defeated Hull. Brentford are an exceptionally strong team at home, and have a very established way of playing. It’s imperative in my mind that Clement opts for three central midfielders again. Soaking up pressure and using possession well are very important factors for the weekend’s game. Having three central midfielders also allows slightly more freedom in the wide areas. I would go for Sims and Barrow in those roles, who have both shown solid defensive aptitude as well as great potential on the counter-attack. I’ve got my predicted line-ups wrong every game so far this season, so I can only expect the same outcome on Saturday afternoon.
There could be some injury returnees this weekend, but I would only expect them to take a place on the sub’s bench. McShane, Meyler, and Mannone are the closest to returning by all accounts, though Garath McCleary and Callum Harriott, both long term absentees have both got minutes for the U-23’s in the last couple of weeks.
So my predicted line-up for this weekend is as follows;
GK: Sam Walker
RB: Chris Gunter
CB: Liam Moore ©
CB: Tiago Ilori
LB: Andy Yiadom
RM: Josh Sims
CM: Leandro Bacuna
CM: Saeid Ezatolahi
CM: John Swift
LM: Mo Barrow
ST: Jon Dadi Bodvarsson
I’ll hope that Reading can build on Saturday’s win, and with a full week of training, can put in another strong performance. My score prediction is 1-1. Up the Biscuitmen!
Picture Credit: Reading FC