Opposition Focus: Reading

Image: Reading FC

Form: Reading have been on a bit of a topsy-turvy spell as of late. They’re last 5 matches consist of 3 losses & 2 wins, however, the two wins have been at home, meaning that (although pretty normal) they are much weaker on the road, which will definitely play to our advantage. They come into the game off the back of a 1-0 win over top-6 challengers Preston, Modou Barrow with the goal for The Royals.

Formation: They’ve experimented with a number of formations in recent weeks, including a 4-2-3-1, 4-5-1 & a 4-3-3, all of which are interchangeable depending on what personnel you have. It’s hard to call exactly what they’ll go with, but I suspect away from home, they’ll go with a 4-5-1 and try to set up for a point from the word go.

Dangerman: Step forward, Sone Aluko. Expect this to come and bite us on the backside but I’ll take the risk. I never really warmed to Aluko, I never thought he was all that good and I was glad we got rid of him for the price we did. For someone who’s meant to be a forward/winger, his goalscoring record was not great and it hasn’t continued at his new club. 11 goals in 69 games for Fulham & Reading, so worse than 1 in 6, simply not good enough.

Battle to watch: Chris Gunter v Ryan Sessegnon. Arguably the best right back from the British Isles against arguably the best left winger in the British Isles. Now Chris Gunter may not be the fastest man on the planet, but what he lacks in pace he more than makes up for in awareness and his ability to read the game. This will be one of Sess’s toughest battles of the season & one that could prove very tricky for him.

Head to Head:

  • Fulham have failed to win in their last 4 meetings with Reading – drawing 2 and losing 2.
  • Reading have scored exactly 1 goal in those 4 games – all of them coming in the second half.
  • However, Fulham have scored 17 in their last 6 home matches against Reading – winning 4 and drawing 1 in the process.
  • Players responsible for 4 of the goals that Fulham scored in last season’s 5-0 home victory will be in the Reading squad on Tuesday – Sone Aluko and Chris Martin (2) have since joined the Royals while Chris Gunter netted an own-goal in the fixture.
  • There have been 4 red cards shown in the last 9 meetings between the clubs – 2 for each side.

Opposition view (@JakeMooreSport):

What’s gone right for Reading? We’re now adjusting to life under Paul Clement and a new manager always brings a bit of extra excitement into the equation (as well as nerves due to the situation we’re in). His record stands at two wins and a loss, whereas the previous manager Jaap Stam was on a run of 1 win in 17/18, so to have two come in Clement’s first three games has given fans something to shout about. There’s still a long way to go but I feel PC has re-installed everything we needed into the club which has got the fans and players closer together and even after just three games we can all see elements of positive change.

What’s gone wrong for Reading? When Stam first joined last season it was his first proper managerial venture so nobody (including Reading fans) knew what he was going to implement in terms of his tactics and style. Obviously, it started off well but this season he had no plan B so it was easy for teams to work us out and evidently punish us for it. Due to refusal to change things up and failure to get results obviously relationship between fans/players/Stam suffered and never really recovered. It looked like he’d lost the dressing room. The players weren’t performing and effort levels were dropping so the mood around the club was the worst I’ve seen in a long time.

Prediction? Fulham are obviously in terrific form. Mitrovic, in particular, hasn’t stopped scoring since his arrival in January so there’s no doubt it’ll be tough. Last week I was sure we’d get battered and played off the park, basically a carbon copy of the 3-0 loss to Villa last week, however, the morale has picked up in our camp, the fans are slowly getting the feel-good factor back and albeit not by a convincing scoreline but we’re getting results. Obviously, there’s recent playoff history between the two clubs so Fulham will be eager to pay us back for that and look to ensure they at least get another shot at the playoffs, however obviously with Reading still not safe from the drop it’s sure to be an entertaining encounter.

My head says we’ll win 2-1, but my heart says 1-1.

Prediction: Despite the fact we’ve had issues with Reading over the past few years, I really think that this game will be different. If we were coming into this game on a similar run of form as them, then I’d be worried, but because we’re on a 19 game unbeaten run, I think that momentum, plus the knowledge of what happened to Cardiff on Friday night will give us that little bit more motivation to get the job done.

Fulham 2 – 0 Reading