reading-vs-spurs-dembele

5 keys to Reading vs Spurs

Reading vs Spurs

We’ve enjoyed our last two trips to Reading, both ending in 1-0 victories in the Premier League and FA Cup back in 2008. After successive 1-1 draws where we have been leading going in to the last few minutes, Andre Villas-Boas will be more than pleased if we could repeat those score lines this time out.

The Royals have only played twice so far in the Premier League this season and they’ve shown the opposition a couple of different looks. Some consistent patterns of play have emerged though and these will be key to the game.

So, what can we expect at the Madejski on Sunday?

Here are 5 keys to Reading vs Spurs.

1. The Reading Formation

Reading have shown two different formations so far this season. At home to Stoke they went 4-4-2 with Pavel Pogrebnyak partnered by Adam Le Fondre. We’ll take a look at these two in a minute, but when the Royals used this system, they pressed Stoke high up the pitch in order to create turnovers.

They were successful in doing this and enjoyed 52% possession in the match according to WhoScored.com.

reading-vs-spurs-d-v-stoke

Reading pressed Stoke to create turnovers up the field.

Against Chelsea, they dropped Adam Le Fondre in order to bring in another defensive midfielder in Jem Karacan, making the formation 4-1-4-1. They sat deeper, playing a much more counter-attacking game, but only had 28% possession this time.

reading-vs-spurs-d-v-chelsea

Reading defended deeper and counter-atacked against Chelsea.

With Reading at home, we can probably expect them to go 4-4-2 with Le Fondre coming back in and looking to press us high up the park as well.

2. Crosses from Ian Harte

Reading have been looking to move the ball wide and cross at every opportunity. They completed a decent 7 of 24 crosses against a big, physical Stoke side. Against Chelsea they were only able to complete 3 of 20 balls in to the box.

reading-vs-spurs-rfc-crosses

Reading have been looking to cross the ball.

Ian Harte has been the main threat from the left side and he’s attempted 15 crosses so far in Reading’s first two matches, but completed only 2 of them (13%). This is a low percentage, but we still have to be weary of the threat, especially with the height and power of Pogrebnyak in the middle. The Russian’s only goal in the Premier League, and Reading’s from open play, came from a swinging ball in from the right from Garath McCleary against Chelsea.

Chris Gunter also looks to get forward from the right full back position and he has faired better with less opportunities. He completed 2 of 3 crosses against Stoke and had one attempted cross against Chelsea.

The overlapping full backs need to be dealt with.

3. Long Balls and Danny Guthrie switching the play

Reading so far have played quite a few long balls for the amount of possession they have enjoyed.

Their match with Stoke saw them have 52% of the ball and attempt 55 long balls. What was interesting was that they were not very successful when played downfield due to Stoke’s big centre back pairing of Huth and Shawcross. They were effective at switching play from left to right though, mainly from the boot of Danny Guthrie.

reading-long-pass-v-stoke

Reading were effective at Switching the play from left to right.

Against Chelsea, Reading only had 28% of the ball and played 36 long balls this time, still a high number for this amount of possession. Chelsea did rush them in to a number of downfield clearances though.

reading-long-pass-v-chelsea

Chelsea rushed Reading in to a lot of downfield balls.

Reading were more effective in their passes up to Pogrebnyak in the inside right channel and were also looking to get the ball in behind left back Ashley Cole. Interestingly, it was when they switched the play with long balls from right to left that they were successful, again these were played by Danny Guthrie.

We need to watch out for these long balls up to Pavel Pogrebnyak and also Danny Guthrie looking to switch the play.

4. Pavel Pogrebnyak and Adam Le Fondre

Reading vs Spurs will most likely see the Royals go 4-4-2, rather than their more defensive 4-1-4-1 that they could utilise if this fixture was away from the Madejski. That means we’ll see the return of the Pavel Pogrebnyak and Adam Le Fondre partnership.

The two operate well in tandem, with Pogrebnyak acting as the hold up man and Le Fondre looking to get in behind. Both are able to get in to the box though and are goal-scoring threats.

If we look at Reading’s match with Stoke on Stats Zone we can see this layered approach in action. The big Russian receives the majority of passes to him across the field 10 yards outside the penalty area. Once he has won the ball and laid it off, he then looks to get in to the box to receive cut backs and crosses.

pogrebnyak-vs-stoke

Pavel Pogrebnyak passes recived vs Stoke.

Le Fondre on the other hand is looking to get in behind the defence, predominantly from passes down the left side of the formation. He receives the ball five times in the box and gets four shouts away as a result.

le-fondre-vs-stoke

Adam Le Fondre passes received vs Stoke.

Between them, Pogrebnyak and Le Fondre got 6 shots away and all were in the box, which brings me on to our final key for Reading vs Spurs.

5. Reading vs Spurs shots in the box

As we’ve seen, Reading get shots away in the box, Spurs on the other hand have been struggling to get in the 18-yard area.

So far this season, 67% of Spurs’ shots have been from outside the penalty area, whereas 65% of Reading’s have been inside.

In total, Spurs have attempted 51 strikes at the target this season, just 3 behind Man Utd’s Premier League leading 54 efforts. The Red Devils have taken 31 of these from inside the box, whereas we’ve only attempted 17 from within the opposition’s penalty area.

Emmanuel Adebayor being selected for his first start could be crucial in rectifying this problem. The Togolese international took 87% of his shots from within the area last season, just part of the reason behind his 17 Premier League goals.

Reading vs Spurs conclusion

It should be an exciting encounter, if we can take care of Pogrebnyak and Le Fondre, watch out for Guthrie switching the play and stop Ian Harte’s crosses, then we should be fine.

We’ve given away one-goal leads in the final few minutes of our previous two matches, hopefully this time we’ll hold on for our first win.

Reading vs Spurs match prediction: Reading 0 Spurs 1

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