Market Movers – A Boost For Reading

Market Movers – A Boost For Reading

Reading on the rise

Reading delivered a statement of intent in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Cardiff with several new signings impressing, yet they remain relegation favourites with most markets.

Here’s why Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) believes the Royals deserve more respect.

Better goalkeeper

In last week’s 2-1 loss at Hull, Joao Virginia looked error-prone; he let an effort sneak inside his near-post on his first senior appearance.

In Rafael Cabral, though, the Royals have a 29-year-old goalkeeper who is inevitably more reliable in the men’s game and his assurance showed last time out.

Solid back-three

When Michael Morrison is asked to spend long periods on the ball, play a high line and defend wide areas, he can struggle.

Ask him to win aerial duels and provide calm leadership qualities, though and he can be a real asset.

Jose Gomes switched to a 3-5-2 formation and placed ‘Morro’ at the heart of the back-three, which maximized his main skillset an minimized his weaknesses.

Morrison was protected ably either side by Matt Miazga, who returned on loan from Chelsea this summer and Liam Moore, who himself was very vocal.

Reading have kept eight clean sheets in 24 under Gomes’ watch and, given some defensive stability this year, that is an area where we can expect them to excel.

Yiadom stars

Andy Yiadom was arguably the Royals’ most consistent performer last season – at least in the sense that he turned up during Paul Clement’s time in charge.

The former Barnet man produced several driving runs from right wing-back against Cardiff, one of which saw him win the penalty that Yakou Meite saw saved.

Carry on in this vein and Yiadom could soon be considered one of the best right-backs in the Championship.

Richards resurgence

Omar Richards struggled at times last season and saw his place at left-back taken by Tyler Blackett, who gradually improved defensively and looked set to keep the academy graduate out.

However, it has become clear that Gomes sees a place for Richards in this side as a left wing-back and he certainly repaid the Portuguese boss’ faith with his display last Sunday.

Although defending is not among the 21-year-old’s main strength, the insurance of playing as a wing-back gives him that bit more freedom which appears to suit his game.

Pele balance

After the opening day 3-1 home loss to Sheffield Wednesday, there were major question marks about the balance of this Reading side.

Andy Rinomhota – loved last season for his tenacity, determination and driving forward runs – played at the base of the midfield, a role that meant either he had to play within himself, or the defence had no stable protection.

That issue has been solved entirely by the arrival of Pele, who gained Championship experience in his loan spell at Nottingham Forest last term.

Pele has a certain presence about him, he provides physicality and is composed in possession; he appears to provide the balance that allows other midfielders to express themselves.

Ejaria and Swift shine

Ovie Ejaria showed tactical discipline at times on Sunday as well as a decent work ethic, but what impressed most was his quick feet in tight areas.

Ejaria’s ability will be huge in terms of Reading winning midfield battles this season; it means when opponents press to force play in a certain way, the Royals have a midfielder who can get out of trouble and find space in a different area, meaning it is they who dictate terms.

Pele and Ejaria’s work frees up John Swift to make brave runs into wide areas, where he can work his creative magic and pose a counter-attacking threat, which was how he bagged the team’s final goal last time out.

Predatory Puscas

Reading will feel they can get a little bit more out of Lucas Joao; the Portuguese striker did not quite make the contact he hoped for with one or two of his efforts last time out.

There are however, already strong signs of his attacking partnership with George Puscas coming to fruition, with the duo displaying good movement.

Puscas certainly enjoyed a wonderful home debut; the Romanian cut inside to finish the opener against Cardiff, then tapped home Swift’s cross at the near post and could have had a hat-trick when one-on-one in the second half but dinked narrowly wide.

The top half price

Reading are currently 5/2 with SkyBet to achieve a top half finish this season; that is a bigger price than the 7/4 we could have got on them before the season kicked off.

Considering that their squad has improved immeasurably since day one due to the additions of Rafael, Puscas, Pele and Ejaria, we should think ourselves lucky to have that price available.

On this evidence, the Royals will not be relegation favourites for too much longer.