Reading Prem Watch
2006/07 PLD:7 W:4 D:1 L2 PTS 13 - 7th
2007/08 PLD:7 W:2 D:1 L4 PTS 7 - 16th
2012/13 PLD:7 W:0 D:3 L:4 PTS: 3 - 19th
Reading (4-5-1) McCarthy, Cummings, Mariappa, Gorkss, Shorey, Kebe Leigertwood, Guthrie (Roberts), Karacan (McCleary), McAnuff, Pogrebnyak (Le Fondre)
Reading's stop start season took them to Anfield to take on a Liverpool side who were slowly improving after their worst start in over 50 years. Reading went into the game as one of three clubs without a win in the league but opted for the 4-5-1 system that had worked well against Chelsea. Noel Hunt couldn't shake off a knock and Jay Tabb didn't make the squad as Mikele Leigertwood and Danny Guthrie came in. The hosts boasted three teenagers in their starting XI with Andre Wisdom keeping his place at right back and Raheem Sterling and Suso starting on the flanks.
Reading looked to start the game on the front foot but some early attacks from Shaun Cummings and Jimmy Kebe couldn't create much. It took a while for Liverpool to find their feet but once they had they really dominated. On the right Cummings had his hands full with the lively Sterling a constant threat but it was through the middle where Liverpool were looking to exploit. The Reading defence were struggling to keep track of Luis Suarez as he dropped off and with Joe Allen an Steven Gerrard happy to sit, Nuri Sahin began to grow into things. Reading though were keeping the home side relatively quiet. Suarez had a chip go over and another fizz past the post but with both McCarthy looked to have the covered.
Things changed after an innocuous 50/50 in midfield between Jem Karacan and Liverpool's skipper Gerrard. Karacan appeared to go over his ankle and after the problems he's had with it over the summer he was forced off. Garath McCleary came on wih Jobi McAnuff moving into the middle but with the little Turk's energy suddenly missing Liverpool were able to exploit a bit of extra time on the ball. Luis Suarez found a bit of space for himself and put a beautiful ball through for Sterling. The teenager still had a lot to do but he had the strength and composure to not only keep Cummings at bay but also to slot the ball in past McCarthy. It was a classy finish and his first for Liverpool. At 17 he's now second only to Michael Owen as the club's youngest ever scorer.
Oddly the goal seemed to even the game out a little. Reading were able to get a toehold in the game but were limited to shots from range with Mikele Leigertwood guilty of wasting a couple of half chances.
The second half continued in much the same vein. Reading were struggling to keep the ball and that was typified when Alex McCarthy's clearance was hit straight at Luis Suarez but the big keeper redeemed himself with a good save from the Uruguayan. It looked like a matter of time before Liverpool doubled their lead but out of nowhere Reading had their best chance of the game. The substitute McCleary latched on to a fantastic ball over the top but could only poke his shot at Brad Jones. Liverpool responded by withdrawing Nuri Sahin for new England international Jonjo Shelvey and Jobi McAnuff suddenly found some space that had been missing previously. His jinking run and curling shot had Jones at full stretch again whilst at the other end Shelvey should have done a lot better after a great cross from Suarez. Liverpool began to press more and more and McCarthy made sharp saves from Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson but as the game opened up Liverpool should have been out of sight but Suarez's finishing again let him down.
With Jason Roberts and Adam Le Fondre thrown on at the end Reading began to get back into it but Jones was never really tested and in the end they were resorting to set pieces but Nicky Shorey's delivery wasn't up to scratch.
Another game then for Reading without a win which really puts the pressure on for the next handful of home games which have now become must win. Brian McDermott will take the positives out of the game as he always does, and to be fair despite their pressure Liverpool didn't really test McCarthy much but it's hard to see where the win's coming from at the moment.