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Brentford v Reading: 3 Things to Look Out For

Twelve years after the match which changed the club's history, Reading are back at Griffin Park. Will Jones tell us three things to look out for at today's match.

Justin Setterfield

1) Brentford’s error prone defence

Reading’s three goals in five away games is not a great return. In fact only struggling Blackpool, Bolton and Wigan have a worse record than the Royals. If Reading are to challenge the top six then this must improve.

At Griffin Park they will come up against a defence which on a bad day can really struggle. This season Brentford have already conceded three at home to Norwich, four away to Middlesbrough, and six against a Jamie Cureton inspired Dagenham & Redbridge.

According to Squawka, Brentford’s defence has also made more defensive errors than any other team in the league. Twelfth placed Leeds are the only team in the top half that the Bees have kept a clean sheet against. If Reading fail to score on the road again, then that statistic may stay true with Reading slipping to the bottom half of the table.

2) Will Mark Warburton recall Alex Pritchard?

In Brentford’s last game against Watford, Mark Warburton brought in Toumani Diagouraga for the previously ever present Alex Pritchard. After the game, Warburton said he had rested the Tottenham loanee, mindful that his recent England U21 call up means he won’t get a fortnight’s rest after today’s game like most of his teammates.

Diagouraga’s first start of this campaign saw Brentford move to a 4-2-3-1 formation. For most of the season the Bees have lined up 4-1-4-1 with Jonathan Douglas as the lone holding midfielder.

A return of Pritchard therefore would be an attacking move by Warburton. Two attacking central midfielders would not only offer more support to lone striker Andre Gray, but also mean Brentford have more players who could close down Reading’s playmaker Oliver Norwood.

Warburton highlighted Norwood’s infuence in his pre-match interview so the Burnley born midfielder may find time and space hard to come by.

3) Brentford’s wandering wingers

It’s fair to say Reading have struggled against wingers this season. Brentford will be hoping that their summer signings Moses Odubajo and José Ignacio Peleteiro Ramallo (otherwise known as Jota) are added to the list of wide men who have caused havoc to the Royals’ leaky defence.

As the graphic below, for Odubajo against Leeds shows, Brentford’s wingers will often swap flanks and cut inside.

Odubajo heat map

Against Watford’s midfield diamond though, both Odubajo and Jota stuck to their respective wings. Such a tactic by Wolves was highly effective when Reading changed to a diamond formation in last Sunday’s entertaining 3 all draw.

The opening period of the second half in that game was another example of how Reading often look vulnerable to the counter attack.  In Odubajo and Jota, Brentford have two players who thrive on the break so it may be in Reading’s interests for a slow paced game.