1) Away discomforts
Saturday's 2-1 win over Norwich, amongst other things, highlighted just poor Reading's away form has been this season. So far this campaign, the Royals have only managed two wins away from the Madejski, with the other victory coming in Middlesbrough at the tail end of August courtesy of a Simon Cox strike. Overall, the away record is abysmal - in addition to those two victories, Reading have lost six times and drawn twice on the road, scoring just eight goals in the process.
Plus, when you break down those eight goals, the stats become even more worrying. Five of those strikes come from defenders and, not to be too harsh on young Jake Cooper, but we really shouldn't be in a position where his double makes him joint-top away scorer this far into the season. Reading's strikers really need to start putting the ball in the net away from home, not to mention the midfielders, none of whom have scored on the road this campaign.
In contrast to that, Gary Hooper's goal on Saturday was the nineteenth that Reading have conceded on their travels so far this season. That record of course includes batterings at Nottingham Forest, Brentford and Bournemouth - the ten goals in those games make up more than half of the total conceded.
In short, if Reading are to turn this season around, they need to up their game away from the Madejski.
2) Murray not scoring
On the topic of people not scoring, the trip to Norwich was Glenn Murray's fourth game in a row without finding the net, his last goal coming in the 3-1 defeat to Blackburn Rovers. Going into December, five goals in the season isn't a terrible return, but we were hoping for more from the last minute summer signing. That's not to criticise the Palace loanee though - he's barely had any chances to score from this season, and I can't remember him having any on Saturday. Indeed, WhoScored say that he averages a whopping 3.2 shots per game. With Reading needing to stick the ball in the net more often, they could do a lot worse than giving Murray some better service. Having Garath McCleary, last season's top assist maker, returning to the side after several months out will do an awful lot of good.
3) Are things really that bad?
With Reading 19 games into the season, we've amassed 24 points and sit on a goal difference of -5, resulting in a table position of 14th; in other words so far, so thoroughly average. Interestingly, it's pretty identical to what was expected of the side going into the season. The incessantly quoted 'two wins in twelve' stat going into the Norwich game seems bleak on paper, but it's the kind of poor form that every mid-table side goes through in a season and, if it results in you dipping to around 15th in the table, it's really not as terrible as some would make out. Also, a quick glance down the table shows you how bad things really can get. As things stand, Reading find themselves above recently relegated Fulham, whereas Wigan and Brighton, two sides that beat Reading to Playoff places last season, currently occupy two relegation places. Perspective is a wonderful thing.
4) Now is Samuel's time.
I've been far from impressed with Pavel Pogrebnyak this season, with the Big Russian earning some of our lowest individual match ratings so far. The desire he showed last campaign to fight his way back into the team seems to be drying up, but his status as one of the few out-and-out strikers that Reading have in the squad earns him a spot on the bench each week. Now, having picked up an injury that is likely to keep him out for several weeks, a vacancy has arisen in the matchday squad. It's pretty surprising that Dominic Samuel, having made his Reading debut at Sunderland a few seasons ago, hasn't kicked on since then. He clearly has the talent, as shown in this cracking strike against Manchester City's youth side. We could do a lot worse than giving him a run-out on Saturday against Bolton.
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5) Winter is Coming...
As previous seasons have shown, the Christmas period can be crucial to deciding where a team will end up come May. We're now less than a month away from the January transfer window, and have five more games to go of this calendar year. Starting with Bolton at home this weekend, Reading then have a trip to Birmingham City, before Watford at home, Brighton away on Boxing Day and a visit from Norwich City to round out 2014. That run of games could make or break Reading's season, with all of them being winnable matches, although Watford (currently in 7th, form a tricky test for Nigel Adkins' men). Pick up 8-10 points and move up a few places, and Reading have real momentum going into the New Year. Anything less than 6, and the Royals will start to slide back down the table.