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Reading FC v Bolton Wanderers: 3 Things To Look Out For

Reading return to the Madejski to face Bolton Wanderers, with memories of a famous 7-1 win in January still fresh in the memory. Bucks Royal works through the stats to see what fans should expect to see play out.

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1) Will Simon Cox return to the team?

Simon Cox has been one of Reading's best players this season, and is currently top scorer with seven goals so far. Five of those goals have come at home, with his only assist of the campaign coming in the home clash against Wolves. But, in tricky games away from the Madejski, the former Forest man has been dropped so that another midfielder can be brought into the centre of the park to stop Reading from being overrun. That trend was continued last weekend at Norwich, when Nigel Adkins opted for Norwood, Williams and Obita in the middle, with Cox dropping to the bench. Will Nigel go for a more attacking set-up against Bolton, handing a recall to the summer signing?

2) It could be an end-to-end game, but don't expect goals.

It's easy to dismiss that question out of hand, but there are some stats behind it. One of Reading's main failings this season has been scoring away from home - in fact, we've only done it eight times so far (four from open play, four from set pieces). However, the same is even more true of visitors Bolton Wanderers, who have managed a paltry five goals this campaign whilst on the road. That's quite an odd statistic when you consider how many chances Bolton create in their away games - 13.6 shots per match is a very respectable total, and makes them the fifth best side in the league in that regard. Although they create a lot of chances on the road, they can be of low quality - only 3.6 goals per away game are on target for the Trotters. When you contrast that with Reading's attacking stats for this season, we manage 14.1 shots per home game, with 4 of those shots being on target.

In short, both teams should be able to make chances on the day - the stats suggest that neither manager should worry on that front. But. unless Reading and Bolton buck the trend and put a lot of them on target, the match could still be pretty low-scoring.

3) Mills and Spearing are the ones to watch.

I was torn between which of these two players to pick out as potential men to watch for Bolton, so I decided to go for both. If Bolton score against Reading, chances are that it'll be from a set piece; of their five goals on the road so far this season, four of those have come from dead ball scenarios. Taking those dead balls? Jay Spearing who, with two assists, is Bolton's top provider away from the Macron (it'll always be the Reebok to me). And who else to be putting those chances away, but Matt Mills, who has scored twice on the road for the Trotters thus far. As it happens, Bolton's only away win this campaign was a 1-0 victory at Birmingham City - Matt Mills heading in from a Jay Spearing corner.

It's not just the goal-scoring that this pair should be watched on - if Reading are to control the game, Jay Spearing's 84% pass completion rate is an obstacle to be tackled, with 2.1 key passes per game. At the other end, Matt Mills averages five aerial duels won each match, edging out Alex Pearce on 4.8.

All stats come courtesy of WhoScored.com