Brentford FC V Reading FC, EFL Championship
Griffin Park, 3pm KO
It’s been an underwhelming start to the season from The Royals, with Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Bristol City proving a hard blow to take. The Royals dominated from the get-go and would’ve felt they deserved all three points, only for Jon Dadi Bodvarsson to fire wide from five yards out, before Bristol City centre half Aden Flint latched onto a scuffed Chris Gunter clearance and drilled home to net the winner in the dying stages.
Stam was furious with his side’s attacking profligacy in that game, but with no game in midweek and so a full week of rest, the Dutchman will have had total focus on this weekend’s clash against winless Brentford in the search of three points to get the season back on track.
Form (all comps) L/W/D/D/L
Right-back Henrik Dalsgaard was knocked unconscious in the final moments of Brentford's 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday and is unlikely to play against Reading. Nico Yennaris has been impressive in holding midfield but may be pushed back to right back to cover the Dane.
The Bees lost the services of three key players on deadline day, with Jota, Harlee Dean and Maxime Colin all departing Griffin Park to join Harry Redknapp at Birmingham City. It’s no doubt that these departures will make this a more appealing clash for The Royals, but Dean Smith’s side have strength in depth and have bolstered well.
With Jota departed and duo Alan Judge and Lasse Vibe still some way from a return, Brentford’s attacking hopes fall largely on Neal Maupay and Ollie Watkins, who have enjoyed eventful starts to life in London. The former had a tough afternoon against Sheffield Wednesday and spurned several key chances. Stam will be hoping he misfires again on Saturday.
Form (all comps): W/L/W/W/L
The Royals will be buoyed by the return of Jordan Obita and Callum Harriott, who both returned to full training in the week and are available for selection. Whilst Harriott may not make the bench, Stam could throw Obita straight back into the starting eleven for this trip after the defensive lapse that allowed Bristol City to score the winner on.
John Swift is another who is back available. The England under-21 international hobbled off through injury against Preston last month but is now fit to face his former club. A place on the bench looks most likely, with Stam likely to field the same three-man midfield of Joey van den Berg, Liam Kelly and Leandro Bacuna.
Yann Kermorgant is still injured and will be out for around a month, whilst Joseph Mendes also looks doubtful. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson will therefore keep his place up top as the Royals go in search of their second away win of the season.
Garath McCleary is now fully fit, with Roy Beerens also an option, but Stam could persist with the Barrow/Bodvarsson/Aluko front three. Both wingers looked lively on Saturday, with Sone Aluko completing the most key passes of any player in the division that afternoon. It’s surely only time before the attack clicks into form.
What do the stats say?
· Questions have been raised over the attacking potency of both of these sides. Only Neal Maupay has scored more than once for the hosts, and both of his goals came off the bench in the opening weeks of the season. For The Royals, no player has scored more than one goal, with last season’s top scorer Yann Kermorgant sidelined and summer signing Jon Dadi Bodvarsson still finding his feet. This is likely to be a close encounter.
· It’s fair to say The Royals don’t have the best of records against Brentford. The Bees have scored at least two goals in five of their last six games against Reading, finding themselves on the winning side on four occasions. Jaap Stam will be hoping to replicate the performance we saw away at Birmingham as he goes in search of all three points.
· The hosts are one of just two sides still searching for their first win in the Championship this season, with Bolton the only side below Dean Smith’s men in the table. Opposition managers have confessed that The Bees have deserved more from games this season, but they’ll need to start finishing their chances if they’re to start climbing the table.
What about the history?
Head to Head
Past 5 Meetings
25 April 2015: Reading 0-2 Brentford (EFL Championship)
29 August 2015: Brentford 1-3 Reading (EFL Championship)
28 December 2015: Reading 1-2 Brentford (EFL Championship)
27 September 2016: Brentford 4-1 Reading (EFL Championship)
14 February 2017: Reading 3-2 Brentford (EFL Championship)
Brentford 4-1 Reading, 27th September 2016, Griffin Park
Alright, it might not be an all-time classic, but the two sides didn’t play each other between 2002 and 2014, with Brentford lurking in the lower tiers of the Football League, so there’s not too many to choose from.
Just nine games into Jaap Stam’s reign as Reading manager, The Royals made the trip to Griffin Park optimistic of an away win, but a quickfire double before half time from Josh Clarke and Lasse Vibe handed Stam’s side an uphill struggle in the second half.
Maxime Colin scored to put the game seemingly beyond doubt in the 58th minute before Yann Kermorgant pulled one back from the spot after a foul in the box. Unfortunately, The Royals couldn’t complete the fightback and Scott Hogan netted The Bees’ fourth in the dying embers to secure the win for Dean Smith’s men.
How can I follow the game?
There will be audio coverage of the game on BBC Berkshire at 104.4FM. For Reading fans living abroad, you’ll be able to watch the full game on iFollow.
Brentford head into the game winless in seven and off the back of a demoralising defeat to Sheffield Wednesday. The side is severely lacking in confidence and struggling to get over the departures of Jota, Dean and Colin on deadline day. Saying that, Ryan Woods, Ollie Watkins and Neal Maupay are all dangerous players who could cause our back line problems on Saturday. This is a team in a false position based on early performances.
On the other hand, Stam’s side will be keen to avenge the somewhat undeserved 1-0 defeat at the hands of Bristol City on the weekend and with Sone Aluko, Dave Edwards and the rest of Stam’s summer signings now fully settled in the squad, this team might finally click into gear. 2-1 Reading.