Reading have quite an eventful history against Swansea, all beginning with the infamous 2010/11 play-off final, we all remember it, though none of us want to. I myself have a personal link with Swansea as I live very close to the city in South Wales. Being surrounded by mostly Swansea fans for most of my life, you can imagine my agony after that Wembley defeat.
So when we won promotion the season after, I, and most Royals fans, were hoping for some revenge, which didn't come. We didn't lose to them again however, playing out a 2-2 and a 0-0 draw. Since then the only time we have faced the Swans has been in pre-season games as we are only a straight drive down the M4 from them. Now that the Carabao Cup third round draw has pitted us against the South Wales side, I have been fairly excited, especially since it is a home tie in favour of the Royals. After the draw was announced I spoke to a few of my Swansea fan friends to ask how they felt about the match.
Lack Of Goals Frustrating Fans
Swansea's start to the Premier League season hasn't been a bad one, but it also hasn't been a brilliant one. The Swans have picked up five points from five games, however they have only managed to score in one of those five, earning a 2-0 over the shoddy Crystal Palace. So their attack is not their strong suit so far.
That is not to say, however, that there is not potential in their attack, the loan signing of Chelsea and England youngster Tammy Abraham looked to be a steal as the 19-year-old striker bagged 23 goals in 41 appearances for Bristol City last season, two of which came against Reading. But Abraham has only managed to score once for Swansea so far this season.
Also, a big signing was the deadline day deal for their former man Wilfried Bony, who had a very successful spell with the Swans from 2013-15 before moving to Manchester City, where the Ivory Coast international failed to have any impact. With those two signings plus the loan deal for Renato Sanches from Bayern Munich, who is yet to find his feet in the Premier League, Swansea fans had high hopes going into the season. That was despite the losses of top scorer Fernando Llorente and star man Gylfi Sigurdsson. However the lack of goals this season has frustrated many fans, with the side yet to score a goal at the Liberty Stadium.
Many of the fans I spoke to chalked this up to a tough run of games to start the season, with Swansea travelling to Southampton and Spurs while welcoming Manchester United and Newcastle to the Liberty. One fan in particular noted that the resilient defensive performance against Tottenham at Wembley on the weekend should be how Paul Clement's side go into every match against a top side, while attacking the weaker teams as they did at Selhurst Park. The one outlier of this however was the 1-0 home defeat against Premier League newcomers Newcastle.
Swansea failed to dominate most of the match as Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles snatched the win with 15 minutes to go. One weakness Newcastle exploited at the Liberty was Swansea's switch to zonal marking at corner kicks. Zonal marking is known to be very difficult tactic for defenders to adapt to, with top teams such as Liverpool failing to solidify the tactic.
One similar theme among many of the fans I spoke to is that they are all well aware of the danger Reading pose. Reading lost their first home game since January two weeks ago against Bristol City, with the Royals having the majority of the chances but failing to convert, a very similar theme to Swansea's season. There is little doubt that Swansea will be the more attacking team when the two meet, but with the pace in Jaap Stam's side, there will more than likely be plenty of threat from Reading on the counter attack.
One Reading player with plenty of pace is one Modou Barrow, who Reading signed from the Welsh side in the summer. Barrow's place in the team is a doubt however, with the winger being absent from the side which faced Brentford on the weekend. But needless to say if the Gambian does start, he will be itching to prove a point against his old side who sent him out on loan numerous times before he arrived at the Madejski. Swans fans will be well aware of everything about Mo Barrow, seeing his blistering pace in each game when he started in the Premier League. One part of me, as I would imagine resides in many Reading fans, would have loved it if Swansea hadn’t sold Gylfi Sigurdsson, a return to the Madejski for him would have been great to see with most, if not all Royals still holding the Icelandic magician in high regard.
Swans Fans Want Change
The bottom line for many Swansea fans is that they will be expecting a solid performance, but more than anything else they want to see goals, and playing against a Championship side in the Carabao Cup sounds like the perfect opportunity for that. However they are well aware that Reading are not the easiest Championship side to score against, especially at the Madjeski. They are hoping to see a varied starting XI to the ones seen this season, with £11 million signing Roque Mesa hoping for his third Swansea start, along with goalkeeper Nordfeldt and Bony will also be hoping for his first piece of real action since their arrivals.
So, we have two teams both lacking goals and proving to be solid at preventing goals, it seems as though this one might be destined for 0-0 after 90 minutes, but who knows? Maybe we could see a Modou Barrow masterclass against his former side, or perhaps Tammy Abraham will prove that Championship sides are his expertise.