A low-scoring game could be in store at the Madejski on Saturday as Reading take on Millwall, with both teams averaging just 1.3 goals per game and 1.1 goals per game respectively.
The Lions are very poor away from home, with four losses in their six away fixtures this season, and they have only scored three times on their travels so far this campaign. They will nonetheless be looking to capitalise on Reading’s poor home form and record their first away win of the season.
Millwall are stronger at creating scoring chances than their league position (20th) would suggest, averaging 12.6 shots per game - the 12th highest in the division. However, their finishing is very poor as they’ve managed just 13 goals all season. That’s explained by their low rate of shots on target per game - 3.4 being the fifth worst in the league.
One way they could hurt Reading is through set pieces as only one team in the Championship (Aston Villa, 7) have scored more goals from dead balls than Millwall (6). A key player in that is Jake Cooper who returns to his old stomping ground in a rich vein of form. The centre half has two goals and three assists in 2018/19, making him Millwall’s joint biggest contributor of goals, so Reading will need to be wary of him from set pieces.
It would be smart of the Royals to try to run at the Millwall defence as much as possible. The Lions give away fouls fairly frequently (12.1 per game), so we may find luck from using pacey players like Modou Barrow and Josh Sims.
What team will Millwall put out?
It is more than likely that Neil Harris will set his side up in a 4-4-2 formation. This gives a fairly balanced set-up and, if played correctly, won’t leave them short of numbers in any area of the pitch.
Former Manchester United youngster Ben Amos will start between the sticks after his summer loan move from Bolton, and he will be protected by Mahlon Romeo, Shaun Hutchinson, Jake Cooper and James Meredith. The Royals’ attacking players will need to put pressure on this back line as all four are relatively weak at passing, so could buckle if they are pressurised.
Sitting in front of them will be Jed Wallace, Ryan Leonard, Shaun Williams and Shane Ferguson, all of whom like to take shots from range, so the Royals will need to prevent that as much as possible. Tom Elliott and Lee Gregory will lead the line for the Lions.
How will the match unfold?
In my opinion, the game will end 1-1 as I can’t see either team scoring more than a solitary goal. We could be massively exposed at set-pieces, especially with the aerial threat of former Royal Jake Cooper. The Royals will need to try to expose the lack of pace of the Lions’ centre backs if they wish to get anything from this game.
Stats taken from WhoScored.