Managerless Reading welcome Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United in Saturday’s evening game, with the Royals looking for a fresh start after the departure of Paul Clement. The former gaffer was let go by the club on Thursday morning, just hours after Nigel Howe returned to his old position as CEO.
The Royals will however need to be solid defensively if they’re to come away with anything from the game. The Blades are the fifth highest-scoring team in the Championship this season, having scored 32 goals, with former Royal loanee Billy Sharp leading the way with 10 strikes.
What are Sheffield United’s strengths?
In total, 63% of United’s goals so far this season have come from open play, with 19% from set-pieces, so they have the capability to hurt Reading in different ways. From open play, Chris Wilder’s side are most likely to exploit their left-hand side, with 41% of their play coming down that side this campaign. That means Andy Yiadom could be in for a busy evening at the Mad Stad.
The Blades will also look to keep hold of the ball as much as possible, with former Royal Oliver Norwood being their main man in the heart of their midfield. United average 52.4% possession so far this campaign, and 79% of their passes are short passes. The Royals will therefore have to soak up a lot of pressure if they’re to come away with the win.
What about weaknesses?
Aerial duels are the main weak point for Chris Wilder’s men, and the Royals will need to exploit that on Saturday night. A quarter of the goals conceded by the Blades this season have been from set-pieces, so this is a massive weakness which the Royals will be hoping to make the most of.
United are also bad at avoiding offside traps, with their forwards often being too eager and going too early. If the Royals defensive line can remain structured and organised, we shouldn’t be caught out by the ball over the top too often. However, we’ll have to be careful to ensure Billy Sharp and co don’t get in-behind.
How will the game go?
Performances have been more positive in recent weeks, but I can’t see the Royals getting anything more than a draw in this game, and I’m not even too positive about that. Sheffield United are a very good side and they score plenty of goals, and I cannot see the Royals being able to repel that attacking threat
I am going to go with 2-1 to the Blades. Could the sacking of Paul Clement bring new confidence to the players? Hmm, I’m not too confident.