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5 Things: Wolves (Away)

What to take away from a loss against the league leaders.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Far too easy

I think it is fair to say that not a single person was expecting anything other than a Wolves win but just how easy it was for Wolves to put Reading to the sword was massively disappointing for Reading fans to see. Wolves are quite clearly a high-quality side but it was made far too easy for them by a poor Reading display. When a team is facing a relegation scrap like the Royals are, they need to show fight, bottle and spirit and all of those were quite clearly lacking from their performance against Wolves and desperately needs to be present in their upcoming games.

Anssi Jaakkola

While normally the second-choice goalkeeper to Vito Mannone, the Finnish international has been given the nod for the past few games ahead of Mannone and started his third straight game between the sticks against Wolves. However, Jaakkola did not exactly cover himself in glory against the league leaders. His misjudged attempt to catch the ball leaving Matt Doherty with an open goal to nod home the first goal and he was also forced to backtrack after coming out to try and gather the ball in the build-up to Benik Afobe’s scoring Wolves’ second. The last thing Reading need right now is to be shooting themselves in the foot by gifting goals to their opposition but that is something that they seem to be doing consistently. Perhaps a return to Mannone is needed for the next game.

No shots on target

Reading had just the two shots in the entirety of the game against Wolves and neither of them were able to hit the target, with Sone Aluko being responsible for both of them. The first shot came in the third minute and was outside the box and easily blocked by the defence. The second and final shot came in the 93rd minute and ballooned harmlessly over the bar. This means that Reading went a full 90 minutes without having a single shot in general, let a lone a shot on target. Obviously it was always going to be an uphill battle for the Royals against a Wolves side which is expected to comfortably win the league but having 90 minutes between shots, and the shots you do have posing zero threat to goal, is just downright unacceptable.

One win in 17

To call Reading’s current run of form bad is an understatement. Shocking, appalling, dreadful or awful would be better adjectives to use. The Royals currently have just the solitary win in their last 17 league fixtures. Now if that is not relegation form then I don’t know what is. That statistic gets even worse when you learn that out of those 17 fixtures, seven of them have been draws. If only two or three of those seven draws had been wins for Reading then they would have earned four to six extra points and would be sitting in a much healthier position in the table. Obviously this is hypothetical but when you look at games such as the Nottingham Forest fixture where Reading led for the majority of the game, or the Cardiff game where the Welsh side equalised in stoppage time, there is evidence of a lack of ability to close out a win. When every point is vital, missed opportunities like those games could come back to bite Reading come the end of the season.

When asked about the run after the game, Reading manager Jaap Stam said “Hopefully we can see an end to it. We know the stats and are trying to get more out of games. Players’ heads are going down at times but we need to try and go forward, otherwise it’s difficult to get anything out of a game.”

Tough run-in

The worst thing for Reading at the moment is that there is no real let-up in terms of their upcoming fixtures. There are nine fixtures left in the season for the Royals as they bid to escape relegation and they are facing Norwich, QPR, Aston Villa, Preston, Fulham, Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich and Cardiff. Out of those nine games, Reading only face one of the other six potential relegation candidates in Sunderland and every other team that they face (barring Sheffield Wednesday) have at least ten more points than the Royals, meaning that virtually every single one of their remaining fixtures are going to be incredibly difficult.