Griffin Park is the venue as Reading take on Brentford in their Sky Bet Championship fixture on Saturday, and the Royals will have to deal with plenty of threats from the Bees if they are to come away with a win. We’ve had a closer look at the main strengths and weaknesses in Dean Smith’s side to see what Royals fans should expect on the day.
The Bees are heading into the game after a positive performance at the Emirates in the Carabao Cup, a game in which they played their usual style: attempting to retain possession where possible. That involves a lots of short passes and defence-splitting through-balls, but also getting the ball wide to stretch the play and put crosses in.
An average possession of 55.3% so far this season shows how important keeping the ball is for the Bees, making it key for the Royals to be patient and not get dragged out of shape. Brentford are also strong at defending set-pieces, so the Royals will need to find a different route to goal if they wish to walk away with the three points.
So how are the Royals going to break down the Bees? Well, one of Brentford’s defensive weaknesses is their susceptibility to the counter attack, so Reading could use the pace of Josh Sims and Modou Barrow to catch them on the break.
Dean Smith’s side are also weak whilst dealing with balls in the air, meaning Jon Dadi Bodvarsson could profit from Brentford’s aerial problems. If both wingers can get the beating of their opposing full-backs then there should be plenty of chances for the Royals forwards to take advantage of.
Dean Smith likes to be consistent when picking his XI, and normally uses the 4-2-3-1 formation. This set-up provides plenty of attacking threat with the four offensive players, but also stability in front of the defence with the two centre midfielders. Smith uses two tricky wingers in Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma, with the passing ability of Romaine Sawyers through the middle, all spearheaded by the league top-scorer Neal Maupay.
Daniel Bentley will undoubtedly keep his place in goal, with Barbet, Mepham, Konsa and Dalsgaard in front of him. Josh McEachran and Lewis Macleod will sit in front of them, and the previously mentioned front four leading the line.
The threat of the two wide players should be the most worrying for the Royals, especially if the low on form Chris Gunter is recalled to the side. Watkins would cause Gunter all sorts of problems down the wing and the Welsh right-back could be massively exposed.
I think Brentford will dominate possession and will make the Royals work hard, but Reading will leave Griffin Park with the three points after a 2-1 victory.