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Scouting Report: Aston Villa (Home)

The Championship’s top-scorer is coming to town.

Aston Villa v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The Royals will have to deal with the free-scoring Tammy Abraham when Dean Smith’s Aston Villa travel to Berkshire. The Chelsea loanee has 19 goals in 23 Championship appearances so far this season, putting him top of the scoring charts, and José Gomes’ side will have a tough task trying to stop him adding to that total.

Abraham is massively helped by how keen his teammates are to use width and get crosses into the area. Only 24% of Villa’s play so far this campaign has come through the middle of the pitch, and they average 27 crosses into the box per game. The Reading full-backs could therefore be in a for a long afternoon at the Mad Stad this weekend.

One of Villa’s main strengths is finishing scoring chances, and that’s no surprise given the ability of some of their forwards. Tammy Abraham and Jonathan Kodjia are two of the most prolific goalscorers in the Championship in recent years, with a combined total of 85 goals between them in the last four years.

The Royals therefore cannot afford Villa’s players any time on the ball, otherwise they’ll be out of the game before half-time. Rather ironically, however, Villa’s main weakness is stopping their opposition creating chances (I guess that explains their 5-5 draw with Nottingham Forest earlier this season), so potentially this could be a glimmer of hope for the Royals. Creating chances has been an issue for the Royals for the last two years, but hopefully the arrival of Nélson Oliveira might bring some much-needed goals.

In Villa’s last outing, Dean Smith set his side up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, as he has done for a lot of his games in charge of the Villans. Former Royal Tommy Elphick will likely partner captain James Chester at the back. New signing Tyrone Mings could potentially make his debut after his deadline day move and, whether that be at centre back or at left back, he will be a quality acquisition for Smith’s side.

Tammy Abraham will have to rely on wingers Albert Adomah and Anwar El Ghazi for supply from the flanks, while hoping John McGinn and Conor Hourihane can create something through the middle.

Prediction time

I am going to go with 3-1 to Villa. After a disappointing draw against Bolton on Tuesday, Reading’s confidence is bound to have dropped. On top of that, Villa will be going into the game having just signed Mings and Tom Carroll, so they will be feeling very positive. I can’t see anything but a Reading defeat I’m afraid.