Congratulations to Matt Miazga, who you guys have voted as your TTE Player of the Month for March. The American centre half has certainly impressed since arriving on loan from Chelsea, having played every minute for which he’s been available.
In total, 35% of you voted for Miazga, ahead of Emiliano Martinez (30%), Modou Barrow (24%), Yakou Meite (8%) and Liam Moore (3%). He joins Andy Yiadom, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Anssi Jaakkola, Andy Rinomhota and Martinez in picking up a TTE player of the month gong this season.
Why is Miazga so important for Reading?
When replacing the outgoing Tiago Ilori in January, Jose Gomes needed a defender capable of both shoring the team up defensively and playing out from the back to suit Reading’s new possession style. In Matt Miazga, we’ve got the perfect candidate.
He’s commanding in the air, as shown by the fact that he wins more aerial challenges than anyone else in the Reading squad to have played at least twice this season. His average of 4.9 edges Liam Moore’s 4.8, and is some way ahead of the commanding John O’Shea (3.9) and Yakou Meite (3.7).
For a breakdown of how important that dominance has been in specific matches, check out this graphic on Twitter from TTE writer Pannas and Nutmegs:
Matt Miazga Aerial Performance:— PannasandNutmegs (@PannasNutmegs) April 4, 2019
I've attempted to visualise the positive impact Miazga has had since his arrival at the Madejski in this thread.
The aerial bombardment from Rotherham is clearly contrasted by the type of pressure sustained by Leeds.#ReadingFC pic.twitter.com/dWhx9j6tTP
Miazga can also use the ball well when he’s got it to feet. He plays more passes than anyone else - his 52.3 per game average is comfortably higher than Liam Moore (47.1) and John Swift (45.7).
Stylistically, he’s not too conservative in possession. He doesn’t have a particularly high pass completion rate, as 11 current squad members beat his average rate of 77.4%. That’s explained to a large extent by how many long balls he plays - no outfielder records more than his 4.2 per game. In fact, centre-back partner Moore plays only 2.3 per game.
Interestingly, Miazga seems to be at his most adventurous in his passing when he plays better sides:
Matt Miazga Passes to Final Third Performance:— PannasandNutmegs (@PannasNutmegs) April 4, 2019
Despite being on the receiving end of heavy defeats to both Leeds and Sheffield United, it is worth noting that Miazga recorded a high number of passes to the final third. pic.twitter.com/02JIDws9Rb
Looking to the future
Will Reading be able to keep Miazga? I’m sure the club would jump at the opportunity if it arises - and if we stay up - but getting him back from Chelsea on either a permanent or loan deal would be tricky.
He’s formed a great partnership with Liam Moore and I’d love for that to continue at Reading. But in the meantime, of course, there’s the small matter of staying in the Championship...