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Tactics Review: Royal Diamond Brings Another Three Points

Despite a few forced alterations, Reading showed versatility and attacking intent to sweep aside Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday afternoon.

Reading v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet Championship - Madejski Stadium Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images

Rafael; Richards, Moore, Holmes, Yiadom; McIntyre, Laurent, Semedo, Olise; Joao, Puscas.

Reading reshuffled their side in the absence of Michael Morrison, moving Tom Holmes to centre back and Tom McIntyre to defensive midfield. This surprisingly did not hinder the Royals in attack, with TMac proving to be just as adept at breaking up the play and passing it to teammates (from whatever range he liked) as Josh Laurent has been in recent weeks, and Laurent himself being pushed forwards onto the left - where his driving runs always help his side push forwards (not to mention his movement behind the lines off the ball).

Laurent and McIntyre were even able to switch, Laurent dropping in when McIntyre wanted to take the ball forwards. The former Shrewsbury man was also prone to dropping into the left-back position in order to allow Richards forwards - this mainly occurring in the second half - examples of just how big a role he plays in this side.

Added to this, on the other flank Alfa Semedo was a lot wider, his link-up play and ball retention skills hugely improved - not being isolated and having Andy Yiadom, Michael Olise and George Puscas all around him at times. Olise again enjoyed drifting between the two flanks, creating from different areas and dictating the game by finding spaces in between the lines. Puscas too was absolutely fantastic on the ball once again, Reading’s attacking options looking far improved with two men up top.

The theme of high pressure continued during Saturday afternoon’s game. After Omar Richards’ impressive pressing ‘assist’ against Blackburn, centre back Holmes pushed back Josh Windass from the halfway line, making sure not to commit a challenge, and placing the Sheffield Wednesday under pressure - with the rest of the Royals’ men cutting off Windass’ options. Holmes cleanly won the ball so, of course, Wednesday came out of the situation with a free kick.

At the beginning of the second period, Semedo moved over to the left to help overload this wing. This opened up space for Yiadom on the right wing, scoring and assisting to seal the three points for the Royals - massively in part to the quick football played in the middle of the park to move the ball from one wing to another, Olise executing the final balls with precision every time (this occurring in the first period too, but from right to left).