Talking Tactics | Reading v Swansea City

27th December 2022
First team
Huddersfield away Matt Grimes

Swansea City return to league action with a trip to Reading on Tuesday, and WhoScored.com have previewed the action. Here, they take a look at what to expect from the Royals, the key battle and a key stat.

What to expect from Reading

Reading manager Paul Ince

Reading have been one of the more inconsistent sides in the Championship of late, winning two and drawing one of their last seven in the division.

Nevertheless, wins either side of the World Cup break has eased concerns with the Royals' home form proving vital in keeping them in the play-off mix.

Of the 32 points Reading have earned this season, 22 have come at home, that the fourth-best return in England's second tier at the time of writing. That being said, there has been a slight wobble at the Select Car Leasing Stadium of late, with Reading failing to win three of their last five in Berkshire.

Paul Ince will look to rally the troops ahead of Tuesday's welcome of Swansea, with the Royals head coach overseeing a 3-2 defeat at Birmingham last time out. That said, Ince is unlikely to make sweeping changes to his side, with the Reading boss, like so many others in the division, favouring a three-man defence.

It's a system that helps bring out the best in Tom Ince, boss Paul's son, with the 30-year-old routinely deployed through the middle to maximise a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'key passes'. Ince is making more key passes per game (1.8) than any other Reading player, and has earned a better WhoScored.com rating (7.05) than any other player in the Royals squad.

With five goals and three assists to his name - returns no one in this Reading side can better - it's clear that keeping Ince quiet is important for opponents.

That said, even if Swansea are able to minimise Ince's influence, the Royals have other routes to goal. Only Millwall (15) have scored more set-piece goals than Reading (11) in the Championship this season, reinforcing a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'attacking set-pieces' so if Swansea do commit fouls in dangerous positions, then Tuesday's opponents have the personnel to capitalise upon free-kicks they do win.

Conversely, as effective as Reading may be going forward, they haven't been as defensively sound as they would like this season. Only Hull (40), Blackpool and Wigan (both 34) have conceded more goals than the Royals (33), so it's no surprise that four of their five statistically calculated WhoScored.com weaknesses are defensive.

Key battle

Matt Grimes Norwich

Reading have the lowest possession average (41.1%) in the Championship this season, so even though they'll be at home, Swansea should see the lion's share of the ball.

The Swans have returned a possession average of 63.9%, that the highest in the division, with captain Matt Grimes key.

Indeed, Grimes is making more passes per game (97.8) than any other player in England's second tier, while only two players - Swansea team-mates Joel Latibeaudiere and Harry Darling - have a pass success rate better than the Swans' skipper (91.5%).

In addition, no Swansea player is making more tackles per game than Grimes (1.4) this season, and his hard work off the ball will be just as key as his solid distribution given he'll likely be up against Tom Ince.

As mentioned, Ince is making more key passes per game (1.8) than any other player for Reading, so that battle in the middle of the part has the potential to be decisive in the final analysis.

Key stat

Select car leasing stadium

Reading may have one of the best home records in the Championship this season, yet Swansea have a decent record at the Royals.

The Swans are unbeaten on their last nine trips to the Royals, winning six, and while they are on a seven-game winless run, they will hope to continue their good record in Berkshire and end that streak.

Off