Reading in the Championship

Reading have returned to the Championship after just one season in the Premier League and they will be hoping to return under Nigel Adkins.
Reading
Adkins is a good Championship manager and I expect him to put together a side that will challenge for promotion and I personally feel that Reading could be the most likely of all the relegated teams to get back into the Premier League at the first time of asking. The former Southampton manager does obviously have a promotion under his belt and this will stand him and the players in good stead as they already know what the Championship is about. It may have been an unsuccessful season in the Premier League but I do not think the club are in a bad position and relegation is not a disaster, but the most worrying thing for the fans is the fact that they did not invest very much in the playing squad and that ultimately cost them. They have recently released five players and I was a little confused by some of the decisions because they would have been good players in the Championship. Noel Hunt and Simon Church can score goals in the second tier so I expected at least one of them to stay.

Looking at the players that can get them promoted they certainly do have some quality especially for the Championship. Alex McCarthy was called up to the England squad for the game against Brazil and this just goes to show that he has a lot of quality and they do need to keep hold of him because he impressed me and will be vital. New signing Wayne Bridge is also a good addition because he proved at Brighton last season that he can be one of the best left backs in the division and his experience will be crucial.
Wayne Bridge
Reading’s midfield is interesting because a lot of them fall into the category of too good for the Championship but not good enough for the Premier League. This includes Jobi McAnuff and Jimmy Kebe, their pace and directness is effective in the Championship but for some reason they just could not replicate it last season. I do really like Danny Guthrie and think he should still be a Premier League player and he proved at Newcastle that he can be a good player and is usually consistent but it has not quite worked out for him at Reading and I think he owes the fans a good season next year.
Reading v Crystal Palace
Adam Le Fondre needs to be used more next season because in my opinion and especially under Adkins he was not played anywhere near enough. He is a goal scorer, yes he might not add much in terms of build up but he certainly knows where the goal is. Reading are lacking in the forward positions but Nick Blackman could be a good signing in the long run, he only played 11 times and eight of these were from the bench so he also did not get much of a chance.
Reading v Everton

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Game, Team and Player of Matchday 7

Chelsea remain top of the table after beating Norwich City and more and more people are now starting to accept that they are genuine title contenders. With their attacking intent, they will be a threat to anyone and I am sure the two Manchester club are now very worried. The rest of the top four is now starting to take normal shape with Manchester United and City in second and third but Everton are still clinging onto fourth place with Tottenham just behind them on goal difference. At the bottom of the table it isn’t looking great for QPR, Reading and Norwich who haven’t won a game yet. But, they will still be positive as Southampton and Aston Villa seem to be struggling at the minute.

So, onto team of the weekend and in my opinion Manchester City deserve a lot of praise because they had to reshuffle their defence and were so comfortable against Sunderland it was unbelievable. They attacked well but more importantly they were solid at the back and kept their first clean sheet of the season so Roberto Mancini will be looking to build on this performance. They did exactly what was needed and didn’t give the away team a sniff, maybe it was a bad day for Sunderland because they never really looked like scoring but credit has to go to the two centre backs who probably haven’t played together that often in Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott. The other team from Manchester, performed brilliantly away to Newcastle United and deserved their comfortable victory and could have made it more if Danny Welbeck had his shooting boots on. But, in the first 15 minutes, I don’t think anyone could have lived with them, never mind an injury hit Newcastle defence. Everyone on the pitch played very well and they seemed to be enjoying their football and when they did come under pressure, they were strong enough to remain solid and not concede. However, there are still question marks over goalkeeper David De Gea who was poor again and almost cost them a goal. But, my team of the weekend is Arsenal, because they won a game a few years ago they certainly wouldn’t have away to West Ham. What makes it more special is that they came from 1-0 down and they even managed to control Andy Carroll for the majority of the game and often allowed him to win the first ball and just challenge for the second ball. The concentration of the back four was particularly impressive and when you have players like Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla you know they will create chances.

Unfortunately, no Arsenal players have made it onto my contenders for player of the weekend but Cazorla was very close, however fellow Spaniard Juan Mata deserves a mention instead because yet again he was fantastic, as he has been all season. He hasn’t been getting the headlines because of Eden Hazard but he has been equally impressive and is one of the cleverest players in the Premier League right now and it is remarkable that Spain can’t find a place for him in their squad. He got another two assists to his name and he also very reliable on the ball and won’t try silly things and if there is an easy option on, he will use it. Aleksandar Kolarov, though was equally impressive as he scored a fantastic free kick and set up Sergio Aguero in the second half to put the game beyond doubt. He has improved defensively in recent months and everyone knows what he is capable of going forward so Gael Clichy might find it difficult to get back in the team. He is always a threat to the opposition and certainly is a useful asset to the team, especially at home. My player of the weekend though actually goes to a goalkeeper who wasn’t first choice at the start of the season but after his performance this weekend, he is guaranteed a place for a while to come. Reading’s Alex McCarthy, produced save after save to secure what could be a vital point against Swansea City. His team may have thrown away a two goal lead but he was sensational and if it wasn’t for him then they would have surely lost the game. If they stay up by one point at the end of the season, I think Brian McDermott and the fans will look back at this performance and just realise how good of a performance it was. To pick up points away from home in the Premier League, you need special performances, and this was certainly one of them.

Onto, game of the weekend and obviously that Swansea Reading game will be high up the list as there were so many chances and both teams will be thinking that they should have an extra two points on their current tally. After Swansea came from two down, I expected them to win but as said Alex McCarthy was inspired form and couldn’t be beaten again. Reading will be the most worried though because they just can’t seem to get that first win and if they had held on last week against Newcastle then they probably would have seen this out too but that first win is usually the hardest. QPR, similarly need that first win and they put in a good performance away to West Brom but unfortunately, the surprise package of the Premier League so far were even better and the game went right down to the last minute and this could have also ended a draw after one of the sides were 2-0 up but it wasn’t to be and West Brom held on for a 3-2 win. The game of the weekend for me was actually West Ham against Arsenal because it was two very different styles playing against each other and just showed what English football is all about. Arsenal were sublime until West Ham somehow took the lead and from there it could have went either way and Arsenal just had enough on the day and finished off the game with a fantastic goal. Both managers know how they want to play and for that reason, the game was action packed and there were plenty of counter attacks leading to chances and all of the goals had a lot of quality about them.