On paper, Reading will hardly fill Fantasy managers with optimism ahead of the forthcoming double Gameweek. Languishing in the relegation zone, last season’s Championship winners are four points from safety and have just one win in 15 games, but a delve into their recent statistics reveals some gems who have a half-decent chance of racking up a handsome haul of points.
The Royals come into this double Gameweek on the back of three straight defeats. A 3-2 loss at Wigan in Gameweek 13 was followed by a 1-0 defeat at Villa, before they were beaten by the odd goal in seven at home to United last Saturday. It is their away form that is particularly key during the double Gameweek, as they take on first Southampton then Sunderland on the road. Brian McDermott’s side have failed to win any games on their travels this term and have scored just seven goals, while conceding 13. They have they managed to score more than one goal on the road on just two occasions, notching twice in Gameweek 1 against Chelsea and the same tally in Gameweek 7 at Swansea.
While they are similarly porous at home, conceding 14 times, Reading have offered a more potent attacking threat at the Madejski, scoring 12 times. If you are of the school of thought that believes home form will eventually translate into away success then the Royals’ offensive record in front of their own fans offers a crumb of comfort for double Gameweek investors.
In Southampton, Reading are likely to find far hardier opponents in Gameweek 16 than the side that was hammered 6-1 by Arsenal in Gameweek 4. Although the Saints have stiffened markedly at the back since that wake-up call, the signs are still encouraging that Reading will be able to find the net against the Hampshire side – Southampton have only kept one clean sheet and shipped 12 goals at St Mary’s so far. Reading’s defenders are set for a torrid time, though, with investors in their rearguard set to be reliant on attacking points rather than a clean sheet. Nigel Adkins’ side have notched 13 goals at home this season, the same as Swansea and Tottenham and one more than Everton.
At Sunderland, the prospects look much better for Reading at both ends of the pitch. The north east side have scored just five goals at home this season and could be without their chief goal threat Steven Fletcher, who limped off with an ankle injury at half time during the Gameweek 15 defeat at Norwich. The Black Cats defence has also looked shaky at the Stadium of Light in recent matches. Despite keeping QPR at bay in their 0-0 Gameweek 14 draw, they lost 4-2 at home to West Brom the previous Gameweek, 1-0 against Aston Villa at home in Gameweek 10 and drew 1-1 against Newcastle at home in Gameweek 8. Just two clean sheets at home for Sunderland this campaign offers further hope to Reading investors.
The Likely Lads
Adam Federici offers Fantasy managers a cut-price keeper option ahead of the double Gameweek. Coming in at 4.3 in Fantasy Premier League (FPL), he offers guaranteed game time, with Alex McCarthy out injured, and while his chances of clean sheets are perhaps debatable, Federici will have save points to fall back upon should his opponents find a way past him.
One of the standout selections amongst the Reading ranks is Nicky Shorey, who will be a familiar name to our members. Statistically, the left back has been sensational and in recent weeks this has been translated into FPL points as his team mates get better at finding his pinpoint passes into the box. So far this season he has notched up four assists, the joint highest tally among defenders, along with John Arne Riise and Leighton Baines. Priced at just 4.1 in FPL and 4.0 in the Sky Sports game, his returns have been highly respectable in the last six Gameweeks – Shorey has accrued 28 FPL points, including three bonus points, suggesting that a double digit haul is not out of the question during the double Gameweek for the man many are calling the Tesco Value Leighton Baines.
Sean Morrison is another name to consider at the back. Since replacing Kaspars Gorkss in the Gameweek 10 trip to QPR, Morrison – priced at 4.1 in FPL and 3.5 in the Sky Sports game – has proven exceptional value, despite registering a single clean sheet over his six appearances. Superb in the air, the centre-half has been a constant menace from set-pieces in the opposition box – so far, he has scored twice and provided an assist, in addition to picking up bonus in four of his six matches. Averaging a superb 5.3 points per game, he’s a definite alternative to Shorey.
In midfield, Reading captain Jobi McAnuff, who is priced at 5.1 in the FPL game and 5.0 in the Sky game, is the standout selection. Six assists have helped him achieve a haul of 47 points in the FPL game, the highest of any Reading player, while McAnuff’s highest total over back-to-back FPL Gameweeks this term is 13, achieved in Gameweeks 6 and 7. Realistically, though, around seven to 10 points is a likely score for the winger over this double Gameweek, with at least one assist a conservative estimate of his fortunes at Sunderland and Southampton.
Among the forward options, Adam Le Fondre stands tallest. The risk of rotation has subsided in recent matches and he has started every match since Gameweek 12, where he scored twice, gained maximum FPL bonus points and racked up an impressive FPL score of 13. Away from home, though, he has so far failed to find the net, but it’s worth noting that he scored a brace the last time he visited St Mary’s, albeit in the Championship last season. He is priced kindly in the FPL game at 4.9m, but at 6.5m in the Sky Game his price may be prohibitive for many.
Another to cement a place in the starting line up since Gameweek 12 is winger Hal Robson-Kanu, who has racked up three goals and an assist this campaign. None of his goals have come on the road, though, but if he can maintain a role in the starting line-up, risk-taking Fantasy managers could reap rewards by taking a punt on the midfielder, who is priced at just 4.3m in the FPL and 4.5m in the Sky game.