An ultimately straightforward win against an unexpectedly feeble and limp Reading. Two fine finishes from Defoe were separated by a scuffed one from Bale, all of which came long before the home team scraped a consolation in the dying minutes. (Four league games now and a late goal conceded in each.) Those are the bare facts and in many ways it was such a one-sided and uneventful game that it’s hard to think of much more to add. Reading’s performance makes you wonder why Chelsea had so many problems with them a few weeks ago.
We were on top from the off and should’ve put the game well beyond the proverbial doubt before half time. Sigurdsson and Defoe both squandered chances or were desperately foiled as the Reading back line, led by the magnificently named Gorkss, woefully and inadequately failed to deal with anything we threw at them whether it be Lennon or Walker attempting to get to the bye-line or long balls from Vertonghen or Naughton at the back. The latter pair seemed to be allowed as much time as they wanted to pick out a man or involve Sandro or Dembélé. The Royals only threat came from set pieces all of which were dealt with comfortably, though we looked lucky to escape a penalty shout for handball with the score at 0-0 when Walker inadvertently pawed a cross away when under pressure.
Reading improved in the second period and with the score still only 1-0, you could see an equaliser in your mind’s eye as we allowed them more possession but thankfully the second and third goals came and calmed those particular fears
Sigurdsson’s position in the set-up we played on Sunday is key. His job is to find space and quickly use the ball to bring others into play, a role he performed with only limited success I’d say. An understanding between him and the others is still developing but he needs to take a lot more care with his distribution. The selection of Naughton rather than move Vertonghen across to cover the missing BAE was presumably because Villas-Boas wants the partnership between Gallas and the Belgian to build. Naughton added something going forward definitely but he dived into challenges unnecessarily too often thus putting us under pressure from free-kicks. Dembélé played deep and was often behind Sandro in the centre. He makes dribbling past players look easy; it all took place too far from goal for him to be at his most effective though. Defoe, Lennon, Walker and the two in the centre of midfield were excellent.
Call it confidence or stubbornness but AVB stuck to his selection strategy and it came good. The press will be off his back for a few days until the opportunity to make up a ‘Hugo/Ade/Dawson in showdown talks’ piece arises. A switch of focus next as Lazio come to town on Thursday evening. Team selection will be interesting, personally I hope the manager takes the competition a lot more seriously than Harry did.
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