Tactical Preview: Reading vs Yeovil
-----------------THE OPPOSITION SCOUT REPORT-----------------
STATISTICS - Courtesy of WhoScored.com
• Yeovil have lost the most games in the Championship this season, 18 times out of 31 games.
• The Glovers have also sacrificed the most possession this season, having the lowest average in the league of 45.2%.
• It doesn`t get any better statistically for Yeovil, who on average concede the most shots in a game (19), with away from home on average conceded over 21 shots a game.
• Gary Johnson`s side have also on average committed the most fouls per game (13.6).
RECENT FORM - LAST FIVE GAMES
Yeovil 1 - 0 Doncaster - 22/2/14
Yeovil 0 - 0 Watford - 18/2/14
Yeovil 1 - 1 Millwall - 11/2/14
Yeovil 1 - 2 Leeds - 8/2/14
Forest 3 - 1 Yeovil - 2/2/14
YEOVIL`S STYLE OF PLAY
Despite having the lowest average possession in the league, from what I have seen of Yeovil, they play a good, fluid passing game, maintaining good patience before getting the ball forward directly into the strikers. This direct approach is shown above with the stats, probably to do with the signing of 6`3 Ishmael Miller and fellow striker Kieffer Moore, standing at 6`5. Yeovil have very regularly lined up in a standard 4-4-2 this season, but with James Hayter`s recent run in the side as a striker, has allowed them to drop him into midfield if necessary, into a 4-4-1-1 system. Yeovil also have a very narrow outlook, often using central midfield players in a wide position (Joe Ralls) and this system even forced Nigel Adkins into making an early change in the reverse fixture in August, bringing on Danny Williams for McCleary, in an attempt to match their narrow formation.
EXPECTED LINE UP - YEOVIL
After their 1-0 victory over Doncaster last week, Gary Johnson will hope to name an unchanged line up with a 4-4-2 / 4-4-1-1 (depending on Hayter`s role), but will depend on the fitness of Ishmael Miller, who was brought off against Donny with a hamstring problem. If he does play, I expect him to use the channels in a similar way that Jason Roberts did in the 11/12 season for us - a good mix of pace and power, holding the ball up and allowing his team time to move up the pitch. This will also allow Holmes and Lawrence, players more comfortable playing through the middle, to give support and use their technical ability to cause problems through the centre of the pitch, while Hayter will prove a useful tool in the box (no pun intended) as well.
APPROACH TO THE GAME
Yeovil have improved defensively recently, keeping two clean sheets on the bounce, probably attributed to a more reserved style in recent games from Johnson. However, their defensive record against the top six sides is not the best, failing to keep a clean sheet against any of their nine games against them, conceding 18 goals in the process. I`m sure Johnson will want to improve on this front and I expect will adopt a defensive approach as a result. I`d also expect the central midfield duo of Edwards and Ralls to sit deep, soak up pressure, then release Lawrence and Holmes to break down the wings. Don`t expect to see Ayling or McAllister coming past the half way line though, especially the latter at the age of 35. If Johnson is in a position where he needs to get a goal from the game, 6`5 striker Kieffan Moore is a good outlet for Yeovil from the bench, with long balls into the area likely to cause problems if he enters in the field.
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
The defensive height of the Glovers is obviously their main strength, with Duffy and Webster standing at 6`4, while Ayling and McAllister are just short of six foot. If we continue with our recent direct approach, Adkins can`t expect much joy in this one, especially with Ralls and Edwards likely to be mopping up any second balls. The pace they have on the wings and through the middle with Holmes, Lawrence and Miller will also cause problems, which is also why I expect Yeovil to sit deep then play on the break, what Blackburn did to good effect against us last week.
As much as they have improved in recent weeks, especially with the great acquisition of Shane Duffy on loan, Yeovil`s defence remains their weak point. While the central defensive duo have towering height, within that bundle usually comes a lack of mobility when it comes to a striker's movement - cue Adam le Fondre. I think we`d like to see Alfie try and play off the last man`s shoulder in an attempt to get in behind, exactly like what he was doing against Bolton and Blackpool, not so much against Blackburn last week.
Top goalscorer - Ishmael Miller - Five goals isn`t exactly fantastic from a club`s top goalscorer, but consider he has only made 12 league appearances, then it is a fairly decent return. After the 26-year old failed to get first team opportunities at Nottingham Forest, he seems to be settling in well in Somerset.
Top assister - John Lundstram - The Everton youngster only has three assists to his name, but has still made a good impression with the Glovers. He missed out against Doncaster due to teams only being allowed five loan players in a match day squad and could miss out here too, unless he is preferred to Joe Ralls.
Man to watch - Duane Holmes - Another loanee in the Yeovil ranks that is looking to make a name for himself, after finding himself on the fringes of the first team at Huddersfield. Despite being more familiar in a central role, in his impressive debut against Doncaster he lined up on the wing and made a good first impression to Gary Johnson.
-----------------HOW SHOULD WE APPROACH IT?-----------------
Against Blackburn, if you had to sum the performance up in one word, you would say flat. We had good amounts of ball in the game, but Blackburn were fairly happy to sit back, not allow any space or gaps in midfield, with the two strikers forcing Gorkss and Pearce into long balls, which was bread and butter for the big Blackburn central defenders. There was a massive lack of end quality when we got into the final third, with neither McAnuff nor McCleary having any good influence on the game. As we have the past few games, we lined up with a solid 4-4-2, which I once again expect us to do for this game.
This is the line-up I expect, not what I necessarily would want. After a mixed performance from Akpan last week, I have a feeling Adkins will bring Guthrie in for this one, despite the fact I would like to see Akpan stay in the team as Guthrie`s slow tempo will fall straight into Yeovil`s game plan. As I mentioned, long ball will not be effective at all against Gary Johnson` side, so ideally we need to focus on the wings and creating width, especially when Yeovil typically play very narrow, yet managing to guard against the counter attack. Guthrie and Williams sitting deep can thwart a potential counter attack, but at the expense of not having support from midfield, meaning Pog will have to drop deep to compensate. Jobi cutting inside should hopefully also help fill this void, with Obita`s desire to overlap creating more width.
To summarise, you would expect us to win this game, but Yeovil will certainly make it as hard as possible, sitting deep and soaking up pressure, before using the wings to counter attack. However, one of either Guthrie/ Akpan or Williams sitting deeper should hopefully stop this problem, if Gunter or Obita have left gaps in behind. The last thing we want is the likes of Holmes, Lawrence and Miller one-on-one with Pearce and Gorkss, so as long as we compensate correctly for the counter, without sacrificing any attacking threat, we should come out with the three points. I`d like to see the forward players be positive and take on the defenders, with Alfie playing off the shoulder and causing the defenders problems with his movement, as him or Pog certainly won`t trouble them aerially.