SCOUT Phil Smith takes a three-part look at Burnley’s next opponents Reading, who travel to Turf Moor a week tomorrow.
Part One: TO quote Stan Ternent, “A blind man on a galloping horse” can ascertain that Reading’s offensive prowess has diminished following the departure of Shane Long to West Bromwich Albion.
Last season’s play-off finalists managed to warm the gloves of Carl Ikeme just once in their previous fixture against Middlesbrough.
At the other end, Adam Federici kept a clean sheet last weekend, his third of the season.
In his 10 outings prior to the Middlesbrough game, he conceded two or more goals on five occasions.
The Australian international does not command his area.
Poor positioning has led to him conceding at his near post on numerous occasions.
As I mentioned when discussing Lee Camp, this is a criminal error for any goalkeeper.
The back four of Joseph Mills, Alex Pearce, Kaspars Gorkss and Shaun Cummings can be isolated by pace.
This was evident in their fixture against Bristol City.
Reading returned home from Ashton Gate with the points courtesy of three goals in the final 18 minutes.
All who observed the fixture will testify, however, that the Robins could, and should, have had the game sewn up long before Jobi McAnuff began the fightback.
Jamal Cambell-Ryce and Albert Adomah dominated proceedings.
Slow reaction speed is evident from both full backs.
Pace and a quick change of direction should unlock the door for Burnley next weekend.
Both are qualities which Ross Wallace and Junior Stanislas bring to the table.
Their defence is narrow and it will be evident that both full backs are sucked in centrally.
Would I suggest a policy of width? Not exclusively!
Expect them to sit deep and allow Burnley time on the ball.
Pressure will not be exerted.
They will back off and invite the opposition to take a chance from distance - a tactic designed to nullify the threat of pace.
It may well be successful.
However, Burnley are not a one trick pony.
Wallace, Charlie Austin and Jay Rodriguez have all netted from distance this campaign.
Brian Easton and Kieran Trippier will be afforded great freedom.
They must come from behind, provide width and deliver the ball into the danger zone (see Diagram).
Reading will adopt a conservative approach at Turf Moor.
The deep defensive line evidence of this assumption.
Some may suggest this indicates their willingness to settle for a point.
I would not disagree.
As with any strategy, however, it is not without an element of risk.
Their midfield will be afforded a greater workload, and thus risk surrendering territory in the middle of the park.
Part two on Tuesday will explore the Royals offensive organisation and transition.
I also cast my eye over the new Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Find out who, and why, in the Burnley Express.