Reading stun pre-season favourites Fulham
Reading boss Veljko Paunovic was understandably delighted to see his Royals side grind out a 2-1 win at Championship favourites Fulham last Saturday to push the Berkshire boys into the safety of mid-table. Ovie Ejaria's brace had put the visitors in control, and even though they conceded a late goal four minutes from time, Reading clung on to a huge three points.
Speaking post-match, Paunovic said: "I'm delighted with many things - first with the result, performance and the way we ground out the win. There were a lot of pieces in the past missing but in this game there was grit, determination, character, composure, execution was fantastic in attack and we matched them up very well in defence."
However, the good vibes were short-lived with national reports this week suggesting the Royals are set for a points deduction 'between to six to nine points' after breaching EFL financial rules in recent seasons. This comes after club were placed under a transfer embargo over the summer, restricting Reading's ability to bring in new players.
Middlesbrough fall short
Middlesbrough failed to capitalise on a bright start against newly-promoted Blackpool last weekend as they fell to a disappointing 2-1 home defeat. The Teessiders made a bright start to proceedings at the Riverside Stadium with Marcus Tavernier putting Boro into the lead early on from close range before he teed up Andraz Sporar, who hit the bar.
But Blackpool hit back, striking the woodwork themselves before levelling on the hour mark. And Boro defender Grant Hall then turned a corner into his own net with 12 minutes to go to settle matters despite Martin Payero cracking the underside of the bar as Middlesbrough pressed for a late equaliser with boss Neil Warnock bemoaning their end product.
The Boro supremo said, "We haven't got that ruthless streak I think you need at times, whether we can get that I don't know. The players are good enough, the technical ability is as good as I've had within the team itself. But you just need a few more things to put in your cake to get the right recipe. We're a bit short of that in one or two areas."
Reading boast a dreadful recent record against Middlesbrough, losing eight of their past nine Championship matches against the Teessiders (W0-D1-L8), failing to even score on five occasions. During that same sequence, the Royals have been turned over by Boro in all four league meetings in Berkshire, by an aggregate of 1-7 in the visitors' favour.
Reading 2.747/4 have collected seven points from their past three matches having opened the campaign with a solitary success in five. Despite the upturn, Veljko Paunovic's posse have thus far overperformed according to underlying data metrics, propping up the division on xP, as well as sitting second bottom for shots in the box and npxG ratio rankings.
Middlesbrough 2.809/5 have been an inconsistent start to 2021/22 (W2-D3-L3) although Neil Warnock's belief that Boro have been better than their results imply is backed up by the numbers. The Teessiders sit eighth for xP and npxG ratio returns, plus featuring prominently in the shots on-target standings and Big Chances created through eight rounds of action.
Goals have been a feature of Reading's early season encounters. Remarkably, the Royals have paid out for Over 2.5 Goals 2.001/1 backers in all eight of their opening Championship contests this term, with Both Teams To Score 1.804/5 hunters profiting in seven of those eight tussles. Combining the two plays in a Bet Builder appeals at 2.255/4 quotes on Saturday.
Middlesbrough head south having sored in six of their eight league fixtures, whilst shutting their opposition out only twice. However, this wager is largely built around Reading's efforts with the hosts' games seeing more goalmouth action than any of their divisional rivals so far this season with matches averaging an eye-catching 4.13 goals per-game.