Reading have been an absolute revelation this season under their – let’s face it – unknown manager Veljko Paunovic. The Serbian replaced Mark Bowen over the summer after the Norwich legend guided The Royals to a steady if unspectacular 14th-place finish last season. Paunovic, who made his name as a manager across the pond in the MLS, has transformed Reading from the definition of an also-ran into an unstoppable winning machine in just a few months.
They sit seven points clear of Swansea in second after eight undefeated games. A single draw away at Neil Warnock’s Middlesbrough (Warnock will love that stat) is the only result preventing them from proudly sporting a truly perfect record. At first it seemed like an anomaly that Reading were top of the table as they ground out results, often having very few goal-scoring opportunities while still taking all three points.
Friday 7.45pm: Coventry v Reading
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But now it seems their attacking prowess has been unleashed with a glut of goals flying in over their last two games. They scored eight in their first six Championship games and have since rifled in seven in their last two. However, in doing that, the floodgates have opened at the other end, relatively speaking, with the two goals conceded in the 4-2 midweek win over Blackburn doubling the total they had conceded in their previous seven league fixtures.
Coventry couldn’t be in more contrasting form. Mark Robins’ men have won just once in eight games, drawing two and losing the other five. Their solitary win came on the second weekend of the season and means they take on the table-topping Reading on Friday with the very real possibility of that winless streak extending to seven matches.
You couldn’t get any more route one with this selection and it feels, on paper, like an absolute no brainer. Surely this is the NAP of the weekend? The price is quite extraordinary considering how both of these sides have got on so far this season. While Paunovic has built a fearsome defence at Reading, he’s now started to unleash his side’s talents in the attacking third which has proven to be a truly potent combination.
Coventry are going to be low on confidence and the visit of the high-flying Royals will be most unwelcome in front of the Sky cameras on Friday night. Reading have dropped just two points all season and, with The Sky Blues picking up just two on offer from their last 18 available, we can’t go any way other than backing the Reading Win here.
As mentioned previously, Reading have conceded just three goals all season with two of those coming in a single match last time out. They’ve recorded clean sheets in six of their eight games and the strike force they’re facing here will not be giving them sleepless nights as they prepare to potentially extend their lead at the top of the table to an incredible 10 points with nine games played, although everyone else is in action the following day.
Coventry have scored six goals in their eight championship games with half of those coming in their only win back in September against QPR. They’ve scored just twice in their last six and can’t be expected to vastly improve that stat on Friday. This Reading defence vs this Coventry attack is a case of the immovable object coming up against the eminently-stoppable force. Both Teams Not To Score feels like a safe play and should come in even if Reading have an off day in front of goal, given their stingy backline and Cov’s shyness in the final third.
We’re expecting Reading to win this one comfortably and in terms of a goal scorer all eyes should be on the visitors’ options. The only problem we have here is that there’s two in-form forwards to choose from with very similar odds. Frankly, you shouldn’t be surprised if Yakou Meite and Lucas Joao net on Friday night.
These two have scored nine goals between them in the league already with Joao pipping Meite’s tally by five to four. However, our selection has three in the EFL Cup to his name and, in as close to a coin toss as you can get, that has given him the edge for us. With these two in fine fettle your safest bet is to back the anytime rather than first goalscorer, so we’re on Yakou Meite To Score Anytime on Friday night.
Three best bets for Coventry v Reading
*If you want to add these selections into a Same Game Multi you will get odds of over 7/1 with Paddy Power. All odds correct at time of publication.
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