Reading vs Birmingham | Wednesday 9th December 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Before I dig into Wednesday’s game of interest from the EL, here’s a few surprising things:
- Reading’s start under Veljko Paunović
- The odds-against quotes on the Royals to win this one
- Birmingham’s away record – P8, W2, D5, L1
Reading start this round of fixtures in third place, a point behind leaders Norwich. It’s not often you’ll find an odds-against price for a team that high coming up against a side in the bottom half (16th).
The fans have returned to the Madjeski Stadium, so the Royals will have the backing of 2,000 fans. And so far, only Watford (19) have picked up more points at home than Reading’s 18. Saturday’s 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest made it six wins in eight on home soil, with five clean sheets in those games. They’re impressive numbers if some of the others aren’t.
That said, their expected goals for (xGF) has improved in recent weeks and is more sustainable than their first few games where it seemed that every shot led to a goal, while defensively, their expected goals against (xGA) has been consistently strong.
Paunović is getting the best out of forwards Lucas João and Yakou Meïté, while youngster Michael Olise is playing a starring role, earning plenty of plaudits and potential suitors.
Even though Aitor Karanka’s Birmingham have lost just once on the road so far, this will be a tough task. They’ve scored five goals in their eight away games, including one in their win over Bristol City on Saturday, which I’m taking as the reason the bookies have priced it up as they have.
Only Luton and the bottom three in the table have a worse xGF than Birmingham, so for them, it’s about creating chances and being clinical because they don’t make a hatful every game.
They rank lowly for shots (173) and have had the joint-second fewest shots on target (47), which highlights their lack of creation, although Jérémie Bela and Mikel San José are doing their best to change that. Despite a strong away record, they’ve allowed the fourth-most shots at 208, so Reading could well fill their boots making it a busy night for Neil Etheridge.
I can’t ignore the price on a home win all things considered (11/10), but I like to eek as much out as I can, so adding Under 4 Goals into the mix boosts that to a nice 8/5 play with the Bet365 Bet Builder.
Reading’s home games average 2.4 goals per game, with five of their six wins seeing three or fewer goals. While Birmingham’s away games average a measly 1.13 goals per game – their highest-scoring road trip was a 2-1 visit to Preston.
So, with a strong home team who don’t concede many facing a team that doesn’t score many makes this 8/5 a great bet.
Reading vs Birmingham: Reading to win and Under 4 Goals (8/5 Bet365)