The form book points to another heavy defeat for Reading as they host Swansea City on Boxing Day, but for those looking for signs from the two sides’ most recent matches, there is another outcome entirely that punters can back at great value.
Odds of 19/10 against a home win for Brian McDermott’s basement club against mid-table Swansea are arguably a little mean on the basis of their desperate run of seven defeats in a row.
A Swansea win is priced 27/20 and the draw is at 23/10.
After posting their most solid performance of the season in a devastating 1-0 defeat to Manchester City, Reading should be poised to take their second win of the season against Michael Laudrup’s charges.
The way in which the Royals closed down City’s intelligent attacking play to keep the champions at bay until Gareth Barry’s stoppage-time header looked nothing like the team that had shipped in 36 goals in their first 17 Premier League matches.
Should Reading be able to build on that and strike the right balance between their new-found defensive competency and desire for pacy attacks, they should have the means to see off a Swansea side without a win in three.
Swansea also come into this game on the back of an accomplished defensive performance against Manchester giants – having held Manchester United to a 1-1 draw in Wales.
Should both teams continue where they left off, a tight game is foreseeable, and Reading to edge a match with two goals or less can be backed at odds of 6/1.
Then again, the way Reading’s traumatic start to life in the top flight has gone, whether they can keep that momentum is a big question.
Five times this season Reading have led at half-time only to lose or draw, including letting a two-goal lead slip to draw 2-2 at the Liberty Stadium in October.
Reading to lead at half-time and draw at full-time is a great option on that basis at 25/2, with Reading to lead after the first 45 minutes and Swansea to run out winners priced at 28/1.