Leeds United v Reading - a key man pulling the strings, the battle on Luke Ayling's hands, the odds and Graham Smyth's Verdict

Leeds United welcome a Reading side with 'power in attack' to Elland Road on Saturday.

Friday, 21st February 2020, 11:58 am
John Swift, seen here pulling Leeds' Ben White, pulls the strings for Reading (Pic: Getty)

Although the side Marcelo Bielsa's men will take on have won just one of their last eight Championship games, they have players who can cause any side in the division problems.

Here's what you need to know before United's clash with the Royals.

LAST TIME AT ELLAND ROAD

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Championship

Leeds United 1 Reading 0. Goals: Leeds - Dallas (60).

KEY BATTLE

Ovie Ejaria v Luke Ayling

Liverpool loanee and England under-21 international Ejaria has caused opposition sides no end of bother this season down Reading's left flank. The 22-year-old has recorded more dribbles per game than any other Championship player and wins 1.7 free-kicks per game. Leeds right-back Luke Ayling will have a battle on his hands but he's in fine form himself and put in two terrific all-round performances in his last two games, helping to shut down Brentford's potent attacking trio. It will be a fascinating duel and an important one.

ODDS

Leeds win 3-1

Draw - 17-4

Reading win - 11-1

READING KEY MAN

John Swift

Midfielder John Swift has nine assists - the joint third best in the division this season and has added five goals for the Royals. He leads the Championship in key passes, showing just how influential he is in the build up of Reading attacks and isn't afraid to have a shot or a dribble himself. Seven Man of the Match awards also show his impact. Mark Bowen admitted in his pre-game press conference that Leeds may have midfielders who can run faster, for longer than Swift, but held his man up as the kind of player he wants to work with.

GRAHAM SMYTH'S VERDICT

Last Saturday's 3-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday was Reading's first win in eight league games but they have lost just three of their last 18 in league and cup. Expect them to play one up top, possibly in a 4-2-3-1, with Swift pulling the strings from deep, Ejaria running at Leeds and eight-goal George Puscas leading the line. Marcelo Bielsa has a settled side and with Kalvin Phillips back in full swing following suspension, they should fear the Reading attack no more than they did Brentford's. It's an oft-repeated mantra by now but if Leeds are clinical, they will win this game. The first goal, as always, will be crucial. If it goes the way of the Whites, expect a home win.