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A Quick Look At The Numbers Behind Reading's PL Form

Saturday at 3pm Man City host Reading in what many would predict to be a mismatch. Reading are struggling, have lost the last 6 fixtures and were most recently on the end of a 5-2 thrashing. A bad time to play Man City away, then.

Ben Hoskins

Reading are on a six game losing streak and struggling. We know they have issues conceding goals and if this mini spiral continues for too much longer it may seriously dent their ability to stay in the Premier League. Fans may talk of a manager's shortcomings or that unrealistic sums should be spent, but sometimes it's simply down to the talent of a promoted squad being way short of what would be required to survive in the Premier League.

Reading's 2012/13 PL form

Firstly, let's look at Reading's time spent in a winning, drawing or a losing position.


The above chart is the % of time a team spent in a winning/drawing/losing position, and it's a moving average.

It's pretty clear to see that Reading, in the last 5 games, have begun to slide, to spiral in a downward fashion. If a team's % of time spent winning decreases and it's % of time spent losing increases it's fair to assume that they will not be in a strong position to win a football game. But has Reading's fixture list suddenly become harder, which may explain the dip in form?

Reading's last 5 PL games were not against any outstandingly high level of PL competition; Aston Villa, Man Utd, Southampton, Sunderland and Arsenal. The two harder fixtures were both at home and Reading's overall fixture list has not been exceptionally difficult, nor easy.


QoO, or quality of opposition, measures a team's fixture list by taking their opponents weighted league position at the time of the fixture. We then put this onto a database for each fixture and come up with a moving average as we see above.

The difficulty of Reading's fixture list has been easing as the season progresses, but so has the league's overall average. This can be assigned to 'settling down' of teams' league position, because a win and 3 points in week 2 can cause a ten place rise in league position.

The difficulty of Reading's 17 game fixture list can be fairly described as average. How about the points that Reading have gained from these fixtures?


Reading have registered 0.53 ppg so far and that total is trending in the direction of trouble. 0.53 ppg average factored over a 38 game season is good for 20 points, and that low total is good for nothing but a swift return to the Championship.

But why are Reading struggling so?



Quite simple, really. This is Readings moving totals for goals for and against.

Reading have consistently been conceding more than they score as for as totals are concerned, and that gap between have and have not is, worryingly, widening. Again, it's the last 4 or 5 games which have caused the most easily visible damage.

Going back to Reading's overall, 17 game totals it's clear that their share of the overall shots isn't helping....


and neither is their shots on target ratio...


Reading's shots on target ratio, as seen as a moving average in the graph above, is the worst number in the division. 37.72% share of the shots on targets in their 17 fixtures is all Reading can muster, and we have to be realistic and say that if a team consistently has such a minority share of such an important stat as shots on target, then that said team may well struggle going forward.

Man City, as the best SoTR team in the league have been included to provide the biggest contrast available.


An explanation of pdo can be found here. In essence it combines a teams save% and scoring% and pdo average is 100


As we can see, Reading are a near par pdo team, no great good, or bad luck in terms of converting their shots on target into goals for or preventing the opposition from doing likewise.

Finally, a look at Reading's ability to score the first goal and the eventual result in each game.


bold is a home result, italics is an away result. The colour scheme is self-explanatory.

10 first goals for, 6 first goals against and one nil nil game. Just the single win, 6 draws and 10 losses.

Reading are a team in a slump within, what can be charitably described as, poor overall form. Reading's time spent in a losing position is poor and getting worse despite a very average QoO schedule. reading's points per game average is relegation form and declining, their goal difference is worsening and their share of the shots and, more importantly, their shots on target are amongst the worst in the league.

There are not many positives for Reading to cling to, it seems to be bad news on all fronts. The positives are few, but we must say it is early in the season, there is plenty of time left yet and these numbers may be as bad as it gets. A lot of these categories fluctuate and regress, positively and negatively as a season progresses.

Reading urgently need to stop the bleeding in the shots ratio's categories, for if they continue to be outshot on such a consistent basis they will require a much higher save and scoring % (pdo) in order to win football games and thus survive.

Thanks for reading.

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