Back Reading to get off to their customary fast start at Craven Cottage.
Fulham v Reading - Saturday 15:00
Fast starts have been instrumental to Reading’s rise up the table in recent weeks and there’s value in backing Jaap Stam’s men to continue that trend with a half-time lead at 10/3. They’ve opened the scoring inside 22 minutes on each of their last four outings, bagging seven goals altogether before the clock has reached 30 minutes.
Given the consistency of the run, we can safely say it’s a deliberate strategy to target a particular weakness in the opposition set-up and exploit it quickly, before settling back into the Dutchman’s possession-based philosophy. As games progress, the emphasis on ball retention is a blessing when you’re ahead but a curse whenever required to chase a game.
Slavisa Jokanovic will surely be aware of Reading’s approach but without knowing what precisely Stam has up his sleeve, he might be powerless to prevent them having it their way. Either way, the decisive action could come early. Do Fulham fight fire with fire, or do they sit back and try to weather those opening exchanges?
Given that these are the top two teams in the division for possession - at 57 and 59 per cent respectively - it’s fair to say there could be more bark than bite from both sides after the interval. Garath McCleary has been the chief raider in recent weeks. He looks like a great first goalscorer punt at 10/1, having broken the deadlock in three of those last four matches.