On Friday 15th April 2022, 6th placed Sheffield United take on 21st placed Reading in the EFL Championship. The last time these two teams met back in November 2021, it was an 1-0 away victory for Sheffield United with Jayden Bogle scoring the only goal of the game. Coming into this game, Sheffield United drew 0-0 with Bournemouth and Reading lost 1-2 at home to Cardiff City.
Sheffield United come into this game having drawn goalless with Bournemouth in their previous match. That draw leaves the Blades with a record of 18 wins, 11 draws and 12 losses. The main reason why Sheffield United are in the hunt for promotion play-offs is because of their overperforming defence. The Blades should have conceded 45 goals according to xGA but they have shipped four fewer than expected with 41.
Seen in the above visual is the shot map of Sheffield United this season from open play. The Blades may be overperforming at the back but they are slightly underperforming going forward. A few big chances which had an xG value of 0.45 or greater have either been saved by the opposition keepers or worse off target. For the goals, the Blades have relied on Billy Sharp and Morgan Gibbs-White a little too much as they have been responsible for approximately 43.4% of the team’s goals.
Oliver Norwood is Sheffield United’s most successful threat creator this campaign from both open play as well as set pieces. Yet he is not even in the top five for assists in his own team. The team’s leading assist maker is once again Billy Sharp with six to his name.
Reading come into this game after losing 1-2 at home to Cardiff City. Lucas Joao scored for Reading before Cardiff hit back with two goals in that game. This loss means Reading have lost 22 games this season (they have won 12 and drawn seven). A big reason why Reading are massively underperforming this season is their leaky defence. xGA predicted Reading to let in 66 goals but they have conceded 77 goals this season.
Given above is the performances of Reading this season relative to the rest of the league. Reading rank in the bottom half for xG per game, xA per game and key passes per game. But Reading manage to hit 36% of their shots on target putting them in the top 5%.
Both Sheffield United and Reading will want to win this game for different reasons. The Blades will look to strengthen their play-off hopes while Reading will want to distance themselves from the relegation zone.