Having beaten Wycombe in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night, José Gomes has expressed his desire to mix things up at Reading.
The Royals changed their formation for the tie as Gomes opted to try three centre-backs for the first time since his arrival in Berkshire.
This tweak will look to capitalise on a new era at the club, having seen a number of new players brought into the squad.
George Puscas, Lucas Joao, Yakou Meite and Danny Loader make up the striker options, whilst the only out and out winger in the squad is Lucas Boyé. The Argentinian joined from Torino a couple of days before the start of the season and it’s likely that Gomes will use him as a forward.
Modou Barrow departed the club, giving the Portuguese boss even more reason to play a formation that doesn’t depend on wingers. The attacking wing-backs that the club currently have give the team the missing width whilst the extra centre-back offers protection when defending on the counter-attack.
Andy Yiadom is likely to be the main man on the right-hand side whilst until Tyler Blackett returns from injury, Omar Richards will be on the left.
The overall change comes after the Royals were left exposed in both of their opening Championship fixtures. When they went down 3-1 at the Madejski Stadium to Sheffield Wednesday, Liam Moore was left uncharacteristically exposed as Yiadom left too much space behind him when going forward.
The same happened at Hull. Richards was caught out on the left and there ended up being three unmarked attackers in the box, as the full-backs had once more pushed too high.
Defensively, the formation definitely adds more protection but does it help going forward? The attack would be made up of two strikers, with one of the three midfielders playing in behind. This is important for Reading to have these attacking options as goals have been a struggle in previous years.
Joao and Puscas would be expected to start as the two strikers with one of John Swift or Ovie Ejaria behind the pair. The player behind the forwards is so important to the success of the formation at Reading. They need to be creative and provide the link between the two strikers and the midfield.
With two central midfielders also covering the defence, they both must have the ability to get from one box to another.
The fitness is crucial in this position and that will be a key factor why Gomes has chosen to try it. Andy Rinomota is often seen darting around the pitch, breaking up play and starting attacks – making the player ideal for the new system.
It’s yet to be seen how this will work for Gomes and his side, but it is expected to be used in Sunday’s home fixture against Cardiff.