Reading vs Brentford preview: Can the Bees catch the top two?
BRENTFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 26: Josh Dasilva and Pontus Jansson of Brentford celebrate after the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and West Bromwich Albion at Griffin Park on June 26, 2020 in Brentford, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

High-flying Brentford have stormed out of the blocks since the return from lockdown, beating two top-six rivals and keeping two clean sheets.

Ollie Watkins' strike saw the Bees win 1-0 over second placed West Brom, closing the gap to just five points with seven games remaining.

Reading lost 2-1 to in-form Derby County in the last match day, cooling any talk of a late play-off push as the side sit mid-table.


Key Battle

The main battle on the pitch on Tuesday will certainly be between Brentford's wide men, Bryan Mbeumo and Saïd Benrahama, and the Reading full-backs.

With 48 goals between the front three, as many as the whole Reading squad have scored in the league this season, it is very evident that stopping the 'BMW' is much easier said than done.

With this in mind, Mark Bowen may revert to a 3-5-2 for some extra defensive solidity, a formation the club have have used on multiple occasions this season.


Previous Meeting

Reading's final visit to Griffin Park came in November, and ended in a 1-0 win for Thomas Frank's side.

Watkins' goal on the hour mark signalled Bowen's first defeat as Reading manager.

Reading offered threat throughout but their finishing touch evaded them.


Team News

Brentford should be able to start key forward Mbeumo, who had previously tested positive for Covid-19 and managed a cameo appearance on Friday night.

Reading will certainly be without centre-back Matt Miazga, who saw a straight red for a violent clash with Derby midfielder Tom Lawrence after Saturday's defeat at Pride Park.


Manager's Thoughts

Although the odds are heavily stacked against the home side, Bowen still has aspirations of causing an upset. He told the club website:

"If your organisation isn’t good and you fall onto the back foot, Brentford will exploit the gaps you leave, so we’ve really got to be positive and forward-thinking in everything we do.

"If we approach this evening’s game by getting onto the front foot, using our quality to take the game to them, then there’s no reason why we can’t get a result.

"And of we can iron out those key situations in games, the key decisions in matches, we'll turn those good performaces into points I'm sure.”

The Reading boss wants his side to be more aggressive than they were last time out, admitting changes may be necessary.

"We know it's going to be a tough game against Brentford. But, if we can approach this game in the right way - we were probably a bit too passive in the first half at Derby, so we need to be more aggressive in our forward play - then let's see where we find ourselves after the final whistle tonight.

"We're playing a side who are really dangerous team. We'll have a look at how the players recover after Derby - Ovie and Michael came off with cramp at the weekend and obviously we are without Matt Miazga who is suspended after the incident at the end of the game. So I wouldn't rule out freshening things up a little."