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Chelsea (A) Match Preview

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You can never be unhappy with a point in the Barclays Premier League and despite failing to beat Stoke on Saturday, we're at least off the mark in our first top flight season in four years.

I'm glad we did get off the mark Saturday because today we'll be playing one of our toughest games of the season as we travel to face the reigning European Champions Chelsea.


The two sides have only met 12 times in the league and just 18 times in all competitions so there's not an awful lot of history to go on here. 4 of those league meetings came between 2006-2008 where Chelsea took the win three times with one draw at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day 2006.

Beyond that and the Royals have never beaten Chelsea away from home, with their last win over the West London side coming in a League Cup tie back in 1987 at Elm Park.

The overriding memory most have of Reading against Chelsea is the incident that saw Peter Cech suffer a fractured skull at the Madejski after colliding with Stephen Hunt. Emotions ran high in the wake of the incident with comments coming out of Jose Mourinho that enraged Royals fans, while some Chelsea fans accused Hunt of deliberately going out to hurt their Czech 'keeper. Only Stephen Hunt will truly know whether the intent was there but some bad blood has simmered between the two sets of fans ever since and I doubt Reading's fans or players will get an easy ride tonight.

Team News

Reading will pick from the same squad as last week, though there's no Jordan Obita to call on after he was loaned out to Portsmouth.

Jimmy Kebe is still out with a hamstring injury while Jason Roberts serves the final game of his three-match ban he incurred for being sent off against Palace last season.

The real selection quandry will be whether Brian McDermott sticks with Hal Robson-Kanu on the wing or gives Garath McCleary the start after an impressive cameo against Stoke. Elsewhere and it's possible Brian may pick Nicky Shorey as a bit more of a mobile left-back and to give Ian Harte a breather.

Reading - Possible Team (4-4-2): Federici; Harte, Gorkss, Pearce, Gunter; McAnuff, Guthrie, Leigertwood, McCleary; Le Fondre, Pogrebnyak

Chelsea welcome back Ramires into the fold though new signing Marko Marin is unlikely to make the team due to a hamstring injury while David Luiz is also struggling to be fit.

Former Royals loanee Ryan Betrand could also feature for the home side.

The guys over at We Ain't Got No History expect a few changes to Sunday's game at Wigan, projecting the following lineup.

Chelsea - Possible Team (4-2-3-1): Cech; Cole, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic; Raul Meireles, John Obi Mikel; Ramires, Eden Hazard, Daniel Sturridge; Fernando Torres.

Best Odds

Chelsea - 3/10

Draw - 9/2

Reading - 12/1

Tilehurst End Prediction

There are few harder trips than going to Stamford Bridge but Reading will hope to try and spoil the party in what is Chelsea's first home game since their dramatic Champions League win. We won't go there trying to win a point but we'll try our usual trick of frustrating sides, keeping them out of the danger areas and then looking to hit on the break.

Our style of play arguably suits us better away from home but the vast array of talent available to Roberto Di Matteo means that we'll have a very, very tough job on our hands tonight.

Still, I'll be optimistic and say that we'll keep things tight and somehow escape with a 0-0 draw.