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Reading - QPR (Championship) - Match Preview

This match doesn't really need a preview, as fans of both sides - and every other team in the Championship - know just how big the outcome of this game could be. Two big guns, two relegated sides, two fanbases with high expectations... and it's live on the cameras at 12.15 on Saturday.

Richard Heathcote

Form Guide

Reading QPR
L 2-5 Sheffield Wednesday (A)
W 2-1 Derby County (H)
D 1-1 Millwall (H)
D 0-0 Wigan Athletic (A)
W 4-1 Doncaster Rovers (H)
L 0-2 Burnley (A)
L 1-2 Burnley (A) D 2-2 Millwall (A)
D 1-1 Barnsley (A) W 2-0 Barnsley (H)
W 2-0 Birmingham City (H) W 2-0 Middlesbrough (H)
W 3-1 Derby County (A) W 1-0 Yeovil (A)
5th - 23 points, GD +5 3rd- 31 points, GD +9

After such a good September - three wins, one draw, just one goal conceded - it was somewhat of a crash to earth in October for the Royals, whilst November's first result was truly abysmal. In the last 5 games, Reading have played four bottom-7 teams - one win (Doncaster), two draws (Millwall & Barnsley) and one defeat (Sheffield Wednesday) is not the set of results the fans expected or desired. Hopefully the team will be given time to gel and find their identity, but now seems like the worst time all season to face Queen's Park Rangers, especially on the telly.

Meanwhile QPR have made a flying start to the season, with 9 wins and just 1 defeat in their 14 games so far - and that loss came at Turf Moor against the high-flying Burnley. Whilst they're getting the results, the fans might not be getting the amount of goals they want for how much they're paying - just sixteen scored and seven conceded all season for the R's. Only four times this campaign have both teams scored in a QPR game, while just two have seen more than two goals.

Head To Head

A good home record for Reading in this fixture will delight the Royals fans, who will be feeling less confident after the results of recent weeks. But in forty meetings between the sides in Berkshire, Reading have won 25, with 7 games going the way of the Fake Hoops.

I mentioned that QPR games have had a lack of goals this season, and the same is true of the Reading-QPR fixture in recent years. The last four meetings at the Mad Stad have seen just two goals, one in a QPR victory in 2011 and the other for a Royals win in 2010. Last year was pretty abysmal, as a dour 0-0 draw sealed the fate of both sides with relegation from the Premier League beckoning. Still, these trends have to end sometime... right...?

Team News

Still very up in the air for Nigel Adkins - Royals fans might get frustrated by the lack of injury news released by the club, but it's likely that the manager doesn't even know who's fit until the day before! Billy Sharp has had a few more weeks of training and could replace Adam Le Fondre and Hal Robson-Kanu up front, whilst Wayne Bridge has been given time to recover after Stephen Kelly replaced him up at Hillsborough.

The injury list has been stacking up though, and Danny Williams' recent setback means he won't be back in time for tomorrow's match. That adds him to a list which includes Royston Drenthe, Mikele Leigertwood, Jem Karacan and Jason Roberts.

But the Rangers physio is just as busy, and Alejandro Faurlin's cruciate injury last week saw him join Bobby Zamora, Tom Carroll, Niko Kranjcar and Nedum Onuoha in the treatment room. Shaun Derry may have been on loan at Millwall, but he has left QPR permanently to become player-manager at Notts County.

Likely Lineups

Reading: McCarthy; Gunter, Pearce, Morrison, Bridge; McAnuff, Guthrie, Baird, McCleary; Sharp, Pogrebnyak

QPR: Green; Simpson, Dunne, Hill, Assou-Ekotto; Hoilett, Jenas, Barton, Henry, Phillips; Austin

The Ref

Anthony Taylor is the man who will almost certainly be the subject of torrents of abuse from angry fans, which will set a good example in a match beamed live across the world. He took charge of three Reading matches last season - a 5-2 defeat at home to Arsenal, a 3-1 loss at Goodison Park against Everton, and a 3-1 victory of our own at Crawley in the FA Cup. QPR lost every game under his stewardship last term, though they were against Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool. So far this season, Taylor has shown 26 yellows and 1 red in 7 matches.

Best Odds

Reading 9/5

Draw 12/5

Doncaster 7/4

The Tilehurst End Prediction

It could all be doom and gloom for Reading fans after recent results have been dismal, but there's reason to be optimistic, as QPR have been grinding results out without truly impressing. The Royals have their first chance since Watford to play a contender at home, and remember that it was only a lucky deflection which salvaged the Hornets a point that day. This will be tense and nervy, and certainly not the sort of game that TV companies expected to be broadcasting when making their selections. I'm going for a 1-1 draw, and right now I think Royals fans would take that.