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Reading FC v Watford FC: Match Preview

New manager Steve Clarke takes charge of his first Reading FC game as Watford visit Madejski Stadium on Saturday; Phil Owtram provides a preview of the game.

Ker Robertson/Getty Images

Reading FC v Watford FC
League Championship
Saturday 20th December 2014, KO 3PM
Madejski Stadium
Referee: Gavin Ward

Reading (14th)

Form (all comps): LDWLL
Birmingham v Reading: 6-1
Reading v Bolton: 0-0
Norwich v Reading: 1-2
Cardiff v Reading: 2-1
Reading v Charlton: 0-1

Manager: Steve Clarke

After an eventful week for the Royals, which saw Nigel Adkins lose his job following the 6-1 defeat to Birmingham City on Saturday, Steve Clarke comes in as the new man at the helm and takes charge of his first game for the visit of Watford on Saturday. A poor first half of the season culminated in a 6-1 defeat for the Royals at St. Andrew's on Saturday and was the final straw as far as the Reading board were concerned as they lost patience with Adkins and sacked him on Monday afternoon.

New boss Steve Clarke immediately comes in after a year away from the game following his sacking from West Brom. Supporters will be hoping he can inject some life into a team that has struggled to find any sort of form this season. The visit of 6th placed Watford to the Madejski Stadium will prove a tough first assignment, as they are one of the six teams that has tussled for top spot during the first half of the season. Steve Clarke has been given 25 games to make a success of this season and he himself refused to rule out a promotion push in 2015. Let’s hope he’s not being over confident!

Watford (6th)
Form (all comps): WWLLL
Watford v Wigan: 2-1
Fulham v Watford: 0-5
Watford v Cardiff: 0-1
Watford v Derby: 1-2
Ipswich v Watford: 1-0

Manager: Slavisa Jokanovic

6th placed Watford visit the Madejski as their form picks up following a run of four defeats which ended two games ago. The hornets have won their last two Championship matches, away to Fulham and most recently at home to Wigan. The former result was a thumping 5-0 win and one which highlighted the talent that exists in this team. Top scorer (9) Troy Deeney bagged a hat-trick while Almen Abdi was one behind as he scored two and they will both be danger men at the Madejski on Saturday, as will their second highest scorer (7) Matej Vydra.

Watford are the joint second highest scorers in the Championship this season alongside Derby on 38 (Bournemouth have scored the most Championship goals this season with 44). This team has talent all over the pitch and it will take all of Steve Clarke’s coaching know-how to set his new side up to stop the threats that Watford clearly possess.

Last five meetings
11 Jan 2014 Watford v Reading W 0-1 League Championship
17 Aug 2013 Reading v Watford D 3-3 League Championship
14 Jan 2012 Watford v Reading W 1-2 League Championship
10 Sep 2011 Reading v Watford L 0-2 League Championship
19 Feb 2011 Reading v Watford D 1-1 League Championship

Saturday’s game will be the 115th meeting between these two sides in all competitions. Both sides have identical records with 44 wins a piece and 26 draws. Their last 10 meetings have all been in the Championship of which Reading have won three, Watford two and there have been five draws. Last season they played out an exciting 3-3 draw at Madejski Stadium during which Reading had established a 3-1 lead only to be pegged back to 3-3 in the 90th minute. The game at Vicarage Road saw the Royals win 1-0 thanks to a Kaspars Gorkss goal. You have to go back to January 2009 for the last Royals win at Madejski Stadium when they put 4 past the Hornets during the 08/09 season.

Team News
Reading: Reading received a boost as long-term absentees Danny Guthrie and Jem Karacan both came through full training sessions on Thursday unscathed. Although they won't be ready to face Watford this weekend both could be involved in the Boxing Day trip to Brighton. Pavel Pogrebnyak is still struggling with a calf injury, while Jamie Mackie is also still sidelined. Anton Ferdinand is out of this weekend’s game and is still some weeks away but Craig Tanner is edging closer to a return.

Watford: Watford will be without long-term absentee Gabriel Tamas while goalkeeper Jonathan Bond faces a late fitness test but apart from that the Hornets have a full bill of health.

Prediction: Reading 1-1 Watford