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Reading FC vs Watford - 3 Festive Things To Look Out For...

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Bobbins dons his Santa Claus hat and doles out his three (hopefully glad) tidings for Steve Clarke's first tie as Reading manager against play-off positioned, Watford.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

'Tis the eve of The Royals first home fixture of the usually all-important Christmas fixtures. The dawn of a new era begins with Steve Clarke taking the helm for the first time. Reading will also want to slay the demon of the result that we dare not speak its name from last weekend. We lost, or something...moving on, nothing to see here, as you were.

1) Avoiding another slice of Turkey

All Reading fans will want from this game is the vital three points, but it certainly won't be an easy task against a Watford side that have won their last two games away from home, including a 5-0 spanking of Fulham to boot. The hosts were in damage limitation mode after having their goalkeeper sent off, but still, with a striker like Troy Deeney on-form Reading's perilous defence will need to have a rare turn of form. The Hornets tend to sting often, only failing to unwrap (sorry!) the defence just four times in the Championship this season. Unsurprisingly, they also have the fourth best goal difference in the division at +15. Only chart toppers Bournemouth and Middlesbrough have also scored more.

2) A Clarke Cracker?

With just a few days of training with the squad in the locker, it would be too soon to expect any kind of stamp of authority from the new boss to appear. First and foremost he will have needed to instil some confidence into the defence against  the very potent visitors.  Could he draft Alex Pearce into the central defence and let the shell-shocked Jake Cooper return to the relative safety of the bench? On the other hand, Clarke may want to foster continuity and start with a clean slate. Pearce may have to force his way back in to the XI.

What we can safely assume is that the personnel themselves will be hardly be revolutionary. The choice of full-backs will be interesting, and who is the latest in the revolving door position on the left of midfield. Otherwise, Reading are bereft of options due to the continuing midfield injuries to Jem Karacan, Danny Guthrie, Hope Akpan and Jamie Mackie.


3) The return of the Christmas Tree formation?

Otherwise, it will be interesting to see what formation the new boss will choose, if our poll is anything to go by, he could revert to a simple 4-4-2, a default mode to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses. However, Clarke's philosophy with West Brom tended to be a 4-2-3-1 formation - one which we have utilised often this season, this could possibly be the weapon of choice with Simon Cox, who has briefly played under Clarke, playing behind Glenn Murray. Of  course, serious squad changes may have to wait until January and beyond.