It's the big one - for the second season running! Reading take to the quarter finals of the cup this week, as they play host to Premier League side Crystal Palace, and after hitting 3/3 on Bookie Watch for the away game in mid week at Huddersfield and a solid 2/3 at home to Fulham, we look to move on and try and continue our winning streak.
Reading come into the game as expected underdogs, going in at 23/10 to win in 90 minutes. Palace are a best price of 8/13 to qualify, with odds of 7/5 for them to do that in 90 minutes. Reading can still be found at 13/8 to qualify. If you fancy a draw, the odds on a replay back at Selhurst Park can currently be found at 12/5. To call out a winner from this game is a tough ask - Reading, despite their underdog status, have had an excellent record at home this season, losing just four games in all competitions so far, having played 21 home games, winning seven and drawing seven. Palace come into the game on a horrid run of form, having not won in 12, including 6 away games (league form only).
Which teams to score?
The last game Palace kept a clean sheet in outside of the two cup wins in recent weeks was way back in December. Reading should be able to push on and get a goal in this game at the very least - given that their recent record shows there are goals to be scored when going for it (Charlton, West Brom & Walsall all recent examples of this). However, this isn't to say they can't get goals at the right end as well, having scored at least once in their last ten games in all competitions now. Therefore the first bet that we are going to take for the Palace game is going to be Both Teams to Score at 10/11. For those willing to take on a bit more risk, Reading are 6/1 with both to score, and Palace sit at 17/4 with both teams to score. A score draw is available at 15/4.
Palace's last five losses (out of their last seven matches) have seen them lose each time by a single goal. Reading have struggled at points to 'kill off' teams this season - Fulham at home last weekend proved that point. That occasion, Reading succumbed and conceded, however it did appear that Reading may have been quite happy to take that game 2-1 had they led longer into the half. Therefore a winning margin for Reading of one goal at 4/1 is another small bet that I'll be taking for this Friday's match-up.
Goalscorer bets are a tough look when looking at a big cup match, with both teams set to play a full strength side, the top of the goalscorer charts are full of players such as Connor Wickham (11/2) and Adebayor (11/2). The Reading line-up is tough to predict, with McDermott leaving Vydra (7/1) out of the side on Tuesday night. It is unknown whether he is fit enough to start on Friday, or if he will play a bit part from the bench, so I'll move past him . With the pace that Wilfried Zaha has, and the potential of Yannick Bolasie playing also, I would be extremely concerned for one of the defenders to be outpaced and dive in for a tackle giving away a potential penalty. Therefore I would certainly consider looking at Yohan Cabaye at 9/1 for FGS.
Overall, Reading are the rank outsiders for the competition at a very long 55/1. The value is probably there on that, however I can't imagine many Reading fans, being the pessimistic bunch we are, will want to back that! However, odds of 18/1 to finish 2nd, and 16/1 to reach the final are not bad. This would suggest qualification odds for Reading in the semi final to lie at just over 5/1. Now if Reading were to get a lucky draw, and perhaps draw Watford or a faltering Everton side in the semi final, would a 20% chance of qualification sound out of the question? Probably not. 16/1 to reach the final is currently a nice bit of value on the Royals.
This weekend will probably be the make or break for Reading this season (for the second year running), so let's hope the Royals can defy the odds and reach their second consecutive semi-final appearance. Come on Urz!
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