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Key Battles: Newcastle United vs Reading

Reading play Newcastle for the first time since January 2013, when Reading won 2-1 St James' Park in one of the two away games that the team managed to win during the disastrous Premier League season. So where will the key battles be played out on Wednesday night as Reading return to the sixth biggest ground in England?

Can Chris Gunter stop this man from impacting the game?
Can Chris Gunter stop this man from impacting the game?
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Dwight Gayle vs Paul McShane

The Englishman who was signed from Crystal Palace for a reported fee of £10 million, scored his first goal for the Magpies during the 2-1 defeat against Huddersfield at the weekend.

Last season Gayle scored seven goals in 20 appearances for Crystal Palace, which is not bad for a striker who hardly got look in by his former boss, the man still disliked by many Reading fans, Alan Pardew.

Gayle has most of the attributes that a manager wants from a striker, pace, power, good technique and an eye for goal.What he lacks in height he makes up for it with his pace that can cause any defence problems. For that reason, it will be interesting to see as to how Paul McShane copes with the Newcastle man.

If he and Joey Van Der Berg can keep the forward quiet, then this will go a long way in Reading coming away with a positive result against the Magpies.

Don't forget this is the same player who all but ended Liverpool's title chances in 2013-14 by scoring a hat-trick in the final 20 minutes of the memorable 3-3 draw between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park when the Reds were 3-0 up.

Matt Ritchie vs Chris Gunter

This is a player that has caused many problems for Reading in the past. In the four games that Ritchie has played against Reading, the former Bournemouth man has scored three goals and has one assist to his name. If I was a betting man, then I would put money on him scoring once again.

Looking to stop him will be Chris Gunter, who has had a mixed start to the new season with two clean sheets in the first two games. But then the Welshman put in a horror show as Reading lost 2-0 in their first defeat of the new season against Wolves on Saturday.

It will be down Gunter to stop the crosses from coming into the penalty area and to stop Ritchie from impacting the game in his side's favour.

If Reading are to keep Ritchie quiet, then Gunter and the rest of the Reading defence will have to be at their absolute best to achieve this. If Gunter can do this then it will go a long way in Reading getting a positive result from the match, as they will be stopping one of the best left wingers in the Championship.

Jamaal Lascelles vs Yann Kermorgant

The centre back who was signed from Nottingham Forest in the summer of 2014 is Newcastle's new captain following the decision taken by manager Rafa Benitez this season.

Lascelles was one of Newcastle's better players last season and the decision to make him captain has been welcomed by the Newcastle faithful.

Looking to get a sniff at the Magpies goal will be Yann Kermorgant, a player in my view who will be key if Reading are to get a positive result on Wednesday night. With his height and strength, the Frenchman will be the striker up top that Reading will look for in order to win headers and hold the ball up, allowing his teammates to join the attack.

This will be a fascinating battle between Kermorgant and Lascelles mainly due to their height. Kermorgant is 6ft and 1/2in tall, while Lascelles is 6ft 2in tall. So it will be interesting as to who wins the headers from the long balls and crosses.