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Key Battles: Reading FC v Derby County

Reading are looking to bounce back on Saturday following their disastrous 4-1 defeat at Brentford in midweek. Derby on the other hand are on a high following their 2-0 win at Cardiff on Tuesday. So where will the key battles be played out?

Derby's main dangerman Will Hughes
Derby's main dangerman Will Hughes
Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Using the information supplied to me by some very helpful Derby fans on Twitter, here are the three key battles that I think both Reading and Derby fans should look out for.

Chris Gunter vs Ikechi Anya

Signed from Watford in the summer for a reported fee of £4 million, Anya has been one of Derby's better players in what's been a terrible start to the season. Not only are Derby near the relegation zone, but also their manager Nigel Pearson was suspended this week, reportedly following a dispute with club owner and chairman Mel Morris.

Anya though has been the brightest spark for The Rams so far this season with one goal and one assist to his name. According to Derby fan @JackhFootball on Twitter, the Scot and teammate Tom Ince are typically tricky wingers:

It will be Chris Gunter's job to stop Anya from getting shots away and stop him from crossing the ball. It is worth noting that both fullbacks Chris Gunter and Jordan Obita have had problems in dealing with talented wingers this season. The games against Newcastle at St James' Park and Brighton at the Madejski both spring to mind, where Matt Ritchie and Anthony Knockaert gave the Reading defence a torrid time.

If Gunter can contain Anya, then this will put Reading in good shape, as they look to bounce back with a win in front of the Reading faithful.

Here is a video demonstrating what Anya is capable of doing.

Joey van den Berg vs Will Hughes

21-year-old Hughes has been at the club throughout his career, having come through the Derby academy. Since bursting on the scene a few years ago, Hughes has been one of the most talked about centre midfielders in the Championship. Brilliant performances in his first two seasons at Championship level saw him linked with English football's biggest clubs including Manchester United and Arsenal.

After suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury early last season, Hughes is back to full fitness and finally ready to show his potential once again. According to Derby fan @21stCscribe on Twitter, Hughes is Derby's most creative player:

This is evident in that when Hughes last played a full season (2014/15), he got two goals and six assists to his name. Perhaps Joey van den Berg is the best person to deal with Hughes. Since playing further forward in the holding role in front of the back four, Van Den Berg has arguably played his best games for the Royals. As Reading fans have already seen, van den Berg has the ability to break play up and get a tackle in when needed.

He'll also take one for the team if it means the opposition get a free kick instead of a clear cut opportunity being created. Van den Berg will have to close the space down and stop Hughes from getting time on the ball. If Hughes gets time, he is very much capable of creating a defence splitting pass. But if van den Berg can disrupt the youngster's game, then hopefully this should stop the supply from the midfield to the strikers.

Here's a video of Will Hughes showcasing his talents.

Yann Kermorgant vs Richard Keogh

The Republic of Ireland international is the captain and leader of the Rams. Last season the centre back kept 19 clean sheets as Derby finished in the play off places. @JackhFootball on Twitter says Keogh is one of the most committed footballers you'll see:

From this it is clear that Keogh is one of those players that just love to defend. He reminds me of Paul McShane and former Reading player Alex Pearce, players that just want to give everything and play for the shirt. This could lead to a fascinating battle between striker Kermorgant and defender Keogh, with both looking to command the skies and win the aerial battle for their sides.

Where do you think the key battles will be played out on Saturday? Let us know your thoughts.