Villa come to town under the lights at the Madejski Stadium to test Jaap Stam’s Reading after their collapse at Fulham. Both teams once of Premier League status face off in a fixture at the bottom of the table, which does have huge significance despite it being so early into the season.
Both teams need to make statements tonight or risk falling further behind in the race to gain top six. A win for either tonight could bring them up to mid table depending on results on the night.
Form (all competitions): LWD
Reading have not yet found their flow in the division after disappointing results against QPR & Fulham. Despite registering a win in the Carabao Cup against Gillingham, The Royals struggled to fully kill off the game until the 80th minute. New signing Leandro Bacuna has been brought in this week from Villa to add depth in the midfield still left by Danny Williams. If selected, he will likely have a point to prove against his former employers.
Injury problems still plague the squad especially in the striker department with Joseph Mendes being the only fit senior striker. But Mendes will hope to replicate his stand out performance against Villa last season. Stam in his interview to BBC Radio Berkshire on Saturday said that both McCleary and Beerens are back to full training and could be involved at some point in the game. Both have been nursing injuries from last season and will add great options on the wing. Liam Kelly is currently Reading’s most prolific player at the moment with three goals in the last two appearances for Reading.
Form (all competitions): DWL
Like Reading, Aston Villa have yet to kick-start their season despite investing heavily during the summer window. Bringing players in like John Terry has shown their intentions to bring Premier League standard back to Villa Park this season. But unlike other teams in the Division like Wolves, Middlesbrough who also big, Villa are in the bottom part of the table. The Cardiff result last weekend added to their misery where they fell to a 3-0 defeat despite holding 65% possession only registering one shot on target according to BBC Sport stats.
Very much like Reading the injury list is growing with key players such as Jonathon Kodjia & Ahmed Elmohamdy nursing injuries with no clear return date. But they still possess a dominating presence on the pitch especially upfront with the partnership of Gabby Agbonlahor & Scott Hogan. Steve Bruce’s men are targeting a return to the Premier League and will hope to be in the mix throughout the season. However last season Villa did invest heavily in the transfer window but did not start firing on all cylinders until the latter part of the season where it was too late to catch the top six.
What do the stats say?
- Aston Villa do have an impressive record over Reading having won 10 out of their last 12 meetings with them. The other two results were losses in 2007 and recently in April 2017.
- Reading still boast the best home record in the division in the Championship having only lost to QPR in January during this calendar year. A record they hope to defend against one of the most established teams in English football history.
- Both sides have a recent poor clean sheet record with Reading last recording a competitive clean sheet against Fulham & Huddersfield in the play off campaign in May, while Villa last recorded a clean sheet against bitter rivals Birmingham City on April 23rd 2017.
What about the history?
Head to Head Since 1912
Aston Villa: 16
Last five meetings
7th March 2010: Reading 2 Aston Villa 4 (FA Cup)
27th November 2012: Aston Villa 1 Reading 0 (Premier League)
9th March 2013: Reading 1 Aston Villa 2 (Premier League)
18th October 2016: Reading 1 Aston Villa 2 (Championship)
15th April 2017: Aston Villa 1 Reading 3 (Championship)
Classic meeting: Aston Villa 1-3 Reading, 15th April 2017
A Joseph Mendes masterclass powered Reading to an important win which helped secure their position in the play off race. The French striker who was absent for most of the season with injury or poor form scored early in both halves. His link up play with Bournemouth loanee Lewis Grabban terrorised Steve Bruce’s men all afternoon.
Villa did threaten in the first half with a James Chester header but defensive mistakes let Mendes have two on the day and enabled Grabban to score his first for the club from the penalty spot to secure a vital three points for the Royals. Reading would go on to secure play off status with Aston Villa missing out on a return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
How can I follow the game?
Audio coverage is on BBC Radio Berkshire at 104.4, but not available online. Coverage is also available on the EFL iFollow service but not video coverage will be streaming the game. Full match highlights will be available on the app after the game
Reading Football Club will post highlights of the game on their respected social media pages and YouTube channel
Tonight will be a tough game for both teams as they seek to record their first win the league this year. Either side can’t afford to drop points this early into the season to fulfil their top six ambitions. Judging on recent form and with the home advantage I have to go with Reading will edging this one. It won’t be easy as Aston Villa have the potential to upset on the night if their squad are playing to full potential.
Reading 2-1 Aston Villa