Reading FC vs Hull City, EFL Championship
Madejski Stadium, 3pm KO
A midweek Carabao Cup exit at the hands of Swansea City was disappointing if not somewhat expected and with no win in three games now, Jaap Stam will be desperate to get three points on the board against a struggling Hull City to ease the early season nerves.
Stam would have looked at Bristol City at home and Brentford away and marked them as a potential four points, if not all six, so to come away with just one is heavily frustrating. A win here is crucial to end this slump before it spirals into a crisis.
Form (all comps): L/W/L/D/L
One win in five games is a poor return for any side, but Stam will be boosted by the return of Jordan Obita, who completed 60 minutes in midweek against Swansea after a cameo substitute appearance at Griffin Park. The left-back picked up an injury during the pre-season defeat to Vitesse but is finally back fit and likely to replace Tyler Blackett in the backline after some shaky performances from the former Manchester United man.
Modou Barrow was absent from the squads for the Brentford and Swansea games, provoking questions as to his exclusion from the side. Stam confirmed the winger has sustained a minor knee injury and will miss this weekend’s clash with Hull City, but could return for the trip to The Den on Tuesday night. Roy Beerens has impressed in recent games and could be in line to take his place.
Joseph Mendes and Yann Kermorgant are both out, meaning Jon Dadi Bodvarsson is almost certain to play through the centre. The Icelandic international has earned some criticism with his recent performances but hopefully, his goal return will spike once he fully settles into Stam’s system.
Elsewhere, Tennai Watson is close to a return but will have a tough task on his hands leapfrogging Chris Gunter in the pecking order. John Swift is also back fit, but with Leandro Bacuna impressing on Tuesday night and Liam Kelly one of the first names on the team sheet, the former Chelsea man will face stiff competition for places.
Form (all comps) L/W/L/L/D
Leonid Slutsky would have viewed last weekend’s clash with Sunderland as a must-win, so to come out of a home game against a side winless in six on a four-game losing streak with just a draw would’ve been incredibly frustrating for the former CSKA Moscow manager.
This encounter marks Michael Hector’s return to the Madejski Stadium. The Jamaican international had a loan spell at Frankfurt last season after joining Chelsea the previous year and signed on loan with The Tigers this summer. A graduate of the Reading academy, Hector will receive a warm reception from the home fans and is likely to feature at the heart of The Tigers’ defence.
In terms of injury news, Abel Hernandez is out for the season with a ruptured Achilles, as are Will Keane, Moses Odubajo and Brazilian winger Evandro. 28-year-old defender Ondrej Mazuch is back fit and available for selection but may have to settle for a place on the bench.
David Meyler is expected to return to the midfield ahead of Markus Henriksen. With Jon Toral, Jackson Irvine and Seb Larsson all waiting in the wings, Leonid Slutsky is still yet to discover his best midfield.
What do the stats say?
Decade of Hurt
· The Royals haven’t beaten Hull for over a decade – you’ll have to go back to 2005 to find the last time we faced The Tigers and came away with three points. Reading’s previous four encounters with Hull have all ended in defeat, although Stam will hope to end this 12-year duck against Hull this weekend with all three points.
· Only Bolton (4) and Birmingham (4) have scored less goals than Reading this term, and they sit 24th and 23rd in the table respectively. With Jon Dadi Bodvarsson misfiring and Yann Kermorgant still a month away from his return, The Royals need a fresh source of goals.
Problems on the Road
· If there is anything to fill you with confidence ahead of this weekend’s game, Hull City are yet to avoid defeat on the road this season in all competitions and were trounced 5-0 by a Matej Vydra led Derby County a couple of weeks back. Leonid Slutsky will be anxious to put an end to his side’s troubles on the road.
What about the history?
Head to Head
Hull City: 17
Past 5 Meetings
22 January 2011: Reading 1-1 Hull City (EFL Championship)
27 August 2011: Hull City 1-0 Reading (EFL Championship)
21 January 2012: Reading 0-1 Hull City (EFL Championship)
16 December 2015: Hull City 2-1 Reading (EFL Championship)
19 April 2016: Reading 1-2 Hull City (EFL Championship)
Reading 1-1 Hull City, 22nd January 2011, Madejski Stadium
As far as Reading’s encounters will The Tigers go, there’s not usually too much to write home about, but this clash six years ago went on to be fairly significant on the road to Reading’s eventual 4-2 defeat to Swansea under the arch at Wembley in the Play-Off Final.
Jimmy Kebe had an early penalty appeal waved away before Shane Long had a header well saved by Brad Guzan in the Hull City goal. Ian Harte gifted the visitors the lead on the other side of half-time with his tame header back to Adam Federici intercepted by half-time substitute Corry Evans, who rounded the Aussie and tapped home into an empty net.
With 12 minutes left on the clock, Brad Guzan brought down Shane Long in the box and Ian Harte calmly dispatched the penalty to draw the scores level and avenge his earlier mistake. The draw closed the gap between Reading and the top six to just two points.
How can I follow the game?
There will be audio coverage of the game on BBC Berkshire at 104.4FM. For Reading fans living abroad, you’ll be able to watch the full game on iFollow.
There is undoubtedly plenty of talent across both of these squads but this game represents a clash between two sides yet to hit top gear at any point this season.
The visitors have the firepower of Championship Young Player of the Month Jarrod Bowen and Polish international winger Kamil Grosicki at their disposal, whilst Liam Kelly and Leandro Bacuna are developing a solid partnership for The Royals.
You never quite know what Reading performance you’re going to see at the moment, but with no real threat going forward, it’s hard to see us blowing Hull away. A draw looks the most likely outcome.