Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a relaxing break with family and friends and are ready for the second half of the season! Reading ended 2017 with another disappointing result thanks to a draw against Barnsley despite leading up until injury time. All of us here at the Tilehurst End hope that 2018 is the year we get our prolific form back. Birmingham City travel down to the Mad Stad under the floodlights for our first game of 2018.
Form (all competitions): DLLLD
Yann Kermorgant finally returned to the scoresheet with his towering header last game which will likely prompt Stam to keep him leading the line up front, whilst Liam Kelly and John Swift could make full returns from their injuries and illnesses to boost the depleted midfield.
Similarly Tyler Blackett, George Evans, Garath McCleary and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson have all been in and out of the team this season but did feature at Oakwell. They will all be pressing to be involved in Tuesday night’s starting XI.
The Royals are still to win a home game since the 3-0 victory over Barnsley on November 28 - should they fail to do so, Jaap Stam will be under a lot of pressure. However, three points would be a big boost to the under-fire gaffer.
Top goalscorer: Modou Barrow, 7 (all competitions)
Form (all competitions): LLDLW
It’s fair to say Birmingham had a worst year than us in 2017! Bottom of the league by Christmas, a new manager and an overwhelming number of new signings have not clicked! Harry Redknapp’s vision has severely backfired and has left them in a perilous position of being rooted to the bottom of the table.
Steve Cotterill hasn’t had much luck either but they did end the year by beating Leeds United which I’m sure most Reading fans were pleased to see! As a result Birmingham could name the same team that won against the Lilywhites in order to try and build on that good result. Jota, a record signing from Brentford in the summer, could start against Reading having been on the bench last time out.
Top goalscorer: Che Adams, 5 (all competitions)
What do the stats say?
- Birmingham are unbeaten in three league matches at the Madejski Stadium (W2 D1), keeping three clean sheets.
- The Royals have lost one of their last 16 home matches in January in all competitions (W11 D4).
- Birmingham have won two of their last 27 away matches in all competitions and failed to win any of their 12 this season (W0 D3 L9).
- Reading have not conceded in any of their last three league matches against Birmingham since Jaap took charge (0-0, 0-1, 0-2).
How can I follow the game?
Audio is on BBC Radio Berkshire at 104.4, but not available online. Coverage is also available on the EFL iFollow service but there will be no video streaming for the game. Full match highlights will be available on the app after full time.
Reading Football Club will also post highlights on their respected social media pages and YouTube channel.
I think this will be a game where Reading can finally regain their form as Birmingham are a team in trouble and have a terrible away record that will play on the minds of the players. Birmingham will be able to use the window to turn their season around but currently are stuck in a horrible rut.
However, Reading as we know are prone to gifting struggling teams unexpected wins so we can’t be too optimistic. But we are at home with a refreshed squad so hopefully we should provide a good performance!
Reading 2-0 Birmingham City