The magic of the FA Cup has sent Reading on the long journey to Sheffield in the next chapter of this quite frankly uninspiring season. They take on a out-of-form Sheffield Wednesday in this all-Championship showdown for a place in the next round! Both sides last season battled tooth and nail to get into the play-off final but now are a complete shadow of their former selves.
So it can be argued that the cup run can be used as a positive distraction to raise the spirits of fans and players alike, or can be seen as a hindrance instead of fixing the poor league form which both teams are suffering with. Will tonight be the tie of the round or will it be another 90 minutes of disappointing football?
Form (all competitions): LDDWL
Since the last preview, Reading provided another uninspiring performance in the league against Brentford who once again proved to be our bogey team by snatching victory late into the match! Pressure from the crowd is beginning to rise once more for the manager’s departure.
The club so far are still providing positive backing to Stam and have dismissed any talk of sacking him. Injuries again have pilled up with McShane, Swift and Richards all being confirmed to miss Friday’s game with fitness problems. Despite this mini crisis, there are no new signings on the horizon which is beginning to worry some fans.
This means Reading could give starts to fringe players such as Adrian Popa & Ilori while also packing the midfield to make up for the fact there is a depleted defence. A win will massively boost the team who in the league are sliding down the Championship table at an alarming rate!
Top goalscorer: Modou Barrow (7)
Form (all competitions): LDDWD
Like Reading, Wednesday sit near the foot of the table in a miserable 17th place. Their summer transfer window spending can be viewed as a shambles as signings haven’t paid back the huge investment for one of the favourites to return to the play-offs. They still possess a deadly front line in the form of Gary Hooper and Jordan Rhodes, both of whom were linked to Reading during the Anton Zingarevich era of 2012-2014/15.
However, despite having a formidable strike force, Wednesday have only scored two goals in six games in all competitions. Friday could be another frustrating performance in front of goal but with Reading’s stretched defence it could provide chances the strikers have been craving.
Top goalscorer: Gary Hooper (11)
What do the stats say?
• Reading have successfully progressed to the fifth round in the last six fourth round ties they have been involved in.
• Wednesday have had horrible luck against opposition in the same league, losing nine out of 11 games they have played.
• A defeat for Reading will equal the amount of defeats they suffered in the entirety of the 2016/17 campaign (we still haven’t finished January yet!)
• Bodvarsson is currently Reading’s only FA Cup goal scorer this campaign with his hat- trick against Stevenage.
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 no 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.
Scoreline prediction: Sheffield Wednesday 0-1 Reading