Tony Pulis takes his play-off contending team over 250 miles in a long trip the Madejski Stadium this Saturday, with the Teesside club looking to get back in form. While Boro battle it out at the top of the table, Reading are struggling to stay afloat at the bottom. A win is vital if the Royals want to drag themselves out of this relegation battle.
The last five
It has been a pretty miserable last five games for the Royals which pretty much sums up our season. The 1-1 draw against Rotherham United last Saturday did little to improve the morale amongst supporters, and it is vital they start picking up points now before they are plunged into even deeper trouble.
Forward Yakou Meite and defender John O’Shea are back in contention after short-term injury issues, while Callum Harriott and Adrian Popa are also able to stake their claims for a spot in the senior squad after getting minutes with the under-23s. Saeid Ezatolahi is close to a return after several weeks out, and fans will also be glad to hear that Liam Moore is making good progress with his recovery.
Middlebrough have endured quite a poor run of form, winning only one of their last five league games. This included a 3-0 home defeat to Aston Villa, where they were soundly beaten that night. They will need to get back into good form in order to secure their place in the top six, with other teams lurking around the play-off places.
Mo Besic returns to Championship action with Boro after serving a one-match suspension against QPR. George Friend is among a few Middlesbrough players who are in danger of being suspended if they pick up a booking in Saturday’s game, with four yellow cards this season.
10/2/2018: Middlesbrough 2-1 Reading
28/10/2017: Reading 0-2 Middlesbrough
12/4/2016: Middlesbrough 2-1 Reading
3/10/2015: Reading 2-0 Middlesbrough
10/1/2015: Reading 0-0 Middlesbrough
The Royals have lost their last three league meetings with Boro, so they will desperately be looking to turn the tide on Saturday, with the club looming worryingly around the relegation zone. Steve Clarke was the last Reading manager to overcome this weekend’s opponents. That result propelled Reading up to third at that time in the successful part of the 2015/16 season; Danny Williams scoring in the first minute in that 2-0 win.
- Reading have scored three more league goals than Middlesbrough this campaign so far.
- Reading have failed to score in three of their last five games.
- Middlesbrough have the best defensive record in the Championship so far this season, conceding just 16 goals in 22 league games.
- Boro have kept clean sheets in exactly half of their 22 league games this season, however none of those clean sheets have come in the last five games.
Despite Boro’s impressive defensive record, they have failed to score a enough goals to keep them comfortably in the play-off places. Their lack of potency and conviction in front of goal could cost them majorly towards the business end of this season if they do not start scoring more frequently.
Meanwhile, Reading will be looking for redemption after losing a late lead at the New York Stadium against Rotherham United last Saturday.
Middlesbrough’s Carabao Cup loss to Burton Albion on Tuesday will have probably been disadvantageous for them in terms of fatigue, combined with the fact that they have to make the long journey to Berkshire.
I would have predicted a Middlesbrough win if they did not have that midweek fixture, but Reading will most likely be the more refreshed side on Saturday. With the away side’s solid defence, I predict a goalless draw between the two sides. I hope this is not the case, let’s hope for goals galore! Hopefully the Royals come out on top, but I just can not see this happening this weekend.
Reading 0-0 Middlesbrough