After a twenty day absence from The Madejski Stadium, The Royals return home to play promotion-chasing Derby County. Jaap Stam’s men have used the break to train in Spain in the hope of remaining fit and getting inspiration for the long season ahead. However, the mood in the stadium still possesses a gloomy atmosphere as supporters are worrying when the bad form will end.
The draw against Nottingham Forrest on Tuesday night places Reading 18th in the table, four points above the relegation zone. Will Reading be rejuvenated after their mid-season break or will the relegation form continue?
Form (all competitions): LWLLD
The dilemma facing the manager this week is in the striker department - at the time of writing Jon Dadi Bödvarsson is the only eligible and fit senior striker currently at the club. Chris Martin is ineligible to face his current club due to his loan agreement and Yann Kermorgant has a calf injury.
Although Yann is classed as a doubt he will likely not be risked and Bödvarsson will start with Sam Smith being named on the bench. The Icelandic international is now Reading’s top goalscorer in all competitions with eight goals, coming out at an average of 140 minutes per goal.
John Swift is reported to back in training and could be selected after six weeks out through injury. One to watch on Saturday is Omar Richards who had an impressive performance against Forest in mid-week, scoring his first goal for the club.
Top goalscorer: Jon Dadi Bödvarrson, 8(all competitions)
Form (all competitions): DWDLD
While Derby are currently flying high in fourth position in the league, their recent form has not made them completely secure in the top six. They haven’t had back-to-back wins since early December where they won five out of six games and were unbeaten the entire month.
Former Reading Striker Matej Vydra could start this weekend but has been reported to be struggling with illness. The Czech international is currently the league’s top goalscorer with 17 goals, which Reading fans hoped he could achieve in his short spell in Reading.
If he is missing then their next highest goalscorer is David Nugent who is a doubt for the game through injury. A win for Derby will put them in touching distance of the top two while a defeat could see them drop a place if results go against them on the day.
Top goalscorer: Matej Vydra, 18 (all comps)
What do the stats say?
- Reading have lost their last four games at home and have not scored in the last three.
- Currently Reading have the worst points over the last ten games by winning one, drawing three and losing six.
- Derby have a good record playing at the Madejski as they are unbeaten in the last five games with two wins and three draws.
- After Vydra there is a 11 goal gap to Derby’s next highest goalscorer (Nugent). In contrast, Reading only have a gap of one with Bödvarsson on eight and Barrow on seven.
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.
This game’s prediction hinges heavily on what both teams put out. If Reading play a similar team to the one that played Forest then they could cope with Derby’s midfield and strike force. However, an injury to Bödvarrson or lack of options on the bench could see the Royals struggle in front of goal resulting in a nervy draw.
Derby are in a similar boat as they are hoping both Vydra & Nugent pass fitness tests before the game. But rolling the dice on their fitness could cause more damage long term and allow Reading to hold the advantage on the day. Derby are prone to late collapses in their season despite having very promising squads in past seasons.
Based on the facts available I feel the Royals could get lucky here with a win but, again like Derby, Reading are prone to giving up a winning position late on.
Reading 1-0 Derby County