After a much-needed 2-0 win against Nottingham Forest last Saturday, the Royals face another East Midlands outfit in Derby County this weekend. Frank Lampard has settled in well to the Championship, and will be hoping that his Rams can pick up another three points against Reading to consolidate their place in the top six.
The last five (league games)
Derby County: DLWDL
The Rams will be fatigued after their FA Cup replay on Wednesday night against Southampton, but also boosted by a big return. Harry Wilson should be in contention for a start against the Royals after recovering from a hip injury sustained on New Year's Day against Middlesbrough. However, Tom Lawrence won't be involved.
Derby have hit a dodgy spell of form after their very strong start to the season. They will need to pick up more than five points from five games if they want to retain their place in the promotion mix. They have a reasonably favourable run of fixtures coming up, so that might be their opportunity to assert their position within the play-off places.
Vito Mannone, Marc McNulty and David Meyler will not be in the squad after reportedly featuring in a list of players the Royals are trying to move on. Lewis Baker and Ovie Ejaria remain in contention for a start after making their debuts last week, with the former featuring off the bench in the 2-0 win against Nottingham Forest. Meanwhile, Saeid Ezatolahi, Jordan Obita, Callum Harriott, Yakou Meite and Paul McShane are likely to remain out through injury.
Despite multiple promising performances under Jose Gomes, the Royals have only won once in their last five games. However, their win and clean sheet against Nottingham Forest last weekend should give them the confidence to put in another solid performance. It remains to be seen whether that happens.
3/8/2018: Reading 1-2 Derby County
24/2/2018: Reading 3-3 Derby County
4/11/2017: Derby County 2-4 Reading
21/1/2017: Derby County 3-2 Reading
1/10/2016: Reading 1-1 Derby County
The last meeting between the two sides ended in heartbreak for the Royals, coming in the first game of this season. A 94th-minute header from Tom Lawrence gave Derby the win over an unfortunate Royals side that showed a lot of promise in that game with a lightning fast start.
Reading’s only win in the last five meetings was in the torrid 2017-18 season. The Royals went 3-0 up with goals from Liam Moore, Sone Aluko and Roy Beerens before Mo Barrow sealed the victory to make it 4-1. A late goal from Derby wasn’t enough to prevent the Royals taking all three points back to Berkshire.
- Derby County have a goal difference of only +4, despite their placement of sixth in the league table. Very 2016-17 Reading-esque.
- Reading have kept two clean sheets in their five games under Jose Gomes. Hopefully we can make that three clean sheets in six after Saturday.
- The Rams have conceded a total of 15 more goals this season in the league than the team one place above them in the table, Middlesbrough.
- Meanwhile Reading have scored 12 more league goals this season than Bolton, with the Royals only being one place above them in the relegation zone.
Despite the Royals’ much improved performances recently under Jose Gomes, I can’t help thinking that this game is just a step too far for them. Derby County will be looking to react after their 2-0 defeat to Leeds United in the aftermath of ‘spy-gate’. However, they will be slightly fatigued after their FA Cup replay against Southampton.
I think Reading will lose this one, but only by a small margin. The way that the Royals are playing suits this group of players; a passing philosophy with purpose. Hopefully I can be proved wrong about the scoreline! Reading never fail to amaze us, whether that’s good or bad…
Derby County 1-0 Reading