Reading’s league season continues with the visit of Fulham at the Madejski Stadium this Tuesday, as the Royals look to build on a couple of positive results over the past week.
To take the Carabao Cup game to penalties against Wolverhampton Wanderers is a great achievement, despite Wolves fielding a slightly weakened side. This, combined with a draw against a high-flying Swansea City side at the weekend, has given Reading the platform to go on and get a few good results.
Despite this, the performances haven’t been the best recently. Can the Royals change that and go on to get a win in this mid-week game? A victory against Fulham could be the start of a very good run of results if they can perform to their maximum performance levels.
What? Championship Matchday 10
Where? Madejski Stadium
When? Tuesday 1st October (8pm KO)
The only win that Reading have picked up in the past five league games came against Huddersfield Town. Defeats against Charlton Athletic, Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers have left the club hovering just above the relegation zone. Although Reading stole a point away at the Liberty Stadium at the weekend, this impressive result wasn’t enough to lift the club away from the bottom three. A home win against a very capable side in Fulham will really lift the morale around Berkshire.
Jordan Obita could start again, after going off injured at the weekend with cramp. It’s very unlikely that it’ll keep him out of this fixture. Tyler Blackett also went off with an injury against Swansea, although Jose Gomes said that it didn’t look serious. Lucas Joao is being monitored ahead of Tuesday’s fixture, while Matt Miazga could start again after being rested at the weekend.
The recently relegated side would have hoped for a better start to this season after investing heavily in their attack. However, they may have to be patient with Scott Parker, who’s inexperienced as a professional manager. Anything lower than a playoff finish may be seen as a failure by the Fulham board. It’s crucial that Parker can turn draws in to wins. If they can, it could be a very successful season for the London side.
Anthony Knockaert, Tom Cairney, Ivan Cavaleiro and Aleksandar Mitrovic are the deadly attacking quartet who could damage the Royals’ defence if they’re all on song this Tuesday. All four started last weekend in their 2-0 home win against Wigan Athletic, with Cairney getting the second goal to secure victory.
The last meeting
Fulham 1-0 Reading
Only two of the Reading players that started at Craven Cottage in April 2017 are still playing regularly for the Royals. Vito Mannone, Sone Aluko and Mo Barrow have all gone out on loan, while Tiago Ilori, Liam Kelly, Leandro Bacuna, Dave Edwards and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson have left the club, with Chris Gunter playing for the under-23s. Liam Moore and Omar Richards, who also started that night, couldn’t prevent the Royals from losing yet another game in the 2017/18 season.
Fulham went on to win promotion via the playoffs, having secured a vital win against Reading in the latter stages of that season. Stefan Johansen’s finish from a Matt Targett cross ensured that Fulham would win all three points that night. This fixture came in the early stages of Paul Clement’s tenure, a match that would be made worse by Leandro Bacuna’s dismissal in stoppage time for a lunge on Ryan Sessegnon.
Referee (by Charlie Frost)
The man in the middle will be Andy Woolmer, 53, from Northamptonshire. The last time Mr Woolmer came to the Mad Stad was for the Championship clash vs Aston Villa almost 3 years ago, on October 18th 2016. The last time he was in charge of a Royals match was the game with Derby County in Jan 2019 where he showed three yellow cards. The Northamptonshire ref has been in the middle for five games this season already, showing 21 yellow cards and 1 red in a game between Wigan and Barnsley - so the players will have to keep there discipline even more so than normal. This will be game 153 he has been in charge of, in that time he has shown 467 yellow cards and just 8 reds. He will be joined by Matt Foley and Robert Hyde and the fourth official Sam Lewis.
- Reading are unbeaten in four of their last five games against Fulham. The most important win against the away side came in the playoff semi-final second leg in May 2017.
- Reading have taken just one point out of a possible 12 in their last four league games. The only way is up, surely?
- Fulham have scored in eight of their nine Championship fixtures this season.
- However, they have only kept a clean sheet in a third of their league matches so far in this campaign.
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Obita, Moore, Miazga, Yiadom, Pele, Swift, Ejaria, Barrett, Boye, Puscas
This is probably the hardest starting eleven I’ve had to predict all season. While a five-at-the-back was working well for us in a run of games earlier this season, it seems to have halted further progress in the Championship in this campaign.
Rafael will definitely start in goal again ahead of Sam Walker and Joao Virginia. Jordan Obita may also start again seeing as he’s better defensively than Omar Richards - this is especially important if the Royals are to successfully revert to playing four at the back. Moore and Miazga, who defended brilliantly together in the second half of last season, may return as a centre-back pairing. Last weekend’s hero Andy Yiadom will also start in this fixture.
John Swift has performed admirably so far this season and is in line to start again in central midfield. Gomes will have a dilemma choosing between who to play next to him. Both Andy Rinomhota and Pele would feel hard done by if they were left out of the starting eleven in this home game. Even if they play together, one of Swift and Ovie Ejaria would miss out. I’ve gone for Pele to give Rinomhota a rest. The academy graduate could come on to make an impact in the latter stages of this game.
Josh Barrett and Lucas Boye could play on the wings either side of George Puscas, who hasn’t had much luck playing in a two. Could Puscas being the main man up front bring the Romanian forward more goals? The pressure is already on him after scoring just two league goals this season. Can he justify his price tag? Let’s hope that he can produce the goods in the upcoming months.
Score Prediction: Reading 1-1 Fulham
Other Championship fixtures:
All Tuesday 1st October (7:45pm KO) unless stated:
Blackburn Rovers vs Nottingham Forest
Hull City vs Sheffield Wednesday
Leeds United vs West Bromwich Albion
Middlesbrough vs Preston North End
Wigan Athletic vs Birmingham City
Stoke City vs Huddersfield Town (8pm KO)
All Wednesday 2nd October (7:45pm KO) unless stated:
Barnsley vs Derby County
Brentford vs Bristol City
Cardiff City vs Queens Park Rangers
Charlton Athletic vs Swansea City
Luton Town vs Millwall