Reading will look to bounce back this midweek at the Madejski Stadium against second-placed Leeds United, who have been rock solid in defence under Marcelo Bielsa so far this season.
With the Royals four points off the relegation zone, they have a real chance to make a statement and lift themselves away from the scrap down at the bottom with a game in hand. What a victory this would be. Unlikely, but not impossible!
The tie between two sides at opposite ends of the table could be a feisty encounter. Can the Royals do it on a cold midweek evening in Berkshire? Here’s all the facts and stats you need to know ahead of Tuesday’s fixture.
What? Championship Matchday 17
Who? Leeds United
Where? Madejski Stadium
When? Tuesday 26th November 2019 (8pm KO)
Last weekend’s defeat away at Griffin Park against Brentford was the first in Mark Bowen’s tenure. An Ollie Watkins header in the second half proved to the difference between the two sides, as George Puscas missed a one on one chance to put Reading ahead early on in Greater London. Other than that, Mark Bowen’s record at Reading has been impressive and he has won all of his games at the Madejski Stadium during his time in charge. Is that a good omen for this match?
Andy Yiadom will miss this match through suspension, after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season. Meanwhile, Lucas Boye came off the bench on Saturday and is an option once again for Mark Bowen. Lucas Joao is back in training after sustaining a severe foot injury many weeks ago, while Sam Baldock is an injury concern after damaging his hamstring on Saturday.
Leeds United: DDWWW
The Yorkshire side have won their past three games against Queens Park Rangers, Blackburn and Luton Town. They’re currently three points superior to Preston North End, who lost their away game against Derby County at the weekend. It’s imperative that Leeds United follow up their victory against Luton Town with another victory this midweek if they are to extend this margin between second and third place.
Both Stuart Dallas and Liam Cooper played at the weekend, after they were cast an injury doubts for the match in Bedfordshire. The latter came off the bench to replace Gaetano Beradi. However, Eddie Nketiah missed out after suffering a lower abdominal injury and he’s a doubt once again along with midfielder Jamie Shackleton. Adam Forshaw continues to be a long term absentee with a hip injury.
The last meeting
Reading 0-3 Leeds United
Three first-half goals from Leeds United consigned then-relegation-threatened Reading to another defeat in mid-March.
Mateusz Klich finished off a well-worked move by the away side to put them 1-0 within the first 15 minutes. A mistake from youngster Ryan East ended up costing the Royals, with Pablo Hernandez firing a shot off the inside of the post and beyond Emiliano Martinez.
The Spanish midfielder doubled his tally and added the Yorkshire side’s third before half time, firing an exquisite shot in to the left hand corner to put the away side in an unassailable position.
At the time, Reading were in a very precarious position and were just three points off the relegation zone with 22nd-placed Rotherham United having a game in hand over them. Credit to Jose Gomes and his players, they didn’t let this result destroy them.
- Despite there being 16 places between the two sides, the Royals have scored just four fewer league goals than Leeds United so far this season. They also have a game in hand over the second-placed side.
- Reading have won just two of their last ten meetings with Leeds United. The past ten meetings have all been Championship games.
- Leeds United have the best defensive record in the league so far this season, conceding just 10 goals in 17 league matches.
- In that time, they have kept eight clean sheets. A very impressive record.
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Richards, Moore, Morrison, Miazga, Gunter, Rinomhota, Swift, Ejaria, Boye, Puscas
Both Chris Gunter and Teddy Howe are in the frame for a start with Andy Yiadom’s suspension. You would have to say that the Welshman is the more likely to start against such a strong Leeds United side.
On the other side, Omar Richards could start for the Royals again after Jordan Obita missed out completely against Brentford. Moore, Morrison and Miazga are likely to retain their places in the starting eleven, despite not being able to keep a clean sheet at the weekend.
Pele could be given a start to act as a more defensive option in midfield against a promotion-chasing side, although I feel that Mark Bowen will persist with the trio that has helped the Welsh manager pick up momentum early on in his tenure. However, Pele is likely to feature off the bench if the Royals need some defensive stability late on against the Whites.
Sam Baldock went off after feeling his hamstring at the weekend and, with Lucas Boye available again, the Argentinian may get the nod if Bowen does not want to risk Baldock. It’s remarkable that Baldock has gone from being on the transfer list to one of the most important cogs in Reading’s machine.
I fear for the Royals in this match. I can’t see anything but a second straight defeat for Bowen. Reading will have to be at their very, very best if they want to get anything out of this match.
Score Prediction: Reading 0-2 Leeds United
Other Championship fixtures
All Tuesday 26th November (7:45pm KO) unless stated
Cardiff City vs Stoke City
Fulham vs Derby County
Huddersfield Town vs Swansea City
Luton Town vs Charlton Athletic
Millwall vs Wigan Athletic
All Wednesday 27th November (7:45pm KO) unless stated
Blackburn Rovers vs Brentford
Hull City vs Preston North End
Middlesbrough vs Barnsley
Queens Park Rangers vs Nottingham Forest
Sheffield Wednesday vs Birmingham City
West Bromwich Albion vs Bristol City (8pm KO)