Mark Bowen will desperately be looking to finish this set of games on a high, with November’s international break on the horizon after hosting Luton Town. Reading have ten more games in 2019 to climb up the Championship table, in what has certainly been a very mixed year. Despite the club’s great form under Mark Bowen, they remain just three points above the relegation zone.
Although they have a game in hand over most of the other teams in the bottom half, this extra fixture is a difficult trip to the East Midlands to face Nottingham Forest in January. This makes it so important that Reading treat no teams in the Championship for granted and pick up as many points as possible as we head into the winter period.
What? Championship Matchday 15
Who? Luton Town
Where? Madejski Stadium
When? Saturday 9th November 2019 (3pm KO)
The Royals have taken seven points from a possible nine under Bowen after last weekend’s win at home to Millwall. A wave of cautious optimism has spread around the vast majority of the fanbase, even to those who were firmly against his appointment at first. We’re becoming a ‘nastier’ team to play against. This is something that was much-needed after Jose Gomes’ dismissal.
Rafael and Liam Moore are both in contention to start this Saturday after recovering from injuries that they picked up against Millwall last weekend. The Royals could receive another injury boost soon, with Lucas Boye getting closer to returning and playing 45 minutes for the under-23s on Friday. However, Lucas Joao remains sidelined with a foot injury and will be out for another few weeks whilst he eases his way back in to the first team. Midfield veteran Charlie Adam is also a doubt with a hamstring injury.
Luton Town: LWLLL
The only win that the Bedfordshire side have picked up in their last five games was in mid-October against Bristol City. That 3-0 win has been followed by three consecutive defeats going into this match at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday. These losses came against Fulham, Birmingham City and Nottingham Forest, conceding seven goals in these three games. Will the Hatters’ defence leak more goals this weekend?
Striker James Collins is just one yellow card away from a one-match suspension, after picking up four bookings in the Championship this season. His yellow cards will be wiped after the 19th league match of the season if he avoids bookings in his upcoming games against Reading, Leeds United, Charlton Athletic and Brentford.
The last meeting
Reading 5-1 Luton Town
Usually, I would have a nice video for you to watch, recapping the last time when both sides met. However, after searching the length and breadth of the internet, I couldn’t find one for this August 2008 match. The last meeting between the two sides was of one of the few games in which Reading performed very well under Brendan Rodgers.
The Hunt brothers got Reading off to a quick start, with the duo scoring one each to put the home side 2-0 up before the 15-minute mark. Alex Pearce headed home from a corner shortly after the break to make it 3-0, before then-youngsters Jem Karacan and James Henry completed the rout.
However, the goal I remember that night was from Luton Town’s Ryan Charles. It must have been a dire performance from the Hatters, because I remember even the home fans cheering his goal in the 80th minute.
If we had performed that well under Rodgers consistently that season, who knows where we may have ended up. Then again, we wouldn’t have had Brian McDermott if the man from Northern Ireland wasn’t sacked by Sir John Madejski.
- Reading have won four of their last five games against Luton Town, a record dating back to August 2001.
- Luton Town’s 3-2 home victory against Reading in the 2005/06 season was only one of two league defeats that the Royals suffered in that campaign. Their only other loss came at home against Plymouth Argyle on the opening day.
- The Hatters have the joint-second-worst defensive record in the league this season, conceding 27 goals. Only 23rd-placed Barnsley have conceded more (29).
- However, they have scored more goals than anyone 15th or below in the league so far in this campaign. Do Luton Town really deserve to be just one place above the relegation zone?
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Obita, Moore, Morrison, Miazga, Yiadom, Rinomhota, Swift, Ejaria, Baldock, Puscas
Rafael is likely to start in goal on Saturday after recovering from his calf injury from last weekend, although Sam Walker will be ready to take his spot if the Brazilian isn’t quite ready in time for the Luton Town game. Mark Bowen may take the risk on Rafael, seeing as the international break is only one game away.
Bowen might also take a risk on Liam Moore, who aggravated a long-term shoulder problem against Millwall. He eventually had to be replaced by Tyler Blackett, although the Royals looked shaky at the back without their captain. Michael Morrison and Matt Miazga are likely to line up with Moore in central defence once again. Last weekend’s goalscorer Jordan Obita could also start again, with Andy Yiadom on the opposite flank.
Pele will be frustrated that he hasn’t had much playing time recently, with Andy Rinomhota, John Swift and Ovie Ejaria proving to be an effective trio in the centre of midfield. George Puscas and Sam Baldock may start up front to provide even more consistency in Bowen’s lineup. Why change a winning team?
You have to feel that George Puscas needs to start scoring regularly if he’s to gain the confidence he needs to become one of the best strikers in the league. This might just be the game that gives him the chance to do that. I’m going for a reasonably comfortable 3-1 victory at the weekend, although Luton Town shouldn’t be underestimated at all.
Score Prediction: Reading 3-1 Luton Town
Other Championship fixtures
All Saturday 9th November (3pm KO) unless stated
Nottingham Forest vs Derby County (12:30pm KO)
Barnsley vs Stoke City
Birmingham City vs Fulham
Hull City vs West Bromwich Albion
Leeds United vs Blackburn Rovers
Millwall vs Charlton Athletic
Preston North End vs Huddersfield Town
Queens Park Rangers vs Middlesbrough
Sheffield Wednesday vs Swansea City
Wigan Athletic vs Brentford
Cardiff City vs Bristol City (Sunday 10th November 12pm KO)