A mid-week Championship tie sees Reading welcome automatic promotion contenders Leeds United to the Madejski Stadium. 34 points separate the two sides in this David vs Goliath game, with both teams desperate to pick up a win.
After a weekend which had everything - altercations on the touchline, a controversial drop ball, Club 1871 and an amazing last minute winner through Yakou Meite’s header - the belief that Reading can stay up is growing.
This fixture is going to be very tough for the Royals. They will have to play at their best if they have any chance of taking a draw or win.
The last five
Ovie Ejaria and Liam Moore are doubts for this game after suffering injuries against Wigan Athletic; the latter has a dislocated shoulder. Sam Baldock, Andy Rinomhota, Jordan Obita, Saeid Ezatolahi and Nelson Oliveira are also currently on the Royals’ injury list. Danny Loader, Ryan East and Michael Olise could feature on the bench for the home team again, while Jose Gomes hinted that Josh Barrett could also be involved with the first team quite soon.
In my last match preview, I wrote that Reading needed to start turning draws into wins - something they have since done brilliantly in their past two matches. If the fixtures against Ipswich Town and Wigan Athletic ended up as draws, Reading would be in the relegation zone right now and just three points ahead of Bolton Wanderers. With Bolton having several winnable games before the end of the season, it was vital that Reading won both of the last two games.
Leeds United: WWLWW
Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Phillips will be monitored after suffering first-half injuries in their last fixture against Bristol City. Both were able to continue after half time but Bamford was substituted early on in the second half. Adam Forshaw and Kemar Roofe are unlikely to feature at the Madejski Stadium, but several other players have come back from injury in the past few games. They include Gaetano Beradi, Barry Douglas, Izzy Brown and Stuart Dallas. Jack Clarke may also return to the first team squad after recovering from a virus.
The only loss that Leeds United have suffered in the past five games came at Loftus Road, where the Whites lost 1-0 at QPR. Their most impressive result in those last few games was arguably their 4-0 win against West Brom, who have won over half of their away league games this season. With Sheffield United hot on Leeds United’s tail for an automatic promotion spot, the away side can’t afford to slip up against Reading on Tuesday.
27/11/2018: Leeds United 1-0 Reading
10/3/2018: Reading 2-2 Leeds United
14/10/2017: Leeds United 0-1 Reading
1/4/2017: Reading 1-0 Leeds United
13/12/2016: Leeds United 2-0 Reading
Marc McNulty’s saved penalty in the last meeting between these two sides denied the Royals a share of the spoils at Elland Road in late November last year. Only four of those players who started in that fixture featured from the off against Wigan Athletic at the Madejski Stadium at the weekend. Tiago Ilori and Leandro Bacuna, who started in Yorkshire last November, have left the club permanently since that fixture.
However, Reading have picked up two memorable wins against Leeds United in the past couple of years. Mo Barrow’s strike against his former club in the October 2017 tie dragged the Royals out of relegation trouble that day. The match between the two sides at the Madejski Stadium in April the same year boosted Reading’s promotion chances, through Yann Kermorgant’s strike past Robert Green in the Leeds goal.
- Reading have only lost one of their last eight league games, which was their 4-0 defeat at Bramall Lane against Sheffield United.
- The Royals are currently eight points off their total of last season - our tally of 44 points last season was just enough to keep them up. We will be looking to beat that total this season with 10 games left to give us a fighting chance of staying up.
- Reading have one more point than they did at this stage last season (36-35).
- Leeds United have picked up ten more points so far this season than they did the whole of last season. They have ten more games to play this season to widen that gap even further. All about the tens.
- After their winner at Bristol City at the weekend, they have now also scored more goals this season than they did last season (60-59). Kemar Roofe has contributed heavily towards that with 14 strikes.
In our current form, I should be quite optimistic that we can at least pick up a point at home against any side. However, I can’t help but feel that the Royals will have run out of steam after two breathtaking wins, and Leeds United under Marcelo Bielsa are a force to be reckoned with. Despite Reading picking up back-to-back wins, their performances have not been the best.
There is the risk of the Royals being on the end of a heavy defeat if they perform poorly on Tuesday. However, the belief is certainly there that we can stay up regardless of this result!
Reading 0-2 Leeds United