After a long international break, Reading return to Championship action against in-form play-off contenders Preston North End. With Reading languishing dangerously around the relegation zone, they will be looking to capitalise on their home advantage and gain another three points.
After losing just one of their last five fixtures, Reading may have less fear going in to battle with Preston North End, who themselves have turned their season around dramatically.
The last five
Nelson Oliveira could come back to play a part in Reading’s closing games, but Preston will be too soon for him - expect appearances in the last three games of the season instead. After being seen by a Brazilian ‘wonder doctor’ in Shanghai, the Norwich loanee may still be able to help Reading in their relegation battle.
The Royals should have Andy Rinomhota back in time for the weekend after the midfielder sustained an ankle injury. He has been a vital part of Reading’s season so far, along with Oliveira. Sam Baldock could be involved, while Callum Harriott, Matt Miazga and Yakou Meite will be available after international duty.
Our lack of attacking threat is a cause for concern after firing a blank against Stoke City at the bet365 stadium. However, Liam Moore and Matt Miagza put in solid performances against the Potters to ensure that Reading came out with a clean sheet that day.
The only defeat that the Royals have suffered in the past five games came at home against Leeds United. A 3-0 loss halted the momentum that the home side had built up after gaining vital last minute wins against Ipswich Town and Wigan Athletic in the previous two games. However, their draw before those two wins, against relegation rivals Rotherham United, was seen as a missed opportunity to pull away from the relegation zone.
Preston North End: WDWWW
Goalkeeper Conor Ripley remains out for the rest of the season after injuring his ankle in a behind-closed-doors game. Josh Harrop is another long-term absentee for Preston. He damaged his anterior cruciate ligament at the start of October last year.
The Lilywhites’ scintillating form since the turn of the year has propelled them up the table to leave them just outside the Championship playoff places. There is the chance that they could move in to a play-off position if they better Aston Villa’s result this weekend.
The Lancashire side will need to replicate the results they have been picking up recently in the next month if they are to have a chance of getting in to the play-offs at the end of the season. Their recent win against fellow play-off contenders Middlesbrough has allowed Preston to keep up with other teams near the top of the Championship.
15/9/2018: Preston North End 2-3 Reading
7/4/2018: Reading 1-0 Preston North End
19/8/2017: Preston North End 1-0 Reading
11/3/2017: Preston North End 3-0 Reading
6/8/2016: Reading 1-0 Preston North End
Reading have only won two games away from home all season, but one of those came against Preston North End at Deepdale. Goals from Sam Baldock, Tiago Ilori and Leandro Bacuna secured three points for the Royals on the day.
Other victories against Preston in recent history include two 1-0 home wins. The one in April 2018 was crucial for Reading in last season’s relegation battle. The other 1-0 win came on the opening day of the 2016/17 season, which was Jaap Stam’s first game as manager. That seems like a long time ago now…
- Reading have only lost five of their 15 league games under the management of Jose Gomes. They have won four of those games and drawn the remaining six. Not too bad for a team battling relegation.
- Just three points separates the teams from 19th-22nd in the Championship. This relegation battle is likely to go down to the wire.
- Preston have managed to score in 12 of their last 14 matches in all competitions, meaning they have failed to score in just two games in 2019.
- Preston North End are unbeaten in their last 12 league matches, an astonishing record.
Despite Preston North End being unbeaten in the league since New Year’s Day, I feel we could get a positive result with the international break giving Jose Gomes a chance to implement fresh tactics. This international break may have come at the wrong time for Preston, who have been performing consistently well since the start of 2019.
Reading managed to win in the same fixture around the same time last season, which was a vital win for Paul Clement and the Royals at the time. I’m sure that Reading would happily take a 1-0 win like they did last season.
Despite Reading’s impressive clean sheet against Stoke City in their last fixture, there’s always the chance that they will leak goals both at home and away. I predict a narrow 2-1 win for the home side this weekend. Reading will need to come together to score without the availability of Nelson Oliveira.
Reading 2-1 Preston North End