Four games remain in the Royals' race for survival, and Bristol City are the next ones in their way. Lee Johnson’s side come into the game in good form and they will be very confident of securing a playoff spot come the end of the season. In their last fixture, they were defeated 2-1 by Aston Villa, which ended their streak of 5 games without defeat.
Andreas Weimann has been in excellent form since his arrival in Bristol, with five goals and six assists in his 10 appearances so far. He will be Bristol City’s key man if they are to come away with the three points on Friday.
Attacking set-plays is one of City’s main strengths, and the Royals will need to be wary of this if they are to get anything from Ashton Gate. 27% of Johnson’s side goals have come from dead ball situations, and Jose Gomes’ side can not afford to allow Bristol City to take advantage of this.
One man who has definitely profited from City’s quality from set-pieces is frontman Famara Diedhou. He has 12 goals so far this season and is very threatening in the air. He averages 5.9 aerial duels won per game, and City’s midfield will be looking to play off the Senegalese forward and use him as a target man. Fortunately for the Royals, Matt Miazga has added some height into the Royals' back line and massively improved Reading’s ability to deal with balls into the box.
Lee Johnson will most likely set his side up in a flat 4-4-2 - this allows plenty of stability in the defence and midfield, but also lots of options going forward. Josh Brownhill has been a key player in the centre of the park for the Robins this season, and has contributed four goals and four assists. He and his centre midfield partner, Marlon Pack, compliment each other very well as Brownhill is better going forward, but Pack adds some stability to the back line. It is likely that Matty Taylor will start upfront with Diedhou and form a ‘big man, little man partnership’.
My prediction for this game is a 2-2 draw. Both sides desperately need points, for two entirely different reasons. However, a point away at Ashton Gate would be considered a good result for the Royals, and would be classed as another point gained. The Robins would see it as two points dropped and this game could define how their season ends up.