The Royals are back at the Madejski Stadium in their third match of the Championship season, looking to pick up their first points of the season against recently relegated Cardiff City.
Not only have the Berkshire side lost their first two games, but they also only just scraped their way past League One side Wycombe Wanderers in midweek. This makes it vital that Reading avoid defeat this weekend, if they are to have any chance of gaining momentum going in to their next set of fixtures.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this Sunday’s clash in front of the TV cameras against Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City side. The Welsh side will be pushing for a finish at the top end of the table to have a shot at promotion straight back to the Premier League.
What? Championship Matchday 3
Who? Cardiff City
Where? Madejski Stadium
When? Sunday 18th August 2019 (12pm KO)
Even though the first two league games ended in defeat for the Royals, they showed promising signs and will get their first points on the board very soon if they can fully utilise the attacking firepower they now have up front with the signings of Lucas Joao and George Puscas.
The latter scored his first goal for the club in midweek in the Carabao Cup against Wycombe Wanderers. Lucas Boye has also started promisingly and could be vital at the weekend if fit - he came off at half-time during the clash at Adams Park.
Tyler Blackett remains sidelined after his hamstring injury against Chelsea in pre-season. He may be sidelined for another couple of weeks as he continues his recovery. However, Reading may have another left back available quite soon. Jordan Obita has played twice for the under-23s this week - first against Newcastle United at home, and then at Manchester United. Jose Gomes will ease him back slowly in to the squad after such a long time out.
Cardiff City: LW
After their disappointing opening-day defeat away to Wigan Athletic, the Bluebirds got off the mark with a narrow 2-1 win against Luton Town last weekend. This was their first game at the Cardiff City Stadium this season and they will be hoping to make their home a fortress as they look to get back to the Premier League.
Neil Etheridge, Sol Bamba, Jazz Richards, Matt Connolly and Lee Tomlin are all suffering with injury problems at this moment in time, with Etheridge and Bamba two of Cardiff City’s most important players. Neither are expected to fully recover from their injuries until next month, which will be a blow for Neil Warnock. However, they still have the capability to do well at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday with the players they currently have.
The Last Meeting
Cardiff City 0-0 Reading
The last game between the two sides was a vital one for both clubs at different ends of the table back at the end of the 2017/18 season. Cardiff City wanted guaranteed automatic promotion back to the Premier League on the last day of that season, with Reading fighting to avoid relegation.
Even though both sides only picked up a point from this game, other results went their way, meaning Reading avoided relegation while Cardiff secured second place over challengers Fulham, who went up through the playoffs. Kenneth Zohore went closest that day with an effort cleared off the line from centre-back Liam Moore.
- Reading have won just one game out their previous last nine league games in the Championship. A poor end to last season has matched a slow start to this campaign.
- The Royals have scored in all of their last five games. Goals against Peterborough United, Chelsea, Sheffield Wednesday, Hull City and Wycombe Wanderers have allowed the front line to gain confidence in this campaign.
- Cardiff City had the joint-best defensive record in their last Championship season, conceding just 39 goals in 46 league games as they were promoted to the Premier League. Only Championship winners Wolverhampton Wanderers managed to match that record that season.
Despite being relegated from the Premier League, they finished just two points behind 17th-placed Brighton and Hove Albion last season.
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Yiadom, Miazga, Morrison, Moore, Richards, Pele, Rinomhota, Ejaria, Boye, Joao, Puscas
After struggling defensively so far this season, conceding five goals in just two league games, Jose Gomes may change his system and opt for five at the back.
Rafael could come in for Joao Virginia, who has struggled in the last two league games. His error against Hull City last weekend for their first goal should have been prevented quite easily. Will Gomes take action this weekend and start Rafael? He saved two penalties in the penalty shoot-out against Wycombe in midweek so his confidence will be high.
The central defensive trio of Moore, Morrison and Mizaga could prove to be a very good combination for the Royals at the back. Rinomhota and Pele are likely to partner up in midfield once again, although I think they’ll be part of a midfield two - not a three as in midweek.
Gomes may decide to rely on Richards and Yiadom to provide the width in the side this weekend as wing backs, with Boye and Joao possibly operating as inside forwards. This could allow Puscas to get all the support he needs to prevent him from being isolated up front against the Bluebirds.
Score prediction: Reading 2-2 Cardiff City
Other Championship fixtures
All Saturday 17th August (3pm KO) unless stated
Huddersfield Town 1-2 Fulham (Friday 16th August 7:45pm KO)
Barnsley 2-2 Charlton Athletic
Blackburn Rovers 1-0 Middlesbrough
Brentford 1-1 Hull City
Bristol City 2-0 Queens Park Rangers
Luton Town 1-2 West Bromwich Albion
Millwall 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday
Nottingham Forest 3-0 Birmingham City
Stoke City 2-2 Derby County
Swansea City 3-2 Preston North End
Wigan Athletic 0-2 Leeds United