Reading travel to the Riverside this weekend, looking to gain some momentum in their first game after the international break against Middlesbrough. New Boro manager Jonathan Woodgate is six games in to his tenure and will want to get a second win to take the pressure off himself in his first professional managerial job.
He currently has three top-quality strikers in Britt Assombalonga, Ashley Fletcher and Rudy Gestede. Will they be the trio that end up saving a struggling Middlesbrough side’s 2019-20 season? Here’s everything you need to know as the Royals face off against Boro away from home this weekend.
What? Championship Matchday 7
Where? Riverside Stadium
When? Saturday 14th September (3pm KO)
League form record
Middlesbrough’s only win of the season so far came against Wigan Athletic and they are yet to win away from home in this campaign. Losses against Brentford and Blackburn Rovers haven’t done Woodgate any favours as he looks to get off to a good start in 2019. Their next game after Saturday’s fixture meeting with Reading is against Cardiff City in Wales. This makes it all the more important that Middlesbrough win three points this weekend.
Jonny Howson and George Friend will both miss this weekend’s game after they both recently underwent surgery. Benin striker Rudy Gestede will also miss out after suffering a hamstring injury on international duty, along with left back Hayden Coulson. Despite this, both Daniel Ayala and Connor Malley are likely to return to the squad, which will be a big boost to Jonathan Woodgate. The former England defender is currently suffering with injuries in his side this early on in the season.
Despite the 2-0 defeat to Charlton Athletic just before the international break, Reading have generally performed well this season. Solid away performances against West Brom and Huddersfield Town will give the Royals great confidence going in to another away game. If Reading can maintain the performance levels that we saw in our wins against Cardiff and Huddersfield, it will only be a matter of time before the club climb their way into the top half of the table and stay there.
Matt Miazga is still out after his injury early on in the game against Huddersfield, while Josh Barrett is also a doubt after suffering from illness. However, Tyler Blackett could make the matchday squad after returning from the injury he sustained near the end of pre-season.
The last meeting
Middlesbrough 2-1 Reading
Reading secured their Championship status in the penultimate league game of last season, despite a narrow defeat to Middlesbrough. This was because of Rotherham United’s narrow 2-1 loss at the Hawthorns against West Brom. The Millers would eventually go on to be relegated and now ply their trade in League One.
Three goals in the first half on Teesside secured a win for Middlesbrough, who were in the hunt for a playoff position at the time under Tony Pulis. Danny Loader’s wonderful strike opened the scoring for the Royals before goals from Lewis Wing and Britt Assombalonga secured the three points for the home side.
The Royals will be hoping they can improve on this result, with Jonathan Woodgate struggling at the Riverside at this moment in time. Reading’s signings of intent in the summer mean that they’re more than capable of getting three points. However, they will have to play at the top of their game.
- Jonathan Woodgate has only won one of his seven competitive games in charge of Middlesbrough since his appointment in the summer.
- The Teesside club have also only scored two goals out of home in their three Championship matches at the Riverside so far in this campaign.
- Reading have scored more goals than they’ve conceded away from home this season. The Royals’ 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town cancelled out a 2-1 defeat at Hull City, with Reading also drawing 1-1 at West Brom. Is this a sign of things to come?
- The Berkshire side have lost their last five games against Middlesbrough in the league.
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Richards, Blackett, Morrison, Moore, Yiadom, Rinomhota, Pele, Ejaria, Joao, Puscas
You have to wonder whether Joao Virginia will play another game for Reading. He didn’t even play in the Carabao Cup against Plymouth Argyle and Rafael has made a solid start in between the sticks. The Brazilian is likely to start again as one of the best goalkeepers in the second tier of English football.
Omar Richards could retain his place at left wing back after his call up to the England under-21 squad. Jordan Obita may make an appearance off the bench to slowly ease his way back into Championship football, while Tyler Blackett has had the international break to try and make a full recovery. He may play as centre back next to Richards while Miazga returns to fitness.
Although John Swift has performed very well so far this season, Jose Gomes may opt for a more defensive option in Andy Rinomhota this weekend. The academy graduate has not featured as much as he would expect in this campaign, but he’s still a valuable asset and remains a vital part of the squad.
The combination of Lucas Joao and George Puscas failed to pay dividends in the last league game against Charlton Athletic. However, this is something I’d like Jose Gomes to persist with as these two could be a very dangerous pairing together this season. Puscas impressed on international duty for Romania against Spain and Malta, scoring against the latter.
Score prediction: Middlesbrough 1-1 Reading
Other Championship fixtures
All Saturday 14th September (3pm KO) unless stated
Derby County vs Cardiff City (Friday 13th September 7:45pm KO)
Fulham vs West Bromwich Albion (12:30pm KO)
Blackburn Rovers vs Millwall
Charlton Athletic vs Birmingham City
Hull City vs Wigan Athletic
Preston North End vs Brentford
Queens Park Rangers vs Luton Town
Stoke City vs Bristol City
Swansea City vs Nottingham Forest
Huddersfield Town vs Sheffield Wednesday (Sunday 15th September 12pm KO)
Barnsley vs Leeds United (Sunday 15th September 12:30pm KO)