It’s been a mixed start to both teams’ Championship campaigns in 2019 so far, as Reading take on Blackburn Rovers at the Madejski Stadium this weekend. Both sides are lower mid-table and will be wanting to avoid falling further down so early on in the season.
After winning three games, losing three and drawing one, Tony Mowbray will be optimistic that his side can climb up the table in the following games to build on last season’s progress. Their home games at Ewood Park against Luton Town and Nottingham Forest, following Saturday’s fixture against the Royals, will be a good chance for them to gain momentum.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the showdown between the two sides, who could both be heading for mid-table finishes this season.
What? Championship Matchday 8
Who? Blackburn Rovers
Where? Madejski Stadium
When? Saturday 21st September (3pm KO)
After recent losses against Charlton Athletic and Middlesbrough, Reading will want to pick up a win this weekend. Their home form at the end of last season helped the Royals escape relegation. They hope that they can make the Madejski a fortress once again in this campaign. Despite good performances against Cardiff City, West Brom and Huddersfield Town, the past two results have hindered progress being made so far.
Yakou Meite is close to returning to first team action after suffering a head injury last weekend. Despite spending last Saturday in hospital, the French forward is back in training and could be fit for the game against Blackburn this week. Matt Miazga is also back in full training and could return to the matchday squad this weekend. Jose Gomes has plenty of options to choose from, with Tyler Blackett and Jordan Obita also returning to the first team squad recently.
Blackburn Rovers: WWDLW
After losing their first two games of the season against London sides Charlton Athletic and Fulham, Blackburn Rovers have got their season back on track. Three wins against Middlesbrough, Hull City and Millwall have helped their cause. However, their only away win of this season was at the KCOM Stadium. Will they make it two wins at the Madejski Stadium?
Lewis Holtby may be an option for Tony Mowbray to use very soon, with the midfielder signing for the Lancashire club this week. Although his career has stalled, Holty is still a very good free-agent signing, and has previously played for a range of clubs including Tottenham Hotspur and Hamburg. Youngster John Buckley is another player to watch this weekend after making several appearances for the Championship club this season.
The last meeting
Reading 2-1 Blackburn Rovers
This was a crucial in mid-February game for the Royals. The home side took the lead in injury time at the end of the first half when John Swift finished expertly from an Andy Yiadom assist. Although Reading had their chances to extend the lead and put the game beyond Rovers, left back Amari’i Bell levelled the match with a smart finish across goalkeeper Emi Martinez in the second half.
The Royals thought they had lost their chance to take all three points and make their way out of the Championship relegation zone. However, Swift had different ideas and was involved in the winning goal. His long ball was latched onto by loanee Nelson Oliveira, who took on a defender and curled the ball in to the right hand corner to make it 2-1.
This result took Reading out of the relegation zone at the expense of Rotherham United, who had drawn 2-2 at the KCOM Stadium against Hull City the previous night.
- Reading are unbeaten in six of their last seven league meetings with Blackburn.
- Blackburn Rovers have won just three of their last nine games, a record going back to the final couple of games of last season.
- Rovers have kept four clean sheets in their seven league games so far this season. Despite this, they don’t have a positive goal difference.
- Meanwhile, Reading have only kept two clean sheets in the league this season.
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Obita, Blackett, Morrison, Moore, Yiadom, Rinomhota, Swift, Ejaria, Joao, Puscas
This game may see the return of both Jordan Obita and Tyler Blackett, as the Royals look to get their first win of this month. Blackett was brilliant in the left-centre-back role during our promotion-chasing 2016/17 season under Jaap Stam and could play well again here for Jose Gomes, if he’s given the chance. Although McIntyre has played well recently, Gomes may opt for experience, especially after losing the previous two league games.
Playing Rinomhota as the most defensive player away at Middlesbrough was a big risk. However, Gomes can afford to play the attacking trio of Swift, Rinomhota and Ejaria in midfield at home and will fancy their chances against Blackburn Rovers this Saturday.
A changed attacking duo of Lucas Boye and Yakou Meite was played at Middlesbrough on Saturday. This was partly due to Puscas picking up a minor toe injury. However, I expect Lucas Joao and George Puscas to form a good partnership this weekend. If they can play well together, the hosts have a great chance of picking up all three points this weekend.
However, this team is still a work in progress. I’m going for a 1-1 draw this weekend, which may help the Royals get back on track. It’s crucial that the hosts get the first goal on Saturday.
Score Prediction: Reading 1-1 Blackburn Rovers
Other Championship fixtures
All fixtures on Saturday 21st September (3pm KO) unless stated
Leeds United vs Derby County (12:30pm KO)
Birmingham City vs Preston North End
Brentford vs Stoke City
Bristol City vs Swansea City
Cardiff City vs Middlesbrough
Luton Town vs Hull City
Millwall vs Queens Park Rangers
Nottingham Forest vs Barnsley
Sheffield Wednesday vs Fulham
Wigan Athletic vs Charlton Athletic
West Bromwich Albion vs Huddersfield Town (Sunday 22nd September 12pm KO)