Two sides who have had a huge difference in success over the past couple of years face off in a third round Carabao Cup game this Wednesday.
Wolverhampton Wanderers have been boosted by a super-agent, a manager of a very high calibre and considerable financial backing in the last few seasons. This is while Reading have been mismanaged, had a flurry of different managers and are still in decline since the playoff final defeat at Wembley in 2017.
Here’s the information you need to know ahead of this mid-week Carabao Cup game in the West Midlands. The home side will be firm favourites to go through to the fourth round, even if they field a weakened side on Wednesday.
What? Carabao Cup Round 3
Who? Wolverhampton Wanderers
Where? Molineux Stadium
When? Wednesday 25th September (7:45pm KO)
Our last Carabao Cup clash
Plymouth Argyle 2-4 Reading
Plymouth took the lead midway through the first half in controversial fashion, with the ball having gone out of play in the build up to Ryan Taylor’s goal. However, Reading equalised when Charlie Adam played a through ball to Josh Barrett, who thumped the ball in to the bottom right-hand corner to level the score.
Argyle started the second half well and retook the lead through a well-placed Jose Baxter finish. Shortly after, Josh Barrett was Reading’s saviour once again, curling a long-range strike beyond the keeper into the top corner in front of the travelling support.
The game was heading to extra time until Yakou Meite won a penalty, going down under a challenge from goalkeeper Mike Cooper. The forward dusted himself down and converted the spot kick to put the Royals in the lead for the first time in the game. He went on to add a fourth in stoppage time to secure a 4-2 away win for the Royals, putting them in to the third round of the Carabao Cup.
The last meeting
Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 Reading
Two goals from Matt Docherty, either side of a tap in from former Reading striker Benik Afobe, sealed the comfortable win for Wolves, who went on to be promoted as champions. It could have been a lot worse for the Royals, with the West Midlands side having a whole host of chances to score more goals.
This fixture in March 2018 was in the midst of a miserable run of form under Jaap Stam, who was sacked after the following game against Norwich City. It was only two vital home wins against QPR and Preston North End under Paul Clement that prevented the Royals from being relegated to the third tier of England football.
- Wolverhampton Wanderers won 16 league matches last season (finishing in seventh), the same number of wins that Reading picked up in the 2006/07 campaign (finishing eighth). Those are remarkable top-half finishes for sides who spent their previous respective seasons in the Championship before taking to the top flight very quickly.
- The top-tier side have yet to keep a clean sheet at home in the league this season. Their 5-2 loss to Chelsea in their last home league game will give Reading confidence that they can get on the scoresheet on Wednesday.
- Reading have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last five away games in this competition. This dates back to our 1-0 win at Colchester United back in 2015.
- The Royals’ last win over a Premier League side was against Queens Park Rangers in 2012 (when we were also in the top flight). A 3-2 scoreline courtesy of Kaspars Gorkss, Nicky Shorey and Pavel Pogrebnyak secured the victory at Loftus Road that night.
Likely Reading lineup: Virginia, Richards, McIntyre, Moore, Osho, Howe, Adam, Rinomhota, Olise, Boye, Meite
Although Joao Virginia has been left out of the vast majority of games this season, this could be the time where he makes an impression on Jose Gomes. Whichever goalkeeper starts is likely to have a busy evening against the Premier League side. Sam Walker started against Plymouth Argyle, but this midweek game could be the opportunity that Virginia has been waiting for.
Omar Richards was dropped for Jordan Obita on Saturday, but could start this Carabao Cup game to show why he shouldn’t have been left out of the side against Blackburn Rovers. A youthful duo of Tom McIntyre and Gabriel Osho may line up either side of captain Liam Moore, with Tyler Blackett perhaps set to start in the next Championship game. Teddy Howe may also come in to give Andy Yiadom some rest.
Andy Rinomhota is likely to start ahead of Pele after being dropped to the bench again last weekend. Charlie Adam and Michael Olise will provide a mix of youth and experience. Up front, Yakou Meite and Lucas Boye could be given the chance to impress, with the former scoring a brace against Plymouth Argyle in the previous round.
This fixture could be a step too far for the Royals, who have progressed well in the Carabao Cup so far. I predict a comfortable 2-0 win for the home side.
Score prediction: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Reading
Other Carabao Cup fixtures involving Championship teams in Round 3
Arsenal vs Nottingham Forest
Crawley Town vs Stoke City
Luton Town vs Leicester City
Preston North End vs Manchester City
Sheffield Wednesday vs Everton
Watford vs Swansea City