Reading travel to Wales this weekend to face a Swansea City side that has thrived under new manager Steve Cooper so far this season. After three consecutive defeats in the league as well as their midweek loss in the Carabao Cup against Wolves, Reading really need to pick up their form if they’re to climb up the Championship table. Jose Gomes will only come under more pressure if Reading lose again at the Liberty Stadium this week.
Here’s my preview as second takes on 20th in an important game for both sides competing at opposite ends of the Championship table.
What? Championship Matchday 9
Who? Swansea City
Where? Liberty Stadium
When? Saturday 28th September (3pm KO)
Swansea City: WWWLD
Swansea have started the season off very well, despite only taking one point from a possible six in their last two league games. Their most impressive result of the season came at Elland Road against top of the table Leeds United, with Wayne Routledge ensuring that the Swans took all three points back to Wales in a 1-0 win.
Full back Jake Bidwell will miss this weekend’s game after his red card against Bristol City. He sat out the Carabao Cup game against Watford and will also be ineligible for the Charlton Athletic fixture in serving his three-match suspension. Forward Aldo Kalulu, on loan from Swiss side FC Basel, will also miss this weekend’s fixture with an ankle injury.
Although Reading started the season off reasonably promisingly and were in midtable after the win at Huddersfield Town, a run of three consecutive defeats has put Reading just above the dotted line. They are just two points ahead of 22nd-placed Barnsley and could fall into the bottom three if this wretched run of form continues.
Michael Morrison was seen wearing a protective boot as he left the Madejski Stadium last weekend and is likely to be a doubt for this weekend’s tie in Wales. However, Matt Miazga is match fit after his appearance against Wolverhampton Wanderers in midweek and could replace him in central defence. Tyler Blackett and Tom McIntyre are other options for manager Gomes, who will look to tighten up his defence against an in-form Swansea City.
The last meeting
Reading 1-4 Swansea City
This New Year’s Day tie was arguably the lowest point of Reading’s 2019 so far. Oli McBurnie put the Swans 1-0 up at the Madejski Stadium within two minutes, placing a header past Anssi Jaakkola. Bersant Celina’s floating ball in to the 18-yard box led to the away side doubling their lead, with Connor Roberts tapping the ball home. Mike van der Hoorn’s superb finish from a Matt Grimes free kick, shortly before half time, put the Swans 3-0 up at the interval against the Royals. Where have we heard that before?
Andy Yiadom’s foul on the edge of the area gave McBurnie a chance to grab a brace early on in the second half, a chance which he converted with confidence. Callum Harriott’s consolation wasn’t enough to prevent a humiliating defeat in the first fixture of 2019.
- Reading have failed to win any of their last 11 matches against Swansea City. Their last victory was in September 2008, in a 4-0 home win at the Madejski Stadium.
- The Royals have also only scored once in the past four competitive games against the Swans.
- Swansea City are unbeaten in seven of their eight Championship fixtures this season. This defeat came at home against Nottingham Forest earlier this month.
- The Welsh side have the second best defence in the league so far this season, conceding just five goals in eight games.
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Obita, Blackett, Moore, Miazga, Yiadom, Pele, Swift, Ejaria, Joao, Puscas
After starting his first Championship game in almost two years, Jordan Obita is likely to be included in the starting eleven again, with Liam Moore alongside him in defence. Matt Miazga has also returned from injury and could be started again this weekend, with Reading’s form declining after his absence recently.
Pele, John Swift and Ovie Ejaria will be hoping that they can produce a performance similar to the one against Cardiff City. Attack could be the best form of defence against a side which are currently flying high in the Championship. Although Ejaria hasn’t played at his best recently, form is temporary and class is permanent. As long as he keeps playing, he will be a vital player this season. John Swift has also performed very well so far in this campaign.
George Puscas and Lucas Joao are also likely to start again this weekend. If they can work well together in the coming months, the duo could be responsible for a possible upturn in form. If they can’t help Reading climb up the table, Jose Gomes may opt to switch to one up front, but I think Gomes should give the pair one more chance to impress.
The away side have all the attacking firepower needed to score a hatful of goals this season. It’s vital that Reading get the first goal this weekend. Will they get it? I have serious doubts. The Royals look like they are on a downward spiral at the moment. I predict a comfortable 2-0 win for the home side this Saturday.
Score Prediction: Swansea City 2-0 Reading
Other Championship fixtures
All Saturday 28th September (3pm KO) unless stated
Fulham vs Wigan Athletic (Friday 27th September 7:45pm KO)
Stoke City vs Nottingham Forest (Friday 27th September 8pm KO)
Queens Park Rangers vs West Bromwich Albion (12:30pm)
Blackburn Rovers vs Luton Town
Charlton Athletic vs Leeds United
Derby County vs Birmingham City
Huddersfield Town vs Millwall
Hull City vs Cardiff City
Middlesbrough vs Sheffield Wednesday
Preston North End vs Bristol City
Barnsley vs Brentford (Sunday 29th September 1:30pm KO)