A midweek Championship tie under the Madejski Stadium lights awaits Reading and Bristol City, who are currently separated by seven points in the campaign.
Lee Johnson’s side have been in contention for a playoff spot over the past couple of years and narrowly missed out on sixth spot last season by just four points, after suffering inconsistent form at the business end of last season.
Meanwhile, the home side have been struggling at the wrong end of the table for the past three seasons and might count themselves lucky that they’ve escaped the trap door to the third tier.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this Tuesday’s clash, with both sides looking to win all three points.
What? Championship Matchday 29
Who? Bristol City
Where? Madejski Stadium
When? Tuesday 28th January 2020 (8pm KO)
League Form Record
Although the Royals have failed to win any of their past three games, the way they manage to equalise against Nottingham Forest on both occasions was impressive. At this stage of the season, every game counts and Mark Bowen will be delighted with the attitude of his players. This good form needs to be sustained throughout this season and at the start of next season if Mark Bowen is to last much longer than predecessor Jose Gomes.
Reading suffered a double defensive blow in their FA Cup tie at the weekend against Cardiff City. Matt Miazga had to be stretchered off with a potentially serious injury, whilst Tom McIntyre was sent off in the latter stages of the match. However, McIntyre will only serve a one-match suspension, meaning that he will miss this Tuesday’s tie at the Madejski Stadium. Gabriel Osho is likely to make the bench in the absence of the duo. Andre Burley is another contender.
Bristol City: LWLWW
Bristol City have endured a mixed spell of form recently, although they will be hoping that their wins in the last two Championship games can give them a real platform to build on. Their 4-0 home loss against Brentford on New Years Day is a strong reminder that they can come unstuck if they’re not careful. Reading will be hoping that they have another bad day on Tuesday night.
Nakhi Wells is a major target for Lee Johnson’s side and could join the club before deadline day, although he’s unlikely to sign before Tuesday night’s game if he does make the move. Meanwhile, one potential outgoing is 24-year-old winger Niclas Eliasson, who’s currently subject of strong interest from Scottish side Celtic. Could he be moving up north before next Friday’s deadline? If I was him, I’d certainly stay at Ashton Gate. He might be a Premier League footballer next season if City can remain in contention for a playoff spot.
The Last Meeting
Bristol City 1 – 0 Reading
Famara Diedhiou’s diving header proved to be the difference between Bristol City and Reading at Ashton Gate back in October, in what proved to be Jose Gomes’ last game as Royals’ manager.
Ovie Ejaria, George Pucas and Lucas Boye all had chances to bring the game level for the Berkshire side, although none of the trio could convert. Puscas had the best chance, although he failed to connect properly from an Ovie Ejaria low cross. The argument could be made that the Romanian was put off by the diving defensive bodies.
At the time, the away side were in real danger of being in the relegation zone going in to the winter period. That’s exactly why the Royals simply had to make a managerial change.
- Reading have lost just one of their last nine league games. Their FA Cup performances have also been very respectful, considering the youthful sides we’ve started.
- The Royals have won just one of their last five games against this midweek’s opponents. Can they improve this record on Tuesday?
- Bristol City have won just nine points out of a possible 24 in their last eight league games. Can the Royals capitalise on this poor form?
- The Robins have scored more league goals away from home than they have at Ashton Gate (20 at home vs 22 away).
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Blackett, Moore, Morrison, Gunter, Pele, Swift, Ejaria, Obita, Olise, Pucas
Reading are likely to make eleven changes once again, as the home side return to league action. Rafael will come back in. Blackett, Moore, Morrison and Gunter will also return refreshed from their rest on Saturday. Tyler Blackett has been in good form recently and Chris Gunter has also been a very capable stand in for the injured Yiadom.
Michael Olise was a surprise inclusion for the game at the City Ground against Nottingham Forest, although he played well enough to keep his place for the fixture against Bristol City. Pele has also improved majorly since joining back in the summer. Meanwhile, Ovie Ejaria and John Swift have been a brilliant duo throughout the season. The pair have arguably been the best two performers for the Royals so far this season, and the team will be looking to them to come up with the goods going in to the last few months of the campaign.
George Puscas is likely to be the lone striker. Although consistency has disrupted his season, he will need to step up to the plate in the absence of fellow summer signing Lucas Joao. The Romanian will be concerned that a striker is top of Reading’s transfer wish list in this window. However, the Royals have just under a week to complete any business, whether that’s in terms of incomings and/or outgoings.
Why do I feel so optimistic about the Royals’ chances of winning on Tuesday? The Robins have been doing well under Lee Johnson in recent years and have become a force to be reckoned with. I’m going for a narrow 2-1 win, although the Royals will need to be on top of their game if they are to come away with all three points.
Score Prediction: Reading 2 – 1 Bristol City
Other Championship fixtures
All Tuesday 28th January (7:45pm KO) unless stated:
Blackburn Rovers vs Queens Park Rangers
Brentford vs Nottingham Forest
Cardiff City vs West Bromwich Albion
Hull City vs Huddersfield Town
Leeds United vs Millwall
Luton Town vs Derby County
Wigan Athletic vs Sheffield Wednesday