Reading make the trip to Wales this Friday night, when they take on Cardiff City in the Welsh capital.
After a disappointing loss on Tuesday night, the Royals will need to pick themselves up fairly quickly if they are to get anything from Friday’s fixture. A 1-1 win against the home side last week in the FA Cup will give them confidence, especially considering that the Royals played a largely changed side. Meanwhile, Cardiff City will need to turn draws in to wins if they are to properly challenge for the playoffs under Neil Harris.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the clash at the Cardiff City Stadium.
What? Championship Matchday 30
Who? Cardiff City
Where? The Cardiff City Stadium
When? Friday 31st January 2020 (7:45pm KO)
League Form Record
Cardiff City: WLDDW
Although Cardiff City have lost just one of their last five league games, the loss was a 6-1 drubbing away to Queens Park Rangers. That’s a huge warning to a Cardiff City side who can’t afford to become complacent this Friday. Failing to reach the playoffs would be a disappointment for a side that were in the Premier League not so long ago.
Danny Ward, Lee Peltier and Joe Ralls all missed the last game against West Bromwich Albion, and Ralls was the one who picked up a hip injury at the Madejski Stadium last weekend. However, all three have a chance of making the squad for this Friday’s clash. Meanwhile, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing is set to miss the rest of the season with a serious hamstring injury.
Although we had that exceptional run over the Christmas period, everything feels slightly doom and gloom after midweek’s home loss against Bristol City. A loss of good form can always turn in to a downward spiral, although Mark Bowen will be very keen to avoid this. Can we cause a slight upset this Friday and take all three points back to Berkshire?
There’s mixed news on the injury/suspensions front for the Royals. The bad news: Lucas Joao remains a long-term absentee, whilst Matt Miazga is likely to be out for a number of weeks with a ankle ligament damage.
Danny Loader is also a doubt with a foot injury. Now for some good news: Tom McIntyre could return to the matchday squad this Friday after serving his one-match suspension against Bristol City. Andy Yiadom may also return for the Hull City game in our next league match after Friday’s game.
The last meeting
Reading 1-1 Cardiff City
Callum Paterson fired the away side in to the lead within five minutes after latching on to a header across the face of goal. However, Yakou Meite equalised for the Royals just a few minutes later when he volleyed his own first touch in to the back of the net, after an emotional week for the Ivorian.
Meite had another golden opportunity to put the Royals ahead which was snuffed out by Smithies, before having another goal chalked off. Was it offside? I’m not so sure. However, it was the Royals that had to hang on in the last ten minutes, when Tom McIntyre was sent off for a second bookable offence. As Tim Dellor said on BBC Berks, McIntyre looked mortified when he was sent off.
Omar Richards, Gabriel Osho, Andre Burley and Teddy Howe – take a bow for your defensive performance late on. They also had Sol Bamba to thank, who missed an absolute sitter late on.
- Cardiff City have kept two clean sheets in the last ten away games. Can Baldock help Puscas to get on the scoresheet in Cardiff?
- The Bluebirds have lost just one of their 14 home games in the league so far this season.
- Reading are unbeaten in their last seven games against Cardiff City. Have I just jinxed us?
- However, the Royals remain winless in their last four Championship games.
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Blackett, Moore, Morrison, Gunter, Pele, Swift, Ejaria, Olise, Baldock, Puscas
This is probably one of the toughest lineups to predict so far this season. Puscas on his own up front clearly isn’t working, but we’ll need to be as solid at the back as possible with a tie against a decent Cardiff City side. Arguably, our wingers (if we decide to opt for a wing-based system) will be vital. Whilst it’s essential that they provide an attacking threat in the offensive phase to give the Royals a different option, they will also need to track back to support both Tyler Blackett and Chris Gunter.
Although Omar Richards played well enough against Cardiff last weekend, Tyler Blackett is still likely to retain his place. Having Obita, Blackett and Richards as options at left back is giving Mark Bowen a real headache, I can imagine. With Matt Miazga out, Liam Moore and Michael Morrison must feel like they’ve solidified their place in the starting eleven. Let’s hope Tom McInytre can keep them on their toes. Gunter keeps his place again.
Pele and Rinomhota? Pele and Swift? Swift and Rinomhota? Adam and Rinomhota? The Royals have plenty of options in midfield, but selecting just two players to play in central midfield must be especially difficult. I’ve gone for Pele and Swift, although Rinomhota could be close to winning his place back in the starting lineup. Pele has improved a lot since the summer, whilst John Swift adapted to a deeper role in central midfield earlier on in the season.
Picking the wingers was also quite a challenging task. Although I want to see Jordan Obita playing as much as possible, it was harder leaving Ovie Ejaria out the side. He may start on the left, with the promising Michael Olise starting on the right. We really need a threat on the wings – let’s hope the duo can provide that.
Sam Baldock could come in to the starting eleven to start alongside George Puscas, who has struggled up front on his own. Baldock has revived his Reading career and deserves a place in the league starting lineup. However, the change of tactics may not be enough for the Royals to avoid defeat this Friday. I’m going to go with a 2-0 defeat away in Wales.
Score Prediction: Cardiff City 2-0 Reading
Other Championship fixtures
Friday 31st January (7:45pm KO):
Derby County vs Stoke City
Saturday 1st February (3pm KO unless stated):
Hull City vs Brentford (12:30pm KO)
Birmingham City vs Nottingham Forest
Charlton Athletic vs Barnsley
Fulham vs Huddersfield Town
Leeds United vs Wigan Athletic
Middlesbrough vs Blackburn Rovers
Preston North End vs Swansea City
Queens Park Rangers vs Bristol City
Sheffield Wednesday vs Millwall
West Bromwich Albion vs Luton Town