Unbeaten Reading make the long trip to Lancashire today, as they face Tony Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.
On paper, this is looking like one of the Royals’ toughest games so far this season, although this evening’s away side will look to do everything they can to stretch their unbeaten run. If Reading can get something out of this game, it will be a fantastic achievement and will only help to build even more momentum ahead of the Coventry City game on Friday.
This is a big game - but which player from either side can step up to the plate and make all the difference? We will have to wait and see.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this tie.
What? Championship Matchday 8
Who? Blackburn Rovers
Where? Ewood Park
When? Tuesday 27th October
Opposition Manager? Tony Mowbray
Blackburn Rovers: WDLLW
Although the Lancashire side are only 10th at this moment in time, they could be a real threat this season. Two consecutive losses against Nottingham Forest (1-0 home) and Watford (3-1 away) have hindered their progress - but their 4-0 away win against Coventry City at the weekend shows just how much of a threat they can be going forward. Adam Armstrong is performing well this season and is joint-top Championship goalscorer with Ivan Toney at the moment, with seven goals to his name in 2020/21.
Tony Mowbray made four changes to his starting lineup for the Coventry game, with Barry Douglas (who made his debut), Tom Tyrbull (who made his first start), Derrick Williams and Joe Rankin-Costello all coming in. The latter played extremely well in place of Ryan Nyambe at right back, who is also very highly rated. They could all start yet again, with Ben Brereton and Liverpool loanee Harvey Elliott providing a major threat up front alongside Armstrong. All this just shows how much of a challenge Reading face tonight. They will need to be at it right from the very start.
This is just getting silly now! It feels like a FIFA career mode - where you set your difficulty low and try to absolutely destroy the league. From the results alone, it seems like that - but the performances also need to be analysed and it’s clear we have not been at our best at stages in the past couple of games. Our first half showing against Wycombe Wanderers last Tuesday was quite poor - and so was the opening 45 against Rotherham United. However, the fact we managed to stay solid at the back is a great achievement and only one thing matters - getting the three points.
Let’s move on to injury news. Tom Holmes was absent from Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury, although he could be in contention to play in this game. Sam Baldock also joins John Swift, Andy Yiadom and Felipe Araruna on the sidelines - and it will be great to have them back fully fit in the next few months. It was also good to see Ovie Ejaria in the starting lineup after suffering with cramp last Tuesday. Hopefully we can minimise any further injuries in the next four games before the international break.
The Last Meeting
Blackburn Rovers 4-3 Reading
This is a really entertaining game, so instead of reading my commentary, sit back and enjoy the highlights of this match.
Two more things. It’s strange to think this turned out to be Mark Bowen’s penultimate league game in charge of the club in mid-July - although we were dire in the closing stages of the 2019/20 season in all fairness.
Finally, let me give you the starting lineup for this game: Rafael, Richards, McIntyre, Blackett, Morrison, Gunter, Rinomhota, Swift, Olise, Meite, Puscas.
The Last League Match
Reading 3-0 Rotherham United
This was a clinical performance from the home side, with a much improved second half securing another precious three points as Reading extended their lead at the top of the Championship table to five points.
In a first half dominated by Rotherham, the Berkshire side took the lead shortly before half time when Ovie Ejaria’s measured cross found Yakou Meite, who was free in the box to fire home. After missing a gilt-edged chance last Tuesday, this must have been a major boost for the winger, who continues to be a reliable source of goals.
Meite doubled his tally in the 79th minute, when he acrobatically converted Michael Olise’s corner to seal the game - and Reading would make it 3-0 when Lucas Jaoo converted a spot kick in stoppage time. Scoring three will be a big confidence boost going in to this game - let’s hope we can capitalise on that.
- Blackburn Rovers have scored four or more goals in three of their seven Championship matches so far this season. 4-0 away against Coventry City at the weekend, a 4-0 win against Derby County at Pride Park and a 5-0 victory at home to Luton Town.
- Therefore, it may not come as a shock that they are the best attacking side in the Championship so far this season, with 16 goals in the 2020/21 campaign so far.
- Tonight’s home side have won their last two league matches against Reading, although the Berkshire side were unbeaten in their past four meetings with Blackburn before that.
To finish off, let’s have a look at two Tweets which show how well the Royals have done so far this season:
✅ 0-2 vs. Derby— Talk Reading (@TalkReading) October 24, 2020
✅ 2-0 vs. Barnsley
✅ 1-2 vs. Cardiff
✅ 1-0 vs. Watford
0-0 vs. Middlesbrough
✅ 1-0 vs. Wycombe
✅ 3-0 vs. Rotherham
Joint best ever start to a Championship season.
Reading 2020/21 #readingfc pic.twitter.com/puJKNmcbSR
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Richards, Morrison, Moore, Esteves, Rinomhota, Laurent, Ejaria, Olise, Meite, Joao
The Royals made three changes at the weekend, as Championship teams continue to battle through their respective busy fixture lists. Tomas Esteves came in for Tom Holmes, who was out with a (seemingly) minor hamstring injury. Alfa Semedo came in for teenager Michael Olise and George Puscas came in for Lucas Joao.
Whilst there were concerns over how effective we would be without the Portuguese striker from the start, there was still a lot of optimism going in to this game. Even though our first half performance simply wasn’t up to scratch, we were clinical in front of goal - but will the Royals be able to replicate a result like this tonight? And who will start?
Rafael will start again, with Omar Richards, Liam Moore and Michael Morrison at the back as usual. Taking in to consideration Tom Holmes’ hamstring issues, I would also expect to see Tomas Esteves retain his place at right back. This will be a big challenge for the 18-year-old - but I think he will rise to the occasion and provide the Royals with an attacking threat out wide. You never know, he could prove to be the difference in what is set to be a major test for both sides.
Andy Rinomhota and Josh Laurent will continue their bromance in midfield, with Ovie Ejaria, Michael Olise and Yakou Meite in front of them. I think it’s fair to say Alfa Semedo didn’t have his best game against Rotherham United - and I think either him or Ejaria will be on the bench, with Olise likely to come back in.
I predict Semedo will be the one to make way but Ejaria may need a rest at some point with the heavy demands of the Championship. As I said in my Rotherham preview, Semedo was outstanding when he came on against Wycombe - and I hope he can bounce back and have a similar impact if he’s benched this evening.
Up front, Lucas Joao may replace George Puscas in the starting lineup, with the former winning and scoring a penalty in injury time on Saturday. Hopefully Joao can get himself in and amongst the goals this weekend because he’s proved to be an invaluable asset for us. Keeping him fit will be the challenge though - not helped by how busy our schedule is throughout the next couple of months. We can only pray he remains match fit for the foreseeable future.
Moving on to the score prediction, I think I may go for a draw for tonight’s game. Believe it or not (you probably won’t and I can fully understand that considering my track record on predictions), I nearly predicted the correct score on Saturday! Only Lucas Joao’s late penalty prevented that - but at least I have 39 more chances in this league campaign. I may also get lucky with an FA Cup score, who knows?
I’ll go for a goalless draw this evening.
Score Prediction: Blackburn Rovers 0-0 Reading
Tuesday 27th October (all 7:45pm KO unless stated):
Barnsley vs Queens Park Rangers (7pm KO)
Brentford vs Norwich City
Middlesbrough vs Coventry City
Swansea City vs Stoke City
Wycombe Wanderers vs Watford
Wednesday 28th October (all 7:45pm KO unless stated):
Preston North End vs Millwall (7pm KO)
Birmingham City vs Huddersfield Town
AFC Bournemouth vs Bristol City
Derby County vs Cardiff City
Luton Town vs Nottingham Forest
Rotherham United vs Sheffield Wednesday