Reading face a huge task this weekend, as they look to bounce back from three consecutive defeats against Jason Tindall’s AFC Bournemouth.
Eddie Howe’s former assistant Tindall has done a fine job in steadying the ship on the south coast after relegation from the Premier League - and it looks as though they will be in contention to bounce straight back if they can keep up their current form. However, this Saturday’s away side will be hoping to spring somewhat of a surprise this weekend and cling on to their slender lead at the top of the Championship table. Who will come out on top though?
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this weekend’s tie.
What? Championship Matchday 12
Who? AFC Bournemouth
Where? Vitality Stadium
When? Saturday 21st November 2020
Opposition Manager? Jason Tindall
After losing their last three games, the Royals would have been hoping for a slightly more favourable fixture to come their way straight after the international break. However, no game in the Championship is easy and if we are to put ourselves in contention to be in and around the promotion mix, we must step up to the plate in games like these and show what we can do. There’s one thing we must improve on: our defence. If we can keep a clean sheet or concede just one goal against a bright attacking side, we will be able to restore some much-needed confidence at the back. This is easier said than done though, especially with current injuries.
We all thought Jonathan Low would bring us some good news after the international break - but it looks like Liam Moore, Ovie Ejaria and Yakou Meite may all miss this weekend’s game. Over the past few seasons, we have had so many injuries - and it has always taken players longer than expected to make a full recovery. Many other fans have noticed this too. Perhaps it’s time to take a deeper look in to this problem. In other news, Tom Holmes could be in contention to return for the Bristol City game later on this month, although John Swift and Felipe Araruna remain on the sidelines for the foreseeable future.
AFC Bournemouth: DWDLW
I tell you what, if Bournemouth can turn draws in to wins, they will be favourites for an automatic promotion spot with the likes of Watford and Norwich City. Just two points separate Reading in first and the Cherries in fourth, making it an important clash for both sides this early on in the season. After suffering defeat against Sheffield Wednesday in their penultimate game before the break to a Barry Bannan penalty, they managed to get back to winning ways against Birmingham City in their last fixture. Arnaut Danjuma scored early for Bournemouth, with David Brooks adding a brace to secure the three points at St Andrew’s.
Brooks will be looking to move on from previous long-term injury woes which have impacted his career in the last couple of seasons. The manager will be wary of starting the Welshman in every fixture coming up, with previous long-term injuries and a busy schedule not exactly going hand in hand. Tindall will also be keeping an eye on Lewis Cook, who had to have stitches on his shin after being on the end of a heavy challenge against Birmingham. Regardless of injuries they have throughout the season though, they look like a strong team - and we will be facing a familiar this weekend.
Rodrigo Riquelme, who was due to sign on loan for Reading until Bournemouth made an approach, is likely to be on the bench this weekend. It will be interesting to see whether he actually makes an appearance.
The Last Meeting
Reading 0-1 AFC Bournemouth
I actually remember this game quite vividly. There were thousands of Bournemouth supporters who made the trip that night, with the Cherries on the brink of promotion to the Premier League at that point. It was a remarkable achievement for a side who had climbed their way back up the leagues to get themselves in this position. Callum Wilson scored early on, which was enough to take all three points that day.
And despite being relegated this season, they are in such a good position to go straight back up and it has to be said, they did very well under Eddie Howe to stay in the Premier League for so long.
Let me give you the Reading lineup from that day before we move on: Federici, Obita, Pearce, Hector, Gunter, Ake, Chalobah, Karacan, McCleary, Mackie, Robson-Kanu.
The Last League Match
Reading 0-3 Stoke City
Should we just pretend this game didn’t happen? Well, we need to learn from this to be fair. Three errors cost us in this game - and Bournemouth will punish us for them just as much if we make similar mistakes this weekend.
Tyrese Campbell and Steven Fletcher put the Potters 2-0 up before half time, with Jacob Brown capitalising on a Lewis Gibson error in the 95th minute to make matters worse for the side in the blue and white hoops.
- AFC Bournemouth have lost just one of their 11 Championship games. Turning draws in to wins will be key.
- In these 11 games, they have conceded just nine goals - not a bad record at all.
- Reading have failed to win any of their last seven fixtures against this weekend’s opponents. Maybe that could help to take the pressure of expectation off the squad?
- After conceding nine goals in their previous three games, the Royals will be looking to tighten things up at the back.
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Richards, Gibson, Morrison, Yiadom, Rinomhota, Laurent, Aluko, Semedo, Olise, Joao
Ugh, these injuries are frustration - that’s the first thing I will say in this section. But let’s take a look at who could start.
Rafael continues in goal again, although he needs to cut out avoidable errors if he wants to keep Luke Southwood at bay. For me, the Brazilian is the best goalkeeper in the league - now is the time for him to push on and make some game-changing saves.
Omar Richards will continue at left back, with Michael Morrison and Lewis Gibson as the central defensive duo. After making an appearance against Stoke City, Andy Yiadom is likely to come back in to the starting lineup. Although we need to give Tomas Esteves a chance every so often, it would be good to have Yiadom’s defensive ability and leadership at the back to provide an extra layer of protection.
In midfield, Andy Rinomhota and Josh Laurent need to re-build the wall they were renowned for before the three losses, with Sone Aluko, Alfa Semedo and Michael Olise in the attacking three behind Lucas Joao. In all fairness to Semedo, he was pretty good in stages against Stoke City - but it would be good to have the Benfica loanee and Sone Aluko on the bench ready to make an impact with Ejaria and Meite starting as soon as they come back. Having a strong bench will be crucial in the next couple of months - and with the likes of Puscas, Aluko and Semedo all ready to come on when needed, we could vital points in the latter stages of many games this season.
As I said, Lucas Joao continues in attack for me ahead of George Puscas - and I hope the international break has given the Portuguese forward the chance to continue nursing his dislocated shoulder. Because he’s played through it, I’ve almost forgotten about that injury he picked up at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Right, score prediction. Unfortunately, I nearly managed to get my first correct score prediction of the season against Stoke - and would have done if it wasn’t for the away side’s late third. To be honest, I really do not like betting against my own team at any time, even against Premier League sides. However, this will be a tough task for the away side this weekend - and although I think we will get ourselves on the scoresheet - we may just fall to a narrow 2-1 defeat. I’m sure we will start picking up points soon though - but remember the curse of the TV cameras...
Score Prediction: AFC Bournemouth 2-1 Reading
Other Championship Fixtures
All Saturday 21st November (3pm KO) unless stated:
Barnsley vs Nottingham Forest
Bristol City vs Derby County
Luton Town vs Blackburn Rovers
Middlesbrough vs Norwich City
Millwall vs Cardiff City
Preston North End vs Sheffield Wednesday
Queens Park Rangers vs Watford
Stoke City vs Huddersfield Town
Swansea City vs Rotherham United
Wycombe Wanderers vs Brentford