Reading are in for a very tricky test this weekend, when they travel to Yorkshire to face promotion-chasing side Leeds United at Elland Road.
Just like the Royals, Marcelo Bielsa’s side has suffered a huge dip in form in 2020, which has put them at risk of dropping out of the automatic promotion places. This meeting may have come at the worst time for the Whites, with the away side coming to Elland Road off the back of an impressive 3-0 away win at Sheffield Wednesday. Reading don’t really have anything to lose this weekend, and that could work in their favour as they look to upset the odds this Saturday.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this highly-anticipated clash between the two sides. Nothing to lose, and potentially, quite a lot to gain out of this tie.
What? Championship Matchday 34
Who? Leeds United
Where? Elland Road
When? Saturday 22nd February 2020 (3pm KO)
League Form Record
Leeds United: WLLDW
Leeds United’s win against Bristol City last weekend was much-needed, after their loss of form. The club will be keen to avoid slipping out of the automatic promotion places like last year for two very important reasons. 1. So the club can be promoted back to the Premier League for the first time in decades and; 2. To secure Marcelo Bielsa’s future at the club.
Although it’s unclear as to whether the Argentine would leave if Leeds were to miss out on promotion again, rumours about an exit are never far away.
Adam Forshaw is set to be the only absentee this weekend, with the club looking to put another three points on the board this weekend. Because there isn’t much to report on injury news, let me just say this. Leeds United – you will be unable to charge nearly £40 for a ticket next season.
Why not start early in lowering prices for away fans? Without fans, you (and football in general) would not be what it is today. Get it sorted please, you have a great stadium. Make it more affordable for people to come and watch a game at Elland Road. That is all.
Managerial appointments at Reading have seemingly become like getting in to a new relationship. You’re desperate for it to work, you have high hopes that it’ll last but the trust issues remain from the previous managerial appointments/relationships that haven’t worked out. That’s the best way I can describe my thoughts towards Mark Bowen.
After our poor start to 2020, to come to Hillsborough, keep a clean sheet and win 3-0 was impressive. We need some consistency if I’m to have any confidence going in to next season, but last weekend was another three points closer to safety and no one can complain about that.
On the injury front, things are not looking all that bright for the Royals. Pele missed out last weekend with a groin injury and is a doubt for the trip to Elland Road, although the away side has a number of options in midfield. Reading suffered another injury blow when it was discovered that Jordan Obita had suffered an ankle injury – he is expected to miss out this weekend if his injury is as bad as first feared.
Meanwhile, Matt Miazga, Chris Gunter, Lucas Joao and Lucas Boye are all expected to remain on the sidelines until March, with Tom McIntyre also out with a foot injury.
The Last Meeting
Reading 0 – 1 Leeds United
A late Jack Harrison winner caused heartbreak for a brave home side who had fought right until the end.
Although Leeds United had their own chances to take the lead, including when they hit the crossbar, the Royals also had numerous attacking moves. They looked enthusiastic and rejuvenated from a great start in Mark Bowen’s tenure, and could have won the game of things had gone different in that November evening.
Yakou Meite’s low cross early on was narrowly missed by George Puscas who had made a long run in an attempt to get in to a goalscoring position. Michael Morrison also had a half chance in the box after the ball broke loose from a free kick, before Swift had an attempt saved from a set piece. However, the Berkshire side could not find an opening and were made to pay in the 87th minute when Jack Harrison converted from a Helder Costa cross.
- Leeds United have won just two of their eight league fixtures so far in 2020. A poor stat for Bielsa’s men.
- Three of their eight Championship losses this season have come at Elland Road. Could Reading pull off a shock win?
- The Royals have won just two of their last ten meetings against Leeds United. They will be the underdogs again this weekend.
- Reading have lost just five of their 17 away league fixtures this term. That’s quite impressive for a side who currently sit in midtable.
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Richards, Moore, Morrison, Yiadom, Rinomhota, Swift, Ejaria, Olise, Meite, Puscas
After the perfect away performance against Sheffield Wednesday last weekend, Mark Bowen may opt to keep his lineup unchanged to retain some consistency and stability in the side. Michael Olise played well enough at Hillsborough to start again this weekend, and it would be a great reward for the 18 year old who has stepped up to the plate this season when required.
Omar Richards also played well last weekend and may keep his place in the first team ahead of Tyler Blackett, as well as Jordan Obita who is currently out with injury. Michael Morrison has also played quite a few games with the absence of both Matt Miazga and Tom McIntyre. Meanwhile, Andy Yiadom has had a full week to recover from last Saturday’s match, after playing twice in a reasonably short space of time considering the injury he’s just come back from.
Meanwhile, Andy Rinomhota showed exactly why he should be a first-team regular against Sheffield Wednesday with an energetic display in the middle of the park. John Swift is likely to start alongside him again this weekend, with Ovie Ejaria, Michael Olise and Yakou Meite providing support to George Puscas.
I’m feeling very optimistic this weekend. All the pressure will be on the home side this weekend to produce a result, with Fulham currently sitting just three points behind in third place at this moment in time. Leeds United have a lot of quality and we will need to be on our A game, but if we can capitalise on any errors, we could produce the shock result of the Championship this weekend. It would be the perfect way to continue our momentum after our 3-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday. Let’s take three points back to Berkshire!
Score Prediction: Leeds United 0 – 1 Reading
Other Championship fixtures
All Saturday 22nd February (3pm KO) unless stated:
Derby County vs Fulham (Friday 21st February 7:45pm KO)
Brentford vs Blackburn Rovers (12:30pm KO)
Birmingham City vs Sheffield Wednesday
Bristol City vs West Bromwich Albion
Charlton Athletic vs Luton Town
Nottingham Forest vs Queens Park Rangers
Preston North End vs Hull City
Stoke City vs Cardiff City
Swansea City vs Huddersfield Town (the Wembley heartbreak derby)
Wigan Athletic vs Millwall