After a narrow loss to Leeds United at the weekend, Reading will be looking to get back to winning ways back at the Madejski.
It’s safe to say the Royals are not yet out of the woods in terms of relegation, and that gap will only close if they suffer a defeat to Paul Cook’s Wigan Athletic this Wednesday. Although the Royals’ home form hasn’t been very good so far this season, contributing to their lower midtable league position, they will be favourites to take all three points against the Latics. Will they do it?
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this reasonably important Championship tie in Berkshire.
What? Championship Matchday 35
Who? Wigan Athletic
Where? Madejski Stadium
When? Wednesday 26th February 2020 (8pm KO)
League Form Record
Although our loss against Leeds United at Elland Road was inevitably disappointing, I don’t think anyone can complain with the shift that the Royals put in. We need that winning mentality back at the Madejski Stadium, and let’s hope we can start as we mean to go on against Wigan this Wednesday. The Berkshire side also face Barnsley this weekend – can we pick up all six points on offer this week? There will be major disappointment if we don’t. If we can secure these wins, the Royals will be all but safe. After years of relegation flirtation, Reading desperately need a comfortable finish in the league.
Things are starting to look a bit brighter for the Royals in terms of injuries. Pele, who was a major doubt for the game against Leeds, managed to come back in time to start at the weekend. Jordan Obita also returned to the matchday squad after picking up an ankle injury – all Reading fans will have breathed a sigh of relief when they saw he was back on the bench. Lucas Joao, Matt Miazga, Chris Gunter, Tom McIntyre and Lucas Boye are all recovering from their respective injuries, and will be hoping to return to the side sooner rather than later.
Wigan Athletic: WLDDW
The Greater Manchester side have done reasonably well lately, after finding themselves in a Championship relegation battle. With on-loan Brighton defender Leon Balogun and 23-year-old Cedric Kipre (Kipre is a dream on FIFA 20, go and buy him for your career mode) at the back, the Latics have a solid base to build on. Keep an eye out for young striker Joe Gelhardt – Premier League teams are currently interested in the 17-year-old who has represented England at youth level.
The absence of Kieran Dowell will be a big blow to Paul Cook, with the Everton loanee suffering an ankle injury in training. The midfielder is set to be on the sidelines for at least a few weeks. However, defender Antonee Robinson may be closing in on a return after starting his recovery from a groin injury. Robinson was subject of major interest from Italian giants AC Milan, and the two sides had agreed a fee for the American and he had been seen travelling to Italy to finalise the move, before the transfer collapsed at the last minute.
The Last Meeting
Wigan Athletic 1 – 3 Reading
A five-minute George Puscas hattrick proved to be the difference between two sides who wanted the win at the DW Stadium back in late-November of last year. Joe Garner opened the score in the first half for the home side, when he smashed in a rebound from a corner after Rafael had saved the initial effort on goal. You could tell how important the goal was just from looking at the forward’s face when he wheeled away in celebration.
However, it was the away side that would take all three points back to Berkshire. Lucas Boye’s flick made contact with the arm of Chey Dunkley. Puscas made no mistake from the spot-kick and put the Royals back on level terms. One minute later, he would be the man to slot home Reading’s second, after some good buildup play from Lucas Joao. His third would come just a few minutes later, when Garath McCleary capitalised on a Wigan error and send a brilliant cross in for Puscas to convert.
Three Reading goals, three Puscas goals and three points. What more could you ask for on an away day? After a tough start to the season, the travelling fans deserved that performance and the victory that came with it. Let’s hope for another three points this Wednesday.
- Wigan Athletic have won league more games in 2020 so far (4/9 league games) than they did from the start of the season up until the end of 2019 (3/25). This form could be vital in their attempts to escape relegation.
- The Latics have only one two of their 17 away league games so far this season. Can they make it three in Berkshire?
- Reading are unbeaten in their last five games against Wigan. Is this a good omen for the Royals?
- However, the Royals have won just two of their ten league games so far in this calendar year.
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Richards, Moore, Morrison, Yiadom, Pele, Swift, Ejaria, Olise, Meite, Puscas
Reading did very well up at Hillsborough, and Mark Bowen may aim to start a very similar to the side that started at Sheffield Wednesday. Pele wasn’t available for that game, although he’s likely to retain his place ahead of the visit of Wigan to give the backline some protection.
Rafael will start in goal again, with Omar Richards, Liam Moore, Michael Morrison and Andy Yiadom in line for another start after putting in a decent shift at Elland Road last weekend. Jordan Obita is likely to make the bench again, although he may make his first start since coming back from injury.
In midfielder, Pele and John Swift are almost certain to start again (barring any injuries), and Ovie Ejaria could return if he’s deemed fit to start on Wednesday, although Michael Olise hasn’t done anything wrong for him to be dropped. The young Frenchman played a role in the 3-0 win against Sheffield Wednesday. However, this would mean that Andy Rinomhota would miss out. Let’s hope not, as he’s a great player to have on the pitch.
Yakou Meite and George Puscas could also start again. Judging by comments on social media, Sam Baldock and Mark Bowen may have had an argument during the Leeds game. Let’s hope that’s not the case, as Baldock could be a very useful asset to have if we need more energy on the pitch against Paul Cook’s side. The forward offers something different – one of the many reasons why I’m glad we didn’t let him go last summer.
I’m going for a narrow 2-1 win this Wednesday, although Reading will need to be on their game. Wigan’s 1-0 win away at Leeds earlier this month is a stern warning of what Cook’s side can do away from home.
Score Prediction: Reading 2 – 1 Wigan Athletic
Other Championship fixtures on Wednesday (all 7:45pm)
Blackburn Rovers vs Stoke City
Fulham vs Swansea City
Hull City vs Barnsley
Middlesbrough vs Leeds United
Millwall vs Birmingham City
Sheffield Wednesday vs Charlton Athletic