After their fourth round replay win against Cardiff City on Tuesday night, Reading return to league action this weekend to face Grant McCann’s Hull City.
At the moment, just one point separates the two sides, with Hull City and Reading currently placed in 14th and 15th respectively. The Royals have the home advantage this weekend and will leapfrog their opponents if they win all three points. Last time out, the Tigers suffered a 5-1 mauling at home to Cardiff and will need to bounce back strongly if they are to get anything out of this weekend’s game. Anything other than a win would be seen as a disappointment for Mark Bowen’s side.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the clash at the Madejski Stadium between the two sides.
What? Championship Matchday 31
Who? Hull City
Where? Madejski Stadium
When? Saturday 8th February 2020 (3pm KO)
League Form Record
Although it’s a great feeling getting to the fifth round of the FA Cup, the Royals will still need to be firmly focused on their league performances. If they continue this winless run for much longer, the club will inevitably fall down the table. What Reading are crying out for is a comfortable midtable finish, after the relegation scraps over the past few seasons. A 1-1 draw away to Cardiff City last Friday night was commendable, now it’s time to build on it and grab the three points this weekend. This would cap off a great week for the Berkshire side so far.
Liam Moore (foot), Tom McIntyre (concussion), Ovie Ejaria (illness) are all expected to return to the matchday squad on Saturday after suffering from various injuries. These injuries led to their omission on Tuesday against Cardiff City in Wales. However, Lucas Boye is expected to be out for at least one month after suffering a hernia problem.
There was talk on social media of his Reading career potentially coming to a premature end. However, with this fresh news, it’s likely that Boye will see out the remainder of his loan spell. Lucas Joao, Danny Loader and Matt Miazga remain sidelined with injury.
Hull City: WLLLL
Deadline day departures of Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki to West Ham and West Brom were a huge blow for Hull City fans, who were seen as two of the club’s key players. The loan arrival of Marcus Maddison was a small consolation for the Tigers, with the midfield being the subject of Championship interest for a number of seasons before his move to the KCOM Stadium on last week. Their recent form has done little to boost morale in Yorkshire and they will be desperate to stop the rot at the Madejski Stadium this Saturday.
Callum Elder and Jordi De Wijs could return to face the Royals this Saturday, with the former being more likely to be included in the squad in the short term. Martin Samuelson is expected to miss the game, although his return does not seem to be too far away. The same applies to midfield duo Kevin Stewart and Jon Toral, although Josh Bowler might not return to the first team squad for a number of months.
The Last Meeting
Hull City 2 – 1 Reading
An early mistake from Joao Virginia proved to be disastrous for the Royals, with Jarrod Bowen capitalising on the error and converting the easiest goal he’ll ever score to put the home side 1-0 up within ten minutes. Things didn’t get any better for the Royals early on, and a bullet header from an unmarked Jackson Irvine doubled Hull’s lead on the 15 minute mark.
Lucas Joao nearly halved the deficit a minute or two later, striking the post after executing an expertly-timed half volley. On 66 minutes, Joao did get on the scoresheet, controlling a great long ball from John Swift before cutting in and striking past George Long in the Hull City goal. However, this wasn’t enough to spark a comeback for the Royals, who had lost both of their opening games after the final whistle at the KCOM Stadium.
This was a huge disappointment for Jose Gomes’ side, who finished the 2018/19 season strongly before crumbling in the first half of this season.
- Since signing his contract extension, Mark Bowen has endured a four-game winless run in the Championship. Can they rectify this at the weekend?
- Reading have only won one of their last ten Championship games against Hull City.
- Hull City have lost their last four Championship league games. Will this woeful form continue on Saturday, and potentially beyond?
- In these past four losses, they have only managed to score two goals. The goals may start to dry up with Bowen and Grosicki’s departures.
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael; Blackett, McIntyre, Morrison, Moore, Gunter; Pele, Swift, Ejaria, Obita; Baldock, Meite.
Although Mark Bowen played a reasonably strong side at Cardiff City in the FA Cup replay, I can’t see him making any changes to the side that played last Friday in the Championship edition of Cardiff City vs Reading. Rafael will retain his league place in between the sticks, despite Sam Walker’s penalty shootout heroics.
Tyler Blackett was impressive at left wing-back late on in the FA Cup replay and could start there again, with Chris Gunter on the other side. Will Andy Yiadom return this weekend? I’m sure Bowen will be looking to ease him back in slowly after suffering a quite severe injury. Tom McIntyre, Liam Moore and Michael Morrison are in contention to start in a back three again, although both McIntyre and Moore missed the cup game through injury.
Pele and John Swift will be looking to play a key part in the heart of midfield, whilst Jordan Obita and Ovie Ejaria could cause Hull City all sorts of problems. Ejaria’s trickery and Obita’s dead ball deliveries will be hard to deal with – will the away side stand up to the stern test?
Up front, Sam Baldock and Yakou Meite are likely to start in front of Romanian George Puscas, who didn’t do anything on Tuesday night to suggest that he’ll be starting again this weekend. Meite has been in decent form lately, let’s hope that he keeps this momentum and pops up at the vital times as we reach the business end of this season.
In terms of the score prediction, I don’t think it will be as easy as it seems. Although Hull City lost two of their most influential players on deadline day, they will be hoping to bounce back this weekend after their 5-1 hammering at home last Saturday. Don’t be surprised if you see both of the new signings in the squad for the home side.
Score Prediction: Reading 2-1 Hull City
Other Championship fixtures
All Saturday 8th February (3pm KO) unless stated:
Bristol City vs Birmingham City (Friday 7th February 7:45pm KO)
Wigan Athletic vs Preston North End (12:30pm KO)
Barnsley vs Sheffield Wednesday (1:30pm KO)
Blackburn Rovers vs Fulham
Brentford vs Middlesbrough
Huddersfield Town vs Queens Park Rangers
Luton Town vs Cardiff City
Stoke City vs Charlton Athletic
Swansea City vs Derby County
Nottingham Forest vs Leeds United (5:30pm KO)
Millwall vs West Bromwich Albion (Sunday 9th February 1:30pm KO)