The Royals travel to Lancashire in their final Saturday game of the season, as Reading and Blackburn face off at Ewood Park this weekend.
Both sides are guaranteed to be in the Championship next season and four points separate the sides currently. An away win would reduce that gap to just a single point – but regardless of this weekend’s outcome – this will be seen as another solid season for Blackburn Rovers under Tony Mowbray.
They have missed out on one big thing though: the Scottish Pirlo. That’s right – Charlie Adam went on trial with Rovers last summer before signing for the Royals. Could he feature this weekend?
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this fixture.
What? Championship Matchday 45
Who? Blackburn Rovers
Where? Ewood Park
When? Saturday 18th July 2020 (3pm KO)
Blackburn Rovers: LLWDL
Since lockdown, Blackburn have won just two of their seven league games, losing four and drawing one. After a decent mid-season spell, this is a disappointing run of form for the home side, although they will be thankful to retain their status as a Championship side once again going in to next season. Under Tony Mowbray, they seem like a solid second tier side and are now in a stable position despite their decline over the past decade.
According to reports, Rovers are currently in the race to sign former FC Nurnberg midfielder Patrick Erras, after his contract with the German club expired less than a week ago. However, Mowbray’s side face strong competition from promotion contenders Leeds United and Bundesliga side Werder Bremen for his signature. Several other Championship sides are also in the running so they will need to get this deal wrapped up pretty quickly!
Tuesday’s loss was a very disappointing one, especially against Neil Warnock. Confidence was high after remaining unbeaten against Luton, Huddersfield and Charlton – and we all thought we were on course for another win when Liam Moore scored on his return to the starting lineup. However, it was not meant to be and we now go in to this game on the back of that defeat after previously keeping three consecutive clean sheets.
Charlie Adam, Ovie Ejaria, Andy Yiadom and Lucas Joao were all absent for the visit of Middlesbrough, which is a big shame for Mark Bowen and the side who may be wanting to start their strongest 11 in preparation for next season. The latter three are likely to be starters next season – and you have to say Adam would have been in contention for a start against Middlesbrough if he was fit. There are also serious doubts over whether Pele will play for the club again after suffering a grade one hamstring injury.
The last meeting
Reading 1-2 Blackburn Rovers
Blackburn Rovers took an early lead last September when Adam Armstrong struck an absolute scorcher past Rafael in the Reading goal. George Puscas nearly levelled it for the home side but Rovers also had the chance to double their lead just after when Danny Graham’s shot narrowly went over.
However, they did go on to double their lead early in the second half when Bradley Dack’s deflected left Rafael with no chance. Reading halved the deficit ten minutes later when John Swift’s well-placed shot ended up in the away side’s net. However, this was not enough for the Royals and the poor form under Jose Gomes continued.
You can’t class this as anything else other than another nail in Jose Gomes’ coffin as Reading manager. After a promising run against the likes of West Brom and Huddersfield, this was so disappointing, especially at home.
- Blackburn have won just three of their nine home games in 2020 so far. Can the Berkshire side capitalise on this?
- Rovers were unbeaten in eight consecutive league games between November and December. Should they have done better than they have this season?
- Reading are unbeaten in four of their last five games against this weekend’s home side. A good omen or a bad curse?
- The Royals have kept a clean sheet in their last two away games. Can they make it three in their final match away from the Madejski Stadium this season?
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Blackett, McIntyre, Morrison, Osho, Moore, Rinomhota, Swift, Olise, Meite, Puscas
Even though we suffered defeat on Tuesday, I think Bowen will persist with the same starting lineup and he will be keen to keep the club captain in the starting lineup. Tyler Blackett started again unlike my prediction in the last match preview – and he could start in the remaining two league games on the season in place of Omar Richards.
It would be good to see McIntyre and Osho also retain their places on the team sheet – and I hope the duo have not lost confidence despite the loss. Going up against a Neil Warnock side is a great experience for any young Championship player regardless of whether he retires in the near future or not.
Michael Morrison will have also been an important figure in helping the young defenders settle in either side of him – and he should be commended for some of his performances over the season. He has been a shrewd signing and I remember a lot of people being underwhelmed by the announcement of his signing, possibly because they thought his unveiling was for Miazga instead.
Andy Rinomhota and John Swift will start again, probably with Olise and Meite out wide again if Ovie Ejaria is absent once again. One position that will be interesting is that striker spot. Bowen was clearly not happy with either Puscas or Baldock on Tuesday – but the former is more likely to start this weekend.
I predicted a win on Tuesday – how wrong was I (as per). Going to sit on the fence and get splinters because I honestly have no idea what will happen on Saturday – hopefully we can take something away from Ewood Park. I’ll go with a 1-1 draw!
Score Prediction: Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Reading
Other Championship fixtures
All fixtures Saturday 18th July 2020 (3pm KO) unless stated:
Huddersfield Town vs West Bromwich Albion (Friday 17th June 5:30pm KO)
Charlton Athletic vs Wigan Athletic (12:30pm KO)
Stoke City vs Brentford (12:30pm KO)
Fulham vs Sheffield Wednesday
Hull City vs Luton Town
Middlesbrough vs Cardiff City
Preston North End vs Birmingham City
Queens Park Rangers vs Millwall
Swansea City vs Bristol City
Derby County vs Leeds United (Sunday 19th June 2pm KO)
Barnsley vs Nottingham Forest (Sunday 19th June 3pm KO)