Reading are back in action this afternoon as they face Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park, in what will be one of the Royals’ longest away trips of the campaign.
Everything was going so swimmingly at half-time on Wednesday night, looking set for our sixth win in seven league games after going 2-0 up. But a second-half capitulation left us pointless in a tie we should have won after Tom Dele-Bashiru’s goal - and we will be looking to make amends against a Blackburn side that have struggled recently after a good start to the campaign.
Who will come out on top in this tie though? Is an away win on the cards?
We have everything you need to know ahead of this afternoon’s Championship clash.
What? Championship Matchday 14
Who? Blackburn Rovers
Where? Ewood Park
When? Saturday 23rd October 2021
Opposition Manager? Tony Mowbray
Considering they have lost Adam Armstrong and Harvey Elliott since the end of last season, Rovers probably would have taken 13th position at this stage of the campaign. However, this is a decline from their early-season form, even climbing into the play-off zone at one point and looking threatening going forward with the likes of Ben Brereton Diaz, Sam Gallagher and Tyrhys Dolan in attack.
Although they were the underdogs going into their midweek tie against Queens Park Rangers away from home, Mowbray’s decision to try and frustrate the west London side and admission of that plan to the media after the game only went on to, well, shall we say boil the urine of many Blackburn fans.
This is a young team that has great potential, but a number of their players are out of contract at the end of the season and this could be detrimental to a side that will be hoping a squad of such youth can pay dividends for the long term.
Well, that was a horrible capitulation on Wednesday night but it happened for a variety of reasons. First of all, Blackpool were a decent side and even looked good in the first half, so fair play to Neil Critchley. Secondly, it looked as though our energy had been drained in the first half. And finally, our midfield didn’t do enough defensively. Signs of defensive vulnerability in the midfield were there in the Barnsley game when the Tykes broke forward - and we seem especially vulnerable on the counter attack.
Perhaps that’s to be expected with Danny Drinkwater in the side for all his strengths, but Josh Laurent also needs to step up and make sure he provides a defensive shield in front of Liam Moore and Scott Dann. It’s a massive shame Moore’s block in the first half didn’t count for anything in the end, because that was an exceptional bit of defending.
Just a quick word on George Puscas. I thought he was okay-ish on Wednesday night. He did excellently to set up the second goal and if I’m being honest, his miss in the second 45 shouldn’t be blamed for the result, in my opinion. I do get people’s frustrations with him though - and it will be interesting to see if he starts today. Let’s hope he can get himself on the scoresheet ASAP.
One to Watch: Ben Brereton Diaz
It turns out adding Diaz to your name can do you wonders.
But seriously, fair play to him for stepping up this season. After recording 12 goal contributions in total during the 2020/21 campaign, he is two away from matching that this season already and it definitely seems as though his exploits with Chile has given him the confidence to succeed.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the Premier League at some point, although consistency will be key if he wants to reach the top level.
He’s one man the Royals need to keep an eye on today because if they don’t, the 22-year-old will punish them. It seems insane he’s only 22, feels like he’s been around for ages. But his age means there’s still plenty of room for improvement and this is why he’ll probably be in the top flight sooner rather than later.
The Last Meeting
Reading 1-0 Blackburn Rovers
- Reading have scored in their last six competitive away ties against Blackburn Rovers. A good omen for today?
- Wednesday evening was the FIFTH time the Royals have conceded three or more goals in a Championship match this season, in 13 games.
- Blackburn Rovers have scored in 11 of their 13 league games so far this season.
- But Mowbray’s men have only kept two clean sheets in 13 games. Sets up nicely for a 0-0 then.
My Reading lineup: Southwood, Rahman, Moore, Dann, Yiadom, Drinkwater, Laurent, Ejaria, Swift, Dele-Bashiru, Azeez
If I’m honest, I’ve just copied and pasted this from my last match preview but I wouldn’t change anything.
Luke Southwood keeps his place in goal. Like Moore’s block, I feel sorry for him that his double save didn’t count for anything in the end. He almost saved the penalty too - but it proved to be just a bit too powerful.
Baba Rahman starts on the left as per, with Andy Yiadom on the right and Moore and Scott Dann in the middle. Tom Holmes may be back in the matchday squad, but even after conceding three goals, I wouldn’t change the centre-back pairing at the moment. Stability is probably the most important thing at the moment.
In the middle, Drinkwater and Laurent have to start again, although they do need to tighten up defensively as previously mentioned.
Ovie Ejaria needs to gain some sort of consistency, as probably mentioned in previous previews and John Swift also needs to become a key man after going quiet in the last couple of games. TDB starts on the right again though after scoring in midweek and Femi Azeez starts as the lone man up top.
It’ll probably be 0-0 after reeling off those stats in that previous section, but I’ll go with a 2-2 draw. Can’t see there being too much to separate the two sides. Famous last words...
Score Prediction: Blackburn Rovers 2-2 Reading
Other Championship Fixtures
All Saturday 23rd October (3pm KO) unless stated:
Cardiff City vs Middlesbrough (12:30pm KO)
Birmingham City vs Swansea City
Blackpool vs Preston North End
AFC Bournemouth vs Huddersfield Town
Coventry City vs Derby County
Luton Town vs Hull City
Millwall vs Stoke City
Peterborough United vs Queens Park Rangers
West Bromwich Albion vs Bristol City
Barnsley vs Sheffield United (Sunday 24th October; 12:30pm KO)
Nottingham Forest vs Fulham (Sunday 24th October; 3pm KO)