Reading will be looking to continue their momentum this afternoon as they face an in-form Hull City side, with a win for either side helping to ease their respective relegation worries.
This weekend’s visitors have won their last four matches after previously looking doomed, seemingly being galvanised by their pending takeover and are beginning to turn their season around with a number of their squad members firing on all cylinders.
Meanwhile, the hosts come into this game having secured a precious 3-2 away victory at Swansea City last weekend, coming away with all three points against all odds and will be desperate to build on that this weekend as they return to Berkshire.
Who will come out on top in this one though? It looks set to be a close tie, so we’ll have to wait and see.
For now, here’s everything you need to know ahead of this afternoon’s clash at the SCL.
What? Championship Matchday 21
Who? Hull City
Where? Select Car Leasing Stadium
When? Saturday 4th December 2021
Opposition Manager? Grant McCann
What a fantastic result last weekend. They may not be favourites for automatic promotion, but Swansea had been in fine fettle before last weekend and were growing in confidence with each game as Russell Martin continues to stamp his authority on the South Wales outfit’s squad. If I’m honest, I wasn’t a fan of Tom Dele-Bashiru on the wing until the last game, but he looked a real threat on the wing and took his goal superbly, and was perhaps unlucky not to get a second after hitting the post.
Sticking with a back four was also a surprise after the Sheffield United horror show, but it was arguably enforced with Liam Moore’s injury. Fair play to Veljko Paunovic though, because we fought bravely and broke forward in an exciting manner. Whether we deserved to win the game was another matter, but we were clinical and after such a turgid performance just a few days before that, it was the perfect response.
But what we need more than anything else right now is the C-word. No, not that one - we need consistency. It sounds harsh because last Saturday’s result was a good achievement, but that game means nothing if we can’t follow that up with a draw or victory today. Only consistency can get us away from the relegation zone in a quick manner, now is the time to get another three points on the board.
What a difference a few weeks can make. Previously looking as though they would be dragged down with Barnsley and Derby County into the category of relegation favourites, they have been a completely different team after switching to a back three.
Chelsea loanee Nathan Baxter has been superb between the sticks, keeping three clean sheets in four games and conceding just once, centre-back Jacob Greaves has played his part in that defensive record, Keane Lewis-Potter continues to look like a threat down the wing amid Premier League interest and George Honeyman has been crucial going forward for the Tigers, scoring three goals in his last four matches.
The latter two will be particularly crucial to the East Yorkshire side’s cause going forward, although it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Greaves, Sean McLoughlin and Di’Shon Bernard remain solid at the back too. The latter was particularly impressive against Barnsley not so long ago, keeping things simple and soaking up the Tykes’ pressure well. If I had one bit of advice for the opposition today, it would be this: keep it simple. It may be their style, but Swansea overplayed in our last outing and got punished for it.
Oh, and lastly, congratulations to the club on their expected takeover. At least there won’t be more attempts to rename them Hull City Tigers!
Here’s how they may line up:
One to Watch: George Honeyman
As mentioned, advanced midfielder Honeyman has scored three goals in his last four matches and will probably be an even bigger attacking threat than the likes of Josh Magennis, Mallik Wilks and Tom Eaves.
Of course Baxter and Greaves deserve to be mentioned for their work at the back, but what they have going forward will probably decide this game, so the ‘one to watch’ this week was between Honeyman and Lewis-Potter.
However, the latter has already received plenty of attention from several Premier League sides in recent months including Brentford, Leicester City, West Ham United and Southampton, so I’m going with the former.
Get Josh Laurent on him and let him do a George Evans/Tom Cairney (play-off semi-final second leg) job on him. Marking him out of the game will greatly increase the Royals’ chances of winning a point or three.
The Last Meeting
Reading 1-1 Hull City
- Reading have won just one of their last 12 competitive meetings with today’s opponents. Not the best record.
- However, both teams have scored in their last meeting, potentially setting up an exciting game full of goals. If I was a gambling man, I’d have a fiver on BTTS if the odds were decent enough.
- The Tigers have fired blanks in seven of their ten away games in the Championship so far this season. But they have scored in their last two.
- They have also kept six clean sheets in 20 games. Not bad for a team that were previously relegation favourites.
My Reading lineup: Southwood, Rahman, Dann, Holmes, Yiadom, Laurent, Drinkwater, Swift, Dele-Bashiru, Halilovic, Carroll
Death, taxes and Luke Southwood between the sticks. Three certainties - let’s hope he can retain his current form because he’s been exceptional and deserves all the plaudits he’s getting right now.
The back four remains the same, though the opening goal last weekend is one they need to look at with Jamie Paterson having plenty of space to take the ball past Southwood and score. Liam Moore remains out, so he won’t be featuring in the matchday squad this afternoon.
In defensive midfield, Josh Laurent starts again and will be tasked with keeping Honeyman quiet, arguably the most important task for any Royal today. At times, Danny Drinkwater may need to step back to fill any gaps left by Laurent, but that’s something he can easily do with John Swift playing higher up.
Dele-Bashiru and Halilovic start as the hosts’ wide options once again, with Andy Carroll retaining his place up top.
I have to admit I like a 3-4-2-1 when everyone’s fit and with Laurent available, we could still play a back three. But I did tell Pauno to pick a main system and stick with it - and to be honest - having a flat back four will allow a midfielder to pick up Honeyman and will prevent Lewis-Potter running in the space between the wing-back and central defender, where he could be the most dangerous.
Moving on to the score prediction, it was a tough one this week. Grant McCann’s fine are in fine form and have the ability to hurt the Royals, but I’m going with an optimistic 2-1 victory. Let’s hope they’re proving me right instead of wrong for once! We can hope. Swift and Carroll to get the goals.
Score Prediction: Reading 2-1 Hull City
Rainbow Laces Campaign
Ahead of our #RainbowLaces fixture against Hull this Saturday, we spoke to Matchday Stand Supervisor Tom, about life in Club 1871, the importance of inclusivity to the LGTBQ+ community, and his hopes of setting up - an LGBTQ+ fanbase for Royals fans! pic.twitter.com/EwhJCJ25yf— Reading FC (@ReadingFC) December 3, 2021
If you can, watch this video. Everyone has nothing but good things to say about the chap, so fair play to him, he speaks brilliantly. And it’s great to see the club promote equality.
Homophobia is unacceptable - and should always be called as we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our LGBTQ+ fans against discriminatory behaviour. I just hope Tom can be an inspiration to everyone.
Tolerance matters, education matters, fairness matters and equality matters. No one should feel intimidated coming to a football match.
One tribute to potentially look out for at the SCL
| NEW: Aston Villa will pay tribute to Arthur Labinjo-Hughes with a sixth-minute applause at Villa Park on Sunday pic.twitter.com/zmMy0grwIm— Football For All (@FootballlForAll) December 3, 2021
Other Championship Fixtures
All Saturday 4th December (3pm KO) unless stated:
Coventry City vs West Bromwich Albion (12:30pm KO)
Barnsley vs Huddersfield Town
Blackburn Rovers vs Preston North End
Blackpool vs Luton Town
Bristol City vs Derby County
Cardiff City vs Sheffield United
Middlesbrough vs Swansea City
Millwall vs Birmingham City
Nottingham Forest vs Peterborough United
Queens Park Rangers vs Stoke City (Sunday 5th November; 2:30pm KO)