Reading return to Championship action at the Select Car Leasing Stadium for the first time during the 2021/22 campaign, where they will take on Frankie McAvoy’s Preston North End.
Today’s visitors lost 4-1 at home to Hull City last weekend in what was a nightmare start to their season, but the Royals haven’t fared much better in their opening two competitive matches, conceding six goals in two games. Considering many of our academy players started in the 3-0 Swansea City loss in midweek, maybe that’s a harsh stat to put out there.
But with the home advantage and the arrival of Tom Dele-Bashiru on Thursday, the Royals will be hoping to take advantage of this double boost and win all three points this afternoon. Can they do it though? We’ll soon see.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this clash.
What? Championship Matchday 2
Who? Preston North End
Where? Select Car Leasing Stadium
When? Saturday 14th August 2021
Opposition Manager? Frankie McAvoy
For me, it was the right decision to make ten changes on Tuesday. Even with Dele-Bashiru through the door, we still can’t afford to suffer any severe injuries and it would have been nothing short of catastrophic had one of our first-teamers ended their season with an innocuous challenge in a Carabao Cup tie.
This midweek break has probably given the likes of John Swift and Ovie Ejaria a chance to recover from their respective injuries - and helped to give the team early respite ahead of what looks to be another gruelling Championship season. With this, they will be refreshed and ready to return to league action at the Select Car Leasing Stadium and can only help to give them an edge going into this tie.
They need a point or three on the board after a disappointing opening day defeat and with the quality in their first 11, there’s no reason why they can’t take control in the early stages and take a one or two goal lead. The only concern I’d have is our depth and the lack of threat we have from the bench. This is why we may find things difficult in the latter stages of the game.
Preston North End:
Preston are probably one striker away from finishing in a much higher position this season.
They have already recruited well at the back, bringing in the likes of Sepp van den Berg, Liam Lindsay and Matthew Olosunde to bolster their back five. Leicester City shot-stopper Daniel Iversen has also finally re-joined the Lilywhites after remaining at the King Power Stadium for much of the summer due to Kasper Schmeichel and Danny Ward’s participation in the European Championships.
Izzy Brown, who also arrived at Deepdale during the summer, is currently out with a ruptured Achilles which is a blow for Frankie McAvoy but he still has other forwards including Ched Evans and Scott Sinclair as potential options to utilise up front. The latter has been a particular pain to the Royals over the years, scoring in Preston’s 3-0 win at the SCL last season and bagging himself a hat-trick in that 2011 play-off final defeat against Swansea City.
One To Watch: Emil Riis
My ‘one to watch’ against Stoke City went on to get the winner for the Potters last weekend, so let’s hope the theme doesn’t continue here.
Emil Riis has scored twice in the Lancashire side’s two competitive fixtures this season and will be hoping to continue on that trajectory after a disappointing first campaign in England.
The Danish forward admitted to Lancashire Live that he’s a confidence player so it’s no wonder he struggled to get going throughout the entirety of the 2020/21 season. But with his record in the past week, the 23-year-old’s confidence will be sky high and that’s what the Royals need to be careful of this afternoon.
Along with Sinclair, he was another goalscorer in their 3-0 away win at Reading last November and will be confident of getting another one now he’s finally found his feet and spent time away from social media.
The Last Meeting
Preston North End 0-0 Reading
- Reading conceded 54 goals in 46 league games last season which ended up costing them a place in the top six and after seeing their first two games, it looks like their defence could cost them again without reinforcements.
- The Royals have won one of their last seven Championship games against today’s opponents. Can they build on this impressive record today?
- Preston North End won 13 points from a possible 15 in their last five games of the 2020/21 campaign. Their supporters will be hoping last weekend was just a blip.
- However, they did lose 21 games in the second tier last term. This is more than 17th and 18th place Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City. Just one of these losses came under McAvoy though after taking charge in late March.
Reading lineup: Rafael, McIntyre, Moore, Morrison, Yiadom, Rinomhota, Laurent, Ejaria, Swift, Azeez, Joao
We can only pray Ovie Ejaria comes back into the squad for this clash after sustaining an injury against Crystal Palace, but new signing Tom Dele-Bashiru only makes the bench after joining on Thursday.
Rafael has to get the nod this afternoon despite a semi-impressive performance from Luke Southwood in midweek, although there were questions about his role in Stoke City’s second goal. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one with the deflection but critics of the shot-stopper will only get louder if he puts in a sub-par performance today. I can’t help but feel we should back him as much as we can though, because slating him on social media can’t be beneficial to his mindset and with that, his performances.
At left-back, Tom McIntyre comes in to operate as a defensive shield out wide after seeing his side start the season in poor defensive shape, with Michael Morrison and Liam Moore in the centre.
Andy Yiadom remains out wide to give us the best of both worlds - and it’s great to have someone who can both defend and attack so well. He’s one of many players out of contract in less than 12 months, so we need to get him tied down to a new deal before a team swoops in and manages to lure him away from the SCL.
In the centre, Andy Rinomhota and Josh Laurent start in the heart of midfield despite Dele-Bashiru’s arrival, who will probably take his place on the bench after officially joining the club less than 48 hours ago. Not throwing him straight into the action will give the 21-year-old Watford loanee the chance to work with Veljko Paunovic beforehand, although he could get 10 or 15 minutes at the end of the game to make his mark.
In front of the usual duo, John Swift retains his place in the centre after controlling things in the middle for the Royals at the bet365 Stadium last weekend, with Ovie Ejaria (hopefully) returning on the left and Femi Azeez taking his place on the right to give us something different out wide. All three had injury worries in the lead up to this game, so let’s just hope all three have recovered from their respective knocks.
Up top, Lucas Joao starts again ahead of George Puscas who was unable to make any sort of impact on the Swansea game in midweek. The former suffered a dislocated shoulder for the third time in 12 months at Stoke which will be a concern, but hopefully he can play through the pain and return to the form he showed during the 2020/21 campaign.
Score prediction time. Despite Preston’s emphatic win against Mansfield Town in midweek, you just feel the Royals have received a boost with Dele-Bashiru’s arrival and have the starting 11 capable of doing a job today. We shouldn’t underestimate Frankie McAvoy’s side because they’re a solid side and have the potential to go on to better things this term - but we need a bit of confidence and hopefully today will be the start of a brighter future in Berkshire. We’ll soon see, but I’ll go with a narrow 1-0 win.
Score Prediction: Reading 1-0 Preston North End
Other Championship Fixtures
All Saturday 14th August (3pm KO) unless stated:
Peterborough United vs Derby County (12:30pm)
Barnsley vs Coventry City
Birmingham City vs Stoke City
Blackpool vs Cardiff City
Huddersfield Town vs Fulham
Hull City vs Queens Park Rangers
Middlesbrough vs Bristol City
Millwall vs Blackburn Rovers
Nottingham Forest vs AFC Bournemouth
West Bromwich Albion vs Luton Town
Swansea City vs Sheffield United (8pm KO)