Reading return for their third consecutive competitive game at the Select Car Leasing Stadium as they take on Nigel Pearson’s Bristol City this evening, hoping to add another three points to their league tally.
They take on a side who have only managed to get a single point on the board in their opening two games - but under a previous promotion-winning manager and a point to prove after a poor start to the season - they will be a dangerous force to come up against. The Royals will be hoping to use their home advantage to overcome the Robins and continue climbing up the Championship table - but can they secure another victory tonight?
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of matchday three at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
What? Championship Matchday 3
Who? Bristol City
Where? Select Car Leasing Stadium
When? Tuesday 17th August
Opposition Manager? Nigel Pearson
To get the win on Saturday evening was a fantastic boost - but we can’t stop there and just rest on our laurels. The Royals must utilise this win to propel them towards another three points and with the home advantage, they have every chance of secure consecutive victories. And despite the jubilation on Saturday afternoon, we must acknowledge the Preston performance was far from perfect.
Tonight is the time to continue improving and perhaps even give new arrival Tom Dele-Bashiru the opportunity to shine, ideally from the bench. The fact that he could come on in an advanced role and a more defensive position will give the Royals a huge boost considering their lack of squad depth - and could potentially make the difference late on if the home side needs a fresh injection of energy.
Although some people fear for Bristol City due to their torrid end to the 2020/21 campaign and their slow start to this season, it only feels like a matter of time before they get their first win, whether it’s in Berkshire tonight or elsewhere. They have made a few decent signings this summer, tying Nathan Baker down to a new deal after initially being released, bringing in Oxford United defender Rob Atkinson and signing former Leicester City pairing Andy King and Matty James.
After winning promotion with the Foxes in the last decade, the latter two could be vital in turning around their futures but particular attention should be paid to Atkinson, who Pearson clearly rates very highly.
You just feel they’re missing a main striker though after the departure of Famara Diedhiou, although it doesn’t seem like the Robins will bring anyone else in as things stand. That could all change with departures - but it’s their attack that could let them down this season. I still back them to improve on last season though - and it will be a tough test for the Royals tonight.
One To Watch: Andreas Weimann
Even though he suffered a gut-wrenching anterior cruciate ligament injury at the start of last season, Andreas Weimann was still offered a new three-year deal on the expiration of his deal at Ashton Gate and decided to remain with Nigel Pearson’s side.
Thankfully, he recovered well in pre-season and has started in the Robins’ opening two games of the Championship campaign. And after pretty much missing a whole season, he will be desperate to make up for lost time and get himself in and amongst the goals again.
He’s proven to be a reliable Championship option over the years for the likes of Derby County, Wolves and Bristol City - and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him grab his first goal of the season at the Select Car Leasing Stadium tonight. The Reading defence will need to keep an eye on him, along with fellow Royal Chris Martin who is likely to start up top for Pearson’s men.
The Last Meeting
Bristol City 0-2 Reading
- Reading have scored in each of their last five Championship games. Fair play to Pauno, we always seem to find a way to score.
- The Royals are unbeaten in 11 of their last 16 competitive fixtures against tonight’s opponents. A good omen or a deadly curse?
- Bristol City are winless in their last 12 Championship matches. Will it be an unlucky 13 for Reading?
- However, they did win their first four league games of last season. After going winless in their first two, can this form from last term inspire them to turn things around?
Predicted Reading lineup: Rafael, Bristow, McIntyre, Moore, Morrison, Yiadom, Rinomhota, Laurent, Swift, Azeez, Puscas
After a superb save in stoppage time on Saturday afternoon, Rafael has to retain his place in goal. Although it’s secured our victory, it’s almost frustrating to see that world-class stop. We know what he’s capable of, hopefully he can perform consistently this season like he did during the 2019/20 campaign and re-introduce himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the second tier.
At left wing-back, Ethan Bristow didn’t do anything on Saturday afternoon to warrant being dropped, so he has to start there again as we try to ease Ovie Ejaria back into first-team action slowly.
Tom McIntyre joins Michael Morrison and captain Liam Moore as we adopt a five at the back again, with Andy Yiadom taking his place on the right-hand side. With Bristow and Yiadom, we have two men who can get forward and be an attacking threat, which is exactly what we need if we are to continuing operating with three/five in defence.
In midfield, it can’t be anyone else other than the trusted pair of Andy Rinomhota or Josh Laurent, although it wouldn’t be a surprise to see one of them come off in the second half for new signing Tom Dele-Bashiru. Or he could potentially come on for John Swift, who has been Reading’s best player over the past two games and Veljko Paunovic will want to do everything he possibly can to protect his main source of creativity.
Although we do need to protect Swift, he has to start again whilst Ovie Ejaria works his way back to fitness, because we need at least one of the two on the pitch to create chances for those up front.
And this is where it gets difficult because Lucas Joao’s injury didn’t look good at all. In a surprise to some people, I put a striker near the top of Reading’s to-do list this summer and Joao’s injury is the reason why. We need another adequate option to complement the likes of Joao and George Puscas up top and without that, we may struggle especially with injuries. Puscas gets a go with Femi Azeez up top - and we can only hope the presence of the latter can help the Romanian thrive. A new striker before the end of the window would be preferable though.
Moving on to the score prediction, this is a tough one. You can never be fully confident when Nigel Pearson is in town but with Puscas having someone alongside him up front and our midfield three of Andy Rinomhota, Josh Laurent and John Swift in the middle of the park, we could potentially grab all three points today. We don’t tend to keep clean sheets but somehow, we nearly always find a way to score.
Because of this, I’ll have to go with a 1-1 draw in this one, but hopefully a win is on the cards!
Score Prediction: Reading 1-1 Bristol City
Other Championship Fixtures
Tuesday 17th August (7:45pm KO):
Barnsley vs Luton Town
Blackpool vs Coventry City
Huddersfield Town vs Preston North End
Millwall vs Fulham
Peterborough United vs Cardiff City
Swansea City vs Stoke City
Wednesday 18th August (All 7:45pm KO unless stated):
Birmingham City vs AFC Bournemouth
Hull City vs Derby County
Middlesbrough vs Queens Park Rangers
Nottingham Forest vs Blackburn Rovers
West Bromwich Albion vs Sheffield United (8pm KO)