Reading will be hoping to get back to winning ways this afternoon after a disappointing midweek loss to Bristol City, as the Royals take on Coventry City in the West Midlands this afternoon.
Although last weekend’s win against Preston North End was a major boost during what has been a tough summer at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, Tuesday night undid some of that hard work and they will want to get back on track against the Sky Blues.
This will be a difficult task though, with Mark Robins’ side finishing in a strong position last season and looking to re-establish themselves as a solid second-tier side in the seasons that lie ahead. Can they win another three points? Or will it be the Royals that come out of this tie victory? We’ll have to wait and see on that one.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this afternoon’s kick-off.
What? Championship Matchday 4
Who? Coventry City
Where? Coventry Building Society Arena
When? Saturday 21st August
Opposition Manager? Mark Robins
After missing a late penalty at Barnsley last weekend, Coventry did well to bounce back with a win at Bloomfield Road against Blackpool in midweek. Many teams would have crumbled after such a setback - but they have continued to exceed expectations like they did last season and are now in a strong position to kick on.
Losing Leo Ostigard and Sam McCallum in defence after the expiration of their loan deals in the summer must have been a blow - but the latter’s replacement Ian Maatsen looks like an exciting temporary addition from Chelsea and the impressive free signing of Martyn Waghorn at the other end of the pitch could pay dividends.
And considering the contrast between where they were a few years ago with their off-the-field problems to now, they can be proud of their current situation. Mark Robins has played a big part in this success, winning two promotions in just a few years in the West Midlands.
What a frustrating night on Tuesday. We pretty much lost the game within the first 15 minutes due to the fact we can’t defend. Many people will call for signings in defence - and I have to say left-back is still a top priority - but you can’t just add new players and expect our backline to automatically improve.
Without adequate coaching, teams will always find a way to score against you. So in this sense, bringing in new defenders would be like putting lipstick on a pig, it just wouldn’t work. Let’s hope John O’Shea isn’t as much of a miss as people seem to think.
One positive to come from this season so far though is Femi Azeez - and he’s become a player we can rely on as a first-choice option. At a time when we really needed a youngster to step up in a certain position, he’s been the man to do so. He’s been the 2021/22 version of last season’s Tom Holmes - and with Lucas Joao set to remain out for some time - he gives us a different option going forward.
One To Watch: Viktor Gyökeres
After seeing Sam Surridge score on the opening day and Andreas Weimann bag a brace on Tuesday evening, I’m starting to believe my ‘one to watch’ section is becoming a bit of a curse to the Royals.
This week, I’ve gone with Viktor Gyökeres who spent last season on loan at Coventry before making his move to the West Midlands from Brighton & Hove Albion permanent in the summer. He was the man who missed the late penalty against Barnsley last weekend, but scored on the opening day against Nottingham Forest to change the game before responding well to his miss at Oakwell to score in the 1-0 victory against Blackpool on Tuesday night.
For both of his goals, he seemed to find himself in the perfect spot, so as well as keeping an eye on the experienced Martyn Waghorn, Gyökeres will also provide a threat that Reading need to deal with. But if the Berkshire outfit continue to defend like they did in midweek, he’ll be in with a good chance of getting on the scoresheet again.
The Last Meeting
Reading 3-0 Coventry City
- Coventry City are unbeaten in seven of their last nine league games - not a bad record to say the least.
- All three of the Sky Blues’ league games so far this season have been won by a single goal. Expect it to be a tight affair this afternoon.
- Reading have lost just one of their previous 12 games against this afternoon’s opponents. But their 3-2 home victory against Veljko Paunovic’s side just goes to show what they are capable of.
- The Royals have conceded 10 goals in their four competitive league games so far this season. We are far too leaky at the back for my liking - and it’s time to put that right today in what will be a tough test
My Reading lineup: Rafael, Bristow, McIntyre, Morrison, Holmes, Yiadom, Rinomhota, Laurent, Swift, Azeez, Clarke
Despite conceding three goals in midweek, Rafael couldn’t really do anything about any of them and because of that, you can’t drop him this weekend. He keeps his place for now, but it will be interesting to see whether Luke Southwood gets more of a go in the latter stages of the season with the Brazilian’s contract expiring in under 12 months. Jokull Andresson also looks like a talented prospect, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him be involved next season either.
At centre-back, Tom Holmes comes in for Liam Moore who had a shaky night on Tuesday by all accounts, with Michael Morrison and Tom McIntyre joining him in the heart of defence. The only thing that worries me with this backline is pace, but hopefully we can adapt to counteract this potential weakness. Ethan Bristow retains his place at left wing-back, with Andy Yiadom on the other side.
In midfield, Andy Rinomhota links up with Josh Laurent again, with John Swift starting in a more advanced position. It would be tempting to give Tom Dele-Bashiru a go in his place just to wrap Swift up in cotton wool - but you can’t really drop him after seeing him perform so well in the opening stages of this campaign.
And Jahmari Clarke gets his first senior start up top with Femi Azeez. They might be an inexperienced duo - but George Puscas didn’t do anything in midweek and doesn’t deserve to start in this one.
Moving on to the score prediction, this will be a very tough game against a capable side and they’ve shown they can compete in most second-tier games. However, Veljko Paunovic will be demanding a response from his players after Tuesday night and after seeing their 2020/21 go downhill after Coventry (a), there will be no shortage of motivation to do well in this one.
Summer signings Tom Dele-Bashiru and Junior Hoilett could be the difference this afternoon.
Score Prediction: Coventry City 1-2 Reading
Other Championship Fixtures
All Saturday 21st August (3pm KO) unless stated:
Queens Park Rangers vs Barnsley (12:30pm KO)
Blackburn Rovers vs West Bromwich Albion
AFC Bournemouth vs Blackpool
Cardiff City vs Millwall
Derby County vs Middlesbrough
Fulham vs Hull City
Luton Town vs Birmingham City
Preston North End vs Peterborough United
Sheffield United vs Huddersfield Town
Stoke City vs Nottingham Forest