Reading return to the SCL Stadium this afternoon to face a high-flying Queens Park Rangers side, who will be desperate to continue building momentum after the international break in their fight for promotion this term.
For the Royals, it’s a different story. And for the moment, their short-term aim will be to drag themselves away from the relegation zone after a poor run of four defeats in their opening five league games. But can they realistically get their second win of the campaign against a side who are unbeaten so far this season? We’ll have to wait and see.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of matchday six of the 2021/22 Championship campaign.
What? Championship Matchday 6
Who? Queens Park Rangers
Where? Select Car Leasing Stadium
When? Saturday 11th September
Opposition Manager? Mark Warburton
The one big boost for the Royals is the fact they have three new signings yet to make their debut for the Royals in Scott Dann, Baba Rahman and Danny Drinkwater - and you have to say all three could be game-changers. Dann could provide a new face in a Reading defence that currently looks shaky, even with the usually-reliable Michael Morrison. Baba Rahman will give our defence some balance and ensure Andy Yiadom can play on the right-hand side. And Danny Drinkwater will provide healthy competition to the likes of Josh Laurent and Andy Rinomhota who were two guaranteed names on the teamsheet last term. Let’s hope this addition in the middle of the park can change our fortunes.
The signings alone may not change everything straight away though, especially against a side that are currently full of confidence from their early-season form. This is probably why we need to give Pauno a few more games before making a real judgement on his tenure - but at this stage - everyone needs to be accountable. The manager, the players, the coaching staff, the decision-makers at the top. Everyone. This is no time for scapegoats, we’re in our current situation for a catalogue of reasons. Now is the time to put that right.
Queens Park Rangers:
This is a side that were actually reasonably impressive last season, but went under the radar because of their finish in midtable. Their start to the 2020/21 season was iffy. but they did exceptionally well in the second half of the season. The main reason why the west London side were successful in the latter stages of the last campaign? They were able to turn draws into wins and if they want to remain in the top six throughout this year, they will need to continue in the same vein.
With the likes of Andre Gray, Lyndon Dykes and Charlie Austin up top, there’s no reason why they can’t do this and their threatening front line is something the Royals will need to keep eye on. At the other end of the pitch, they have two of their standout players in Seny Dieng and Rob Dickie ready to keep the likes of George Puscas and John Swift at bay, with the latter potentially coming back to haunt us at the Select Car Leasing Stadium this afternoon.
Oh, and Ilias Chair is fit for this game, so that should be fun...
One To Watch: Rob Dickie
I guess there’s only one man I could go for in this section, not just for his defensive capabilities but also for his goalscoring ability. He has scored four goals in seven competitive appearances so far this term, so our ability to defend set-pieces could determine whether he gets the chance to bag a goal against his former side. Although he probably still loves the club, there must be a part of him that wants to get on the scoresheet to show the club what they missed out on.
Fair play to the 25-year-old though. He was willing to take the step down, performed well at Oxford United and deservedly earned his move to the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium last September. He was the subject of interest from Premier League sides Leeds United and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the summer window, according to Football Insider. And if he can continue to improve at QPR, you feel it will only be a matter before he gets his move to the top flight.
Trust me, it depresses me too. A defence of AFC Bournemouth regular Jack Stacey, Luton Town man Gabriel Osho, Dickie and Omar Richards would have been the stuff of dreams for us academy enthusiasts.
The Last Meeting
Reading 1-1 Queens Park Rangers
- Reading have conceded three or more goals in four of their six competitive fixtures in 2021/22. Shocking really - the only one you could excuse was the Carabao Cup game.
- The Royals currently sit ten points behind where they were at this stage of last season.
- Queens Park Rangers are unbeaten in each one of their seven competitive fixtures so far this season.
- No 0-0 draws for them. They have scored in every one of these games, even without Andre Gray who joined on deadline day.
My lineup: Rafael, Rahman, Moore, Dann, Yiadom, Drinkwater, Laurent, Ejaria, Swift, Halilovic, Puscas
Ahead of this tie, I’ve started with four of Reading’s six summer signings, with Junior Hoilett and Tom Dele-Bashiru on the bench.
Between the sticks, it has to be Rafael again. He wasn’t at fault for any of the goals against Huddersfield - and I guess that just shows how bad the defence was that day.
He may have only just come from international duty, but to give us the best chance of winning, Baba Rahman has to come in on the left with fellow Ghanaian Andy Yiadom on the right. Scott Dann joins Liam Moore in the middle to shake up the central defence, although the latter deserves to be dropped. In saying that, he gives us the pace the likes of Tom Holmes and Michael Morrison probably won’t and that will be vital alongside Dann.
The central midfield needs a shake-up too, so Danny Drinkwater comes in for Andy Rinomhota. Josh Laurent could have also been dropped after recent performances, but it would be interesting to see how he gets on along a new central midfield partner in Drinkwater.
Ovie Ejaria also returns to the fold as an alternative creative outlet to John Swift, with Alen Halilovic also getting the nod from the start. Junior Hoilett could also easily be in this starting lineup as a different option down the wing against his former club, but he could potentially be a decent substitute against tiring legs instead.
Up front, George Puscas comes in again. Whilst I’m at it, I’ll look up the definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. The thing is, he has done well up top before - probably not enough - but we know he can do it. He needs a bit of confidence and a goal to set the tone for a brighter season, here’s hoping he can do that today, whether that’s from the penalty spot or wherever.
But that might not be enough to stop us from losing this one, because the two sides are in two different classes at this stage. Let’s hope the boys can prove me wrong!
Score Prediction: Reading 1-2 Queens Park Rangers
Other Championship Fixtures
All Saturday 11th September (3pm KO) unless stated:
Blackburn Rovers vs Luton Town
Blackpool vs Fulham
AFC Bournemouth vs Barnsley
Bristol City vs Preston North End
Coventry City vs Middlesbrough
Sheffield United vs Peterborough United
Stoke City vs Huddersfield Town
Swansea City vs Hull City
West Bromwich Albion vs Millwall
Nottingham Forest vs Cardiff City (Sunday 12th September; 2:30pm KO)