Reading are in midweek action once again as they face Luton Town at the SCL Stadium this evening.
This game was supposed to take place in December to celebrate our 150th anniversary - but there isn’t exactly a party atmosphere in the fanbase right now after some poor results and turbulence off the pitch. Nothing seems to be going right at the moment, but the Royals will sink to new depths if they lose again tonight with relegation a real possibility unless they can get their act together.
Luton, on the other hand, are in a stable position at this stage and may be the favourites going into this one based on the two side’s contrasting league positions and off-the-field situations. They will be desperate to take all three points back to Kenilworth Road - but will they be able to do it?
We can’t tell you that - but we do have everything you need to know ahead of tonight’s Championship clash.
What? Championship Matchday 26
Who? Luton Town
Where? Select Car Leasing Stadium
When? Wednesday 19th January 2022
Opposition Manager? Nathan Jones
The clock continues to tick down on Mr Dai being able to save his tenure at the SCL - and now is the time for action. Some people argued that those who wanted transparency complained about getting just that through the Liam Moore statement on Saturday night. In my view, there’s a big difference between outlining your strategic vision as opposed to randomly outing a player.
Some would argue it’s about time people knew about the situation - and I commend the club for letting the fans know that he’s effectively handed in a transfer request. But there’s a way to word it - and this statement seemed quite unprofessional in parts.
Nonetheless, the ownership gets a couple more weeks to do the right thing. A failure to make the necessary changes and communicate with fans about key things will make the atmosphere worse. Now is the time for Dai to show that he isn’t fully disconnected from the club’s fanbase and actually starts to put the building blocks in place to make the club a better place to operate.
They can’t do that unless Kia Joorabchian is removed from any position he may hold at the SCL. There is a chance he may not be playing the huge role behind the scenes that many people believe he is - but there’s no smoke without fire and I would rather overreact if it meant getting real change. Being proactive rather than reactive is the key for us fans and regardless of who the super-agent is, the super-agent model is one I don’t like anyway. Wolves may have had success with it - but I don’t think it’s any way to run a club.
I do have to hold myself accountable here - because back in September 2020 - I believed he could play a very small role, though in defence of myself, I did stress that his role needed to be very limited (still feel quite guilty in fairness!). My view on that evolved over time to a point where I had made my mind up before things really started to kick off this year on social media. Confiding in other fans on KJ, my view has only been cemented further.
Now, Dai can still rescue things and most of us would get behind him if he makes the right decisions in the coming weeks. But after February 1st, the deadline I believe needs to be met for real change to happen, I would probably prefer someone else to take the reins if things behind the scenes don’t improve dramatically.
This is the problem though: who will take on our debts? It remains to be seen.
I would usually write this section exclusively for TTE - but I took part in an interview with the Oak Road Hatter boys and had plenty of good things to say about them. Here’s a snippet of what I said:
The first thing that strikes me about Luton is not what you have on the pitch, but what you’ve got off it: stability. I know that won’t be taken for granted by your lot after past financial struggles - but it’s something we need at RFC and we haven’t got that at the moment.
Not only do you have a manager that looks like he will be at Kenilworth Road (and your new stadium!) for the long term, but some of your players are severely underrated and you seem to be sound financially. Some would argue that you don’t have the best squad in the league - but you have the togetherness that took us up during the 2011/12 season even though we didn’t have the strongest team on paper.
That should be a real source of encouragement to you - and some of your forward players are particularly threatening. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Elijah Adebayo and Harry Cornick take the step up to the Premier League at some point - and although it won’t provide much comfort to you to see one of your players linked with a move away - I’m glad the Adebayo/Newcastle link emerged. You’re finally getting recognition and rightly so.
One to Watch: Elijah Adebayo
Although Adebayo may not be clinching the headlines like Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ben Brereton Diaz this season, he has still been a wonderful asset to Jones’ side in Bedfordshire and has deservedly been linked with a move to Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United.
Chris Wood’s arrival at St James’ Park probably rules out a potential transfer to Tyneside - but that may benefit the 24-year-old who will have an extended time in the Championship to prove he can take the step up at some point.
Scoring 10 goals in 21 league appearances this term, his goalscoring pedigree and aerial threat will be a major pain in the backside - and a baptism of fire for Michael Morrison if he returns to the starting lineup.
The Last Meeting
Luton Town 0-0 Reading
- Reading have conceded two goals or more in each of their four matches in 22 so far. The goal difference of this calendar year if you count Kidderminster as a league game? -9.
- The Royals have gone unbeaten in their last four league games against tonight’s opponents. You know what’s coming tonight then...
- Luton have scored three or more goals in three of their last four competitive matches. That should be a warning to the hosts.
- They have gone unbeaten in these four competitive matches, an impressive stat considering they have faced the likes of Fulham and Bournemouth recently.
My Reading lineup: Southwood, Tetek, Laurent, Morrison, Holmes, Rinomhota, Dele-Bashiru, Swift, Camara, Clarke, Puscas
Here’s the lineup I would go for, not the one I think Pauno will put out.
Should Luke Southwood have saved the equaliser at the weekend? Perhaps there’s a case there - but he did pull off some vital saves as well so he will be retaining his place between the sticks, especially with Rafael also leaving the club. It will be interesting to see who’s his understudy on the bench.
At left wing-back, it has to be Dejan Tetek with Ethan Bristow perhaps not ready for regular first-team football yet. The latter can be exciting when driving forward - but his defensive skills also have to be on point and he was probably beaten far too easily by Isaiah Jones for the winner at the Riverside. Andy Rinomhota starts in Tetek’s position on the right, although you would want him in the middle sooner rather than later when more options emerge.
In the middle, Michael Morrison comes in after starting for the under-23s last week, with Josh Laurent staying in the back three after doing reasonably well on Teesside and Tom Holmes taking his place on the right-hand side. Having Morrison back could be huge if he can replicate his 2019/20 and 2020/21 form. One person who isn’t expected back is Liam Moore, I think that’s safe to say.
Rinomhota coming out of the midfield means John Swift drops into a deeper position, potentially helping to shake things up in the middle of the park. The latter needs to be more influential in games - and taking up a deeper position could help him to get involved a bit more. In fairness, he’s probably lucky not to be dropped. Either him or Drinkwater could come out of the lineup with no real complaints. Tom Dele-Bashiru starts alongside the Royals’ main talisman this term.
Swift’s attacking midfield role becomes vacant in that case - and Mamadi Camara deserves a start after putting in some decent displays recently.
It would also be good to see Jahmari Clarke given a go - and although there is the temptation to put Lucas Joao up top following his return - it will probably be George Puscas who gets the nod considering how long Joao was out for. That’s fine though - because I want to see how Puscas performs in a two with the height of Clarke.
Moving on to the score prediction, this was a hard one to guess. Luton will be buzzing coming into this match following their victory at the weekend - but I also fancy the Royals to perform reasonably well - so I’ll go with a 1-1 draw. A win would be ideal though.
Score Prediction: Reading 1-1 Luton Town
Other Championship Fixture
The only other fixture to take place this evening comes in the form of another rearranged game, with Hull City playing host to high-flyers Blackburn Rovers at the MKM Stadium. Reading fans will be hoping for an away win in that one to keep the Tigers as far down the table as possible.