Reading will be desperate to get three points on the board this afternoon as they face Bristol City, with both sides looking to achieve higher finishes than they were able to last season.
The hosts have taken just one point from a possible 12 in their last four league games - a very disappointing return considering how well they did during the early stages of the season. Some of the performances just haven’t been up to scratch - and they will want to get themselves out of this rut before the World Cup break comes along.
This could also be a crucial period for Nigel Pearson’s side as well - because they are in midtable at this stage and will want to be pushing at the top end of the division under a previous promotion-winning manager.
It remains to be seen who can take the three points today - but we have some facts and thoughts ahead of kick-off.
What? Championship Matchday 16
Who? Bristol City
Where? Select Car Leasing Stadium
When? Saturday 22nd October
Opposition Manager? Nigel Pearson
After taking a 2-0 lead in midweek, we simply had to raise our game because we didn’t deserve to be drawing at that point, let alone winning. Unfortunately, we just seemed scared of the Swans and that’s a shame considering how poor they were defensively, showing their vulnerabilities despite the fact we barely managed to get forward. If we had managed to get ourselves forward a bit more, we could have scored three or four on the night but in all truth, we didn’t deserve anything from the match.
We didn’t press enough, we sat far too deep, we weren’t brilliant defensively and throughout the 90 minutes, we just weren’t good enough.
Our injury situation doesn’t help - but that can’t be used as an excuse for recent performances because we didn’t deserve anything from the past three games. Today gives us a chance to rectify that - but the visitors can be a real threat in the final third and that’s something we need to be wary of this afternoon.
The Robins would make many people envious with their options in the final third, with Andreas Weimann always a threat, Tommy Conway establishing himself as a real asset in front of goal, Antoine Semenyo proving his worth last season and Nahki Wells managing to force his way back into Pearson’s first-team plans.
Their summer transfer business also has to be admired, with Kal Naismith coming in for free along with Mark Sykes, and Kane Wilson joining from Forest Green Rovers after impressing on the right-hand side under Rob Edwards last season. Recruiting well within a limited budget, that will only benefit them in the future as they look to abide by the EFL’s financial rules.
Their defence can be dodgy at times though with Naismith making a few costly errors - and that’s disappointing considering they were also poor at the back last season. In the end, that could be detrimental to a potential play-off push, so they need to tighten up quickly to give themselves the best chance of success.
They will fancy themselves to win another three points today though following their victory at West Bromwich Albion in midweek, with this confidence potentially making them favourites to come out on top in Berkshire.
Opposition Player I’d Like: Andreas Weimann
He may not have been in the best form recently but the Austrian’s record can’t be doubted, managing to register 22 goals and 10 assists in the Championship last term. That’s impressive considering he was only just coming back from an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
His versatility is also a big advantage for the Robins, able to operate out wide, as a number 10 and a striker, also popping up at wing-back on one or two occasions.
It does feel as though the Royals would benefit from having the ex-Aston Villa man in an advanced midfield role with his goalscoring pedigree and the amount of experience he has under his belt in the top two tiers of English football.
It’s just a shame we won’t be able to afford him and even if he was given the opportunity to join us in Berkshire, he probably wouldn’t be keen to. We aren’t exactly a step up from Bristol City.
The Last Meeting
Bristol City 2-1 Reading
Starting XI: Lumley, Guinness-Walker, McIntyre, Holmes, Mbengue, Hoilett, Loum, Fornah, Ince, Carroll, Meite
It has to be Joe Lumley in goal once more with Dean Bouzanis not doing a huge amount against West Brom to keep his starting spot.
There are more dilemmas for Paul Ince in central defence with Andy Yiadom injured though. It probably wouldn’t be the worst idea to switch to a back four but with Baba Rahman, Nesta Guinness-Walker and Junior Hoilett potentially suited to a more attacking role, the back three system should be retained.
Tom McIntyre, Tom Holmes and Amadou Mbengue start in central defence, with Guinness-Walker and Hoilett on either side.
In midfield, Jeff Hendrick comes out, allowing Tom Ince to come into an advanced midfield role with Tyrese Fornah and Mamadou Loum behind him.
And up top, Andy Carroll comes back in to partner Yakou Meite. Both have started alongside each other before, so it shouldn’t take them too long to get on the same wavelength.
Score prediction time! I’m not hugely confident about today but hopefully we can get a point on the board.
Score Prediction: Reading 2-2 Bristol City
Here are my Championship predictions for this weekend:
Blackpool 1-2 Preston North End
Blackburn Rovers 0-1 Birmingham City
Middlesbrough 3-1 Huddersfield Town
Millwall 2-0 West Bromwich Albion
Queens Park Rangers 3-0 Wigan Athletic
Rotherham United 1-2 Hull City
Sheffield United 2-1 Norwich City
Stoke City 2-2 Coventry City
Sunderland 1-2 Burnley
Swansea City 2-0 Cardiff City
Watford 1-2 Luton Town