Reading will be desperate to get at least a point on the board this afternoon as they take on Hull City, with both teams keen to end this set of games on a positive note ahead of the World Cup.
The hosts will climb above the Royals with a victory today, something that would be a huge blow considering the visitors were in a much better position than today’s opponents not so long ago. It’s Hull who have all of the momentum coming into this tie following a 3-2 victory against Cardiff City in midweek - but will they be able to capitalise on this to win another three points?
We’ll have to wait and see.
Ahead of kick-off, we have some facts and thoughts for you as usual!
What? Championship Matchday 21
Who? Hull City
Where? MKM Stadium
When? Saturday 12th November
Opposition Manager? Liam Rosenior
Hull seem to be in a much better situation than they were under the Allam family, even if their league position doesn’t suggest that at this stage. Not only do they have a very talented manager in Liam Rosenior at the helm - but they also have owner Acun Ilicali who seems to be happy to invest.
Ilicali does need to ensure he doesn’t get too involved though - and that’s the only major concern I have regarding the Turkish businessman. It’s clear his heart is in the right place - but intervening too much could be costly so he needs to find an ideal balance between stepping in when needed and leaving things alone when required.
In terms of the playing squad, they still need time to settle down because quite a lot of signings were made during the summer transfer window and you have to remember their former star player Keane Lewis-Potter also left the club.
One promising thing for them though is the fact they have Rosenior at the helm. He’s an extremely talented coach - and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him enjoy a successful managerial career.
It’s difficult to get excited for this game to be honest.
We haven’t done anywhere near enough in the final third and that’s been the most frustrating thing in recent weeks. The Burnley loss was understandable - but we could have easily claimed a win at Luton and potentially a draw at Watford if we had shown more quality.
Unfortunately, our lack of invention means we find ourselves in our current situation. Working so hard to get into a strong position, our recent form has undone a lot of that and that’s another reason why we’re frustrated. We may be facing adversity - but recent performances just haven’t been up to scratch and Paul Ince should be taking responsibility for that as well as the players.
In terms of Ince’s future, we’ll be able to make a better assessment a couple of days after today’s clash. That will allow us to make a rational judgement on what should happen next.
Ideally, we’d have him in charge for the long term but he needs points on the board as quickly as possible. It would have helped him if our performances had been decent - but they quite clearly haven’t.
There’s also work to be done off the pitch during the break, so it’s not exactly a time to relax too much.
Opposition Player I’d Like: Jacob Greaves
The central defender is one of the Tigers’ most valuable assets - and would be useful for us today at left centre-back with Tom McIntyre and Naby Sarr injured at this stage.
It will be interesting to see where Greaves moves to next - because he seems destined to play in the Premier League at some point.
The fact he signed a new contract at the MKM Stadium earlier this year is a big boost for the Tigers though - either enabling them to either keep him for the long term or sell him on for a considerable amount.
The Last Meeting
Hull City 3-0 Reading
Starting XI: Bouzanis, Guinness-Walker, Mbengue, Hutchinson, Holmes, Yiadom, Fornah, Loum, Ince, Meite, Long
With Joe Lumley likely to be out, Dean Bouzanis gets another chance to shine between the sticks and will be hoping to play a key part in the result (for the right reasons, obviously).
In central defence, Sam Hutchinson drops back to form a back three, with Amadou Mbengue and Tom Holmes alongside him. It would be ideal to have Hutch in midfield - but I feel a bit more comfortable with a back five and we aren’t exactly blessed with options at the back.
The return to a back five gives Nesta Guinness-Walker the opportunity to start ahead of Baba Rahman, who hasn’t done enough to keep his spot. I did debate putting Andy Yiadom in the middle, Junior Hoilett at right wing-back and pushing Hutch up to midfield, so I wouldn’t be too upset if we see something like that. But he starts at right wing-back for me.
In midfield, Mamadou Loum needs to be on his game. If he isn’t, he needs to be hooked for Hoilett, with the Canadian at RWB, Yids in central defence and Hutch in midfield alongside Tyrese Fornah.
In the advanced midfield role, it has to be Tom Ince again. I do feel for him a little because of our lack of creativity - but he can’t beat everyone on his own. Sometimes he needs to offload the ball quicker - and he’ll know that.
Up top, Yakou Meite and Shane Long start with Andy Carroll failing to make a real impact in recent games and Lucas Joao not doing enough at Vicarage Road.
Can I see anything other than a loss today though? Probably not - but let’s hope the team provides us with an injection of optimism
Score Prediction: Hull City 1-0 Reading
Here are my predictions for this weekend:
Bristol City 1-2 Watford
Cardiff City 1-3 Sheffield United
Coventry City 2-1 Queens Park Rangers
Huddersfield Town 2-2 Swansea City
Luton Town 1-2 Rotherham United
Norwich City 2-3 Middlesbrough
Preston North End 0-0 Millwall
West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Stoke City
Wigan Athletic 1-1 Blackpool
Burnley 2-1 Blackburn Rovers