Reading return to action following a mini-break as they take on Swansea City, who will be keen to take something back to South Wales.
The Royals had initially gone 2-0 up in the reverse fixture earlier this season before the Swans turned it around to clinch a 3-2 victory, with Paul Ince’s side failing to perform well throughout the evening despite taking the lead.
They will be hoping for a more positive result this evening - but will need to tighten up their defence if they want to give themselves the best opportunity of winning three points. Conceding 12 goals in their last four competitive meetings with Russell Martin’s side though, that’s easier said than done with the hosts perhaps the underdogs to come out on top in today’s meeting.
Will the visitors’ attacking talent pay dividends for them in this game though? We’ll have to wait and see.
For now, here’s everything you need to know ahead of this evening.
What? Championship Matchday 24
Who? Swansea City
Where? Select Car Leasing Stadium
When? Tuesday 27th December
Opposition Manager? Russell Martin
The Birmingham game was disappointing because we gave ourselves a mountain to climb in the second half. For me, the first goal was unfortunate but the second and third were entirely preventable and that’s the most frustrating thing. We did well to get ourselves back in the game but we can’t defend how we did in the opening 45 and expect to come away with a point or three.
In fairness though, we did create chances and that’s promising, so we shouldn’t be too short of confidence coming into this clash. The likes of Naby Sarr and Tom McIntyre have had more of a chance to get themselves back up to speed too, so there shouldn’t be any excuses going into this tie.
How long we can keep first-teamers like Sarr and McIntyre fit may determine where we finish at the end of the season, so let’s hope we can minimise injuries.
Going forward, I don’t think they will ever have any problems under Martin because they have been superb in the final third at times.
However, their defence remains a concern with the Swans conceding thrice against Coventry City in their last game. They will have aspirations of getting themselves back to the Premier League at some point - but they need to be as solid as possible to give themselves the best chance of being in the promotion mix.
They will also need to try and retain some of their best assets, something they haven’t really done in recent years with Flynn Downes being sold in the summer. Michael Obafemi and Joel Piroe may still be there - but others have gone including Connor Roberts who looks set to take Burnley back to the top flight at the first time of asking.
The Last Meeting
Swansea City 3-2 Reading
Starting XI: Lumley, Guinness-Walker, McIntyre, Holmes, Yiadom, Hoilett, Mbengue, Fornah, Ince, Meite, Joao
Joe Lumley starts between the sticks again, although are a few changes in defence with Nesta Guinness-Walker coming in for Baba Rahman, Sarr making way for Junior Hoilett and Mamadou Loum coming out for Tom Holmes.
Amadou Mbengue starts in the middle of the park with Tyrese Fornah coming back into the starting lineup in place of Jeff Hendrick. Tom Ince has to start once more but Shane Long comes out as he’s replaced by Lucas Joao.
The 3-1-4-2 system is what I’ve gone for - but a 3-4-1-2 may be better with Fornah dropping deeper to help cover two attacking wing-backs.
With Guinness-Walker on the left, he may be more in sync with McIntyre than he would be with Sarr considering the former two have played well together before. And Hoilett has been exceptional this season, so he gets the opportunity to start once again.
The forward situation is a tricky one - but Joao’s goalscoring record has been impressive this season and although a couple of these goals have come from the penalty spot - he still has to be commended.
Score Prediction: Reading 2-1 Swansea City
Here’s my prediction for today’s other game:
Burnley 2-0 Birmingham