After a weekend of no football for Reading, they return to action this evening as they take on Bristol City at Ashton Gate, looking for a much-needed point or three.
Both sides aren’t exactly in the best form right now - but the visitors are in the most trouble having won just one point from 18 in their last six league matches and are hovering dangerously above the drop zone at this stage. With that, they are the side who most need a victory tonight but will come into this tie as the underdogs with no home advantage to utilise and the Robins’ superior league position.
Whether tonight’s hosts can make the most of these factors remains to be seen - but we have all the info you need to know ahead of this clash.
What? Championship Matchday 29
Who? Bristol City
Where? Ashton Gate
When? Wednesday 9th February 2022
Opposition Manager? Nigel Pearson
Without insulting the Robins, there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of excitement surrounding the club at this stage, although results could potentially play a big part in changing that.
In fairness, they do have some promising youngsters who look set to go on and become Premier League players in the future, including Alex Scott and Ayman Benarous who are both performing excellently and will be ones to look out for tonight. You wouldn’t exactly say Antoine Semenyo (22) is a youngster anymore - but he also has plenty of potential and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him take the step up to the top tier at some point in the future either.
Looking to one of their more experienced players, Andreas Weimann deserves a mention. Scoring 14 goals in 30 league games is impressive enough - but to do it after returning from an ACL injury is a special achievement and this is why he remains one of the first names on the teamsheet under Pearson.
It feels as though we’re still missing a few players that we desperately need - and perhaps the transfer window hasn’t helped matters.
I appreciate the restrictions we’re currently operating under and that’s something that needs to be considered - but it’s clear we need a centre-back to replace Liam Moore considering the injury problems the club has had not just this season, but for quite a few years now.
A full-back (who can play on both sides) was also a necessity - because January showed how badly we were affected by not having the likes of Baba Rahman and Andy Yiadom at our disposal. Our fortunes haven’t exactly improved since - but having them back is still quite a boost.
And finally, bringing in a striker is a must, even with Yakou Meite on the way back from his injury. It will take Meite a little while to get going again after spending so long out of action and it’s not as if we can rely on Lucas Joao to remain fit for the remainder of the season.
It remains to be seen whether we can bring all three in - but let’s just cross our fingers.
One to Watch: Andreas Weimann
One of the best signings tonight’s opponents made back in the summer was tying this man down to a new deal.
To be fair to them, it was a bit of a risk offering him a new three-year contract considering the severity of his injury, but the attacker has certainly repaid that faith and will be hoping to take his goal tally for the season up to 20 sooner rather than later.
Not only can he play up top, but also out wide and as an advanced midfielder, providing Pearson with the option to switch things up. His versatility can be utilised as Bristol City’s unpredictability, making him an even more valuable weapon and it’s his impact that could be the difference for the hosts this evening.
The Last Meeting
Reading 2-3 Bristol City
- Bristol City have gone unbeaten in 10 of their 15 league games at Ashton Gate this season. Not a shabby record.
- Prior to midweek’s round of Championship matches, they also had the third-worst defensive record in the second tier. Only coming behind Peterborough United and you guessed it, Reading.
- Reading have kept a clean sheet in just one of their last 11 meetings with City.
- The Royals conceded 23 goals in seven competitive matches last month. Surely it can’t get any worse - can it?!
My lineup: Southwood, Rahman, Morrison, Holmes, Yiadom, Rinomhota, Laurent, Hoilett, Swift, Ince, Joao
After helping to keep the score down against QPR, Luke Southwood gets another chance in goal and could be crucial in helping the Royals pick up a point (or points!) in this match. A top performance will be needed though.
Across the flat back four (given up on the 3-4-1-2/3-4-2-1 for now), Rahman and Yiadom are the starters at full-back. It will be interesting to see how the latter links up with new signing Tom Ince if he starts on the right wing - and who knows - maybe Ince is the signing we’ve needed to help us kick on. Maybe not defensively (though he can play at full-back) - but definitely going forward.
The old partnership of Andy Rinomhota and Josh Laurent is formed once again in the heart of midfield - and we can only hope they can both show their early-2020/21 form as they look to turn their side’s fortunes around. Rinomhota has shown promise since he’s been back - and that can only help Laurent who has struggled for large stages of this term so far.
Three more advanced midfielders start ahead of the duo, with John Swift in an advanced midfield role, Junior Hoilett on the left and January arrival Ince on the right. We need some genuine threat out wide, so to have two orthodox wingers available is a big boost and perhaps that could pay dividends. Ovie Ejaria also deserves another chance to shine from the bench though - because he looked reasonably decent at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium when he came on at half-time.
And with a limited number of options up top, Lucas Joao starts as the front man. He will need to adapt to playing as a lone ranger once again after forming a partnership with George Puscas recently.
Score Prediction: Bristol City 1-1 Reading
Other Championship Fixtures
All ties tonight kick-off at 7:45pm:
AFC Bournemouth vs Birmingham City
Blackburn Rovers vs Nottingham Forest
Cardiff City vs Peterborough United
Preston North End vs Huddersfield Town
Queens Park Rangers vs Middlesbrough
Sheffield United vs West Bromwich Albion