Following a remarkable victory on Good Friday, Reading will be looking to make it a perfect Easter period as they return to the Select Car Leasing Stadium to face today’s opponents Swansea City.
With no chance of promotion or relegation for the visitors, they will just be playing for pride and their place in Russell Martin’s squad next season, something that may work in the Royals’ favour this afternoon. However, the Swans have been in decent form recently, going unbeaten in their last six league matches and winning 14 points from 18 in the process.
This looks set to be a challenging game for the Royals then, though they will have no shortage of motivation going into this one with a win all but securing their Championship safety, having taken a big step towards survival at Bramall Lane.
Looking ahead to kick-off, here’s everything you need to know.
What? Championship Matchday 43
Who? Swansea City
Where? Select Car Leasing Stadium
When? Monday 18th April 2022
Opposition Manager? Russell Martin
What a victory! Conceding late on felt like an inevitability considering how this season has panned out, but to respond in that manner was very impressive and the players have to be commended for this show of character against a side as strong as Sheffield United.
To reinforce how impressive that result was, the Blades hadn’t lost at home under Paul Heckingbottom prior to that clash and although it could be argued they were missing the likes of Billy Sharp and Rhian Brewster, they still had the players on paper to get three points. Not only was the result impressive but also the performance - and we can only hope that gives them confidence going into the final four games of the campaign.
Looking at the longer term, it’s now becoming harder to judge who should stay and who should go. If Danny Drinkwater had played how he’s been playing these past few weeks for the entire season, he would have been worth pursuing on a permanent basis (although WCBAP).
There’s also a case to recruit Tom Ince because he has certainly been a valuable contributor to the cause since his arrival from Stoke City - but you almost feel we need a group of players who are on their way up rather than those on the way down in their careers. We will be limited in what we can do in the summer window so that has to be taken into consideration - but with planning in place - it could be a real success.
This season has been quite a frustrating one for the Swans - because it’s not as if they are in a better position now compared to where they were 12 months ago. However, under Martin, they have shown real flashes of brilliance and look set to have a more successful season next year with more time with their current boss under their belt.
It was never going to be easy adapting from Steve Cooper to Martin - but things have clicked into place at times and they will only get better with a full pre-season of football behind them. Keep an eye out for them during the 2022/23 campaign.
A couple of things may be key to their success though - and some of that is dependent on their board. Keeping Joel Piroe could be crucial after seeing him fill the void of Jamal Lowe and Andre Ayew very well, Jamie Paterson being on top form consistently will only help their cause, offloading those who are surplus to requirements will make room for new players to come in and Martin having the sufficient backing to go on and continue his rebuild is a minimum requirement.
I just fear their board will hold them back after cashing in on some of their prized assets in recent years with reasonably little investment in return.
One to Watch: Flynn Downes
Downes has endured a remarkable journey over the past 12 months.
Previously sent to train with Ipswich Town’s youth team by Paul Cook as he was deemed surplus to requirements at Portman Road, he joined Swansea in the same window and has been an integral part of Martin’s plans. Lining up alongside captain Matt Grimes, he has made the step back up to the Championship remarkably, making 32 league appearances and stepping in at centre-back when needed.
He has been ruled out of action for a couple of weeks - but could be fit in time to appear in Berkshire and that would be a considerable boost for the Swans. Recently linked with Leeds United, the second-tier side’s fans will be hoping to see him in action beyond the end of the season.
The Last Meeting
Swansea City 2-3 Reading
- Reading have scored in four of their five home matches under the stewardship of Paul Ince.
- The Royals haven’t beaten the Swans at home in over 13 years. That’s nine winless games at the Select Car Leasing Stadium for the former against today’s opponents.
- Swansea have had an average possession percentage of 63.9 this season, according to SofaScore.
- As per the same website, they have managed to successfully execute 85.6% of their passes this season.
My lineup: Nyland, Rahman, Holmes, Morrison, Yiadom, McIntyre, Drinkwater, Ejaria, Laurent, Ince, Joao
After a solid display on Friday, Orjan Nyland keeps his place and is certainly doing enough to earn himself a new contract at this stage. Hopefully he doesn’t have to be called into action much today but if he is, we can only hope he comes out on top.
At left-back, it was good to see Baba Rahman back and Tom Holmes was exceptional alongside him, with Michael Morrison and Andy Yiadom also playing their part in what was an impressive victory in South Yorkshire. They all start again.
Tom McIntyre also looked good in the middle of the park alongside Danny Drinkwater - and Josh Laurent starts just in front of the duo after supplying a wonderful through ball for Lucas Joao’s opener.
Ovie Ejaria’s role in the first goal can’t be understated either - and he retains his spot with Tom Ince remaining on the right-hand side. And up top, it has to be Joao as we look to get the very most out of him before the season comes to an end.
Score Prediction: Reading 2-2 Swansea City
Other Championship Fixtures
Middlesbrough vs Huddersfield Town (12:30pm KO)
Barnsley vs Peterborough United
Blackburn Rovers vs Stoke City
Blackpool vs Birmingham City
Cardiff City vs Luton Town
Coventry City vs AFC Bournemouth
Millwall vs Hull City
Queens Park Rangers vs Derby County
Bristol City vs Sheffield United (5:30pm KO)
Nottingham Forest vs West Bromwich Albion (8pm KO)
Fulham vs Preston North End (Tuesday 19th April; 7:45pm KO)