Reading will be looking to secure their survival this weekend as they travel to East Yorkshire to face Hull City, who are already safe from the drop.
The final three matches of this season are a free hit for Hull boss Shota Arveladze as he gears up for what could be a potentially busy summer as new owner Acun Ilicali prepares to back the Georgian, though they will be focused on the short term at this stage as they look to build momentum going into next term. The visitors, meanwhile, would have been hoping this game was a dead rubber but they still have work to do in their quest to remain afloat in the Championship.
They enjoyed a successful Easter though, taking four points from six as they struck late against Sheffield United and Swansea City, so they may be able to relax ever so slightly coming into this clash at the MKM Stadium. Will that help them in their quest to win three points though? That remains to be seen.
For now, here’s everything you need to know ahead of this afternoon’s second-tier meeting.
What? Championship Matchday 44
Who? Hull City
Where? MKM Stadium
When? Saturday 23rd April 2022
Opposition Manager? Shota Arveladze
Things are now looking much brighter off the field for the Tigers compared to the reverse fixture with Ilicali now at the helm. The decision to sack Grant McCann and install Arveladze as his replacement can be questioned - but the Turkish businessman’s ambitions certainly can’t. He already showed his willingness to invest in the team during the latter stages of the winter window and you would certainly back him to make considerable changes in the summer as well.
That could spell trouble for those who are out of contract, though you would definitely offer the likes of George Honeyman and Richie Smallwood fresh terms after seeing them shine this season. Ilicali may want to take this team to the next level and with that, you have to respect his ambition. However, stability is also important and this is why at least a decent chunk of the squad from this season should be retained to give them a real chance of success. Utilising players from the academy may also pay dividends for them in the coming years.
Again, the boys showed real character on Monday to come back from 4-1 and for that, they have to be commended. Hopefully, safety can be secured this weekend and if it is, our attention can be turned towards the summer. We can only hope those behind the scenes already have plans and contingency plans in place to get a head start on others - because this planning will be key to our success in the upcoming window.
Looking forward to then, there will be a need to fully promote youngsters like Cardiff have this season and there are already a few I have in mind. Jahmari Clarke could be our Isaak Davies, Mamadi Camara could be our Rubin Colwill and Dejan Tetek could also be a much-needed figure in the middle of the park for depth. Getting all three tied down to new deals will be important and though it could be argued that all three have already made the step up, they may play a more important part next term.
One to Watch: Keane Lewis-Potter
The 21-year-old is a perfect example of why the Tigers should be looking to make full use of their academy despite their takeover.
Not only has he been a regular contributor going forward this term with nine goals and four assists in 42 league appearances, but he has also been extremely versatile and those two factors have made him such a valuable asset to his current side.
His contract at the MKM Stadium runs out in 2023 though and with Lewis-Potter yet to put pen to paper on fresh terms, it will be interesting to see what happens with his future.
He certainly isn’t short of interest with Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United both thought to be monitoring his current situation.
The Last Meeting
Reading 1-1 Hull City
- Hull have kept six clean sheets in their last seven league wins.
- They have won just five of their 16 league matches under the stewardship of their current manager. Not an awful total but not exactly a hugely impressive one either.
- Reading have gone unbeaten in all but one of their last seven league matches. Not a bad record at all.
- However, the Royals have also gone winless in all but one of their last 13 league fixtures against today’s opponents.
My lineup: Nyland, Rahman, Holmes, Morrison, Yiadom, McIntyre, Drinkwater, Laurent, Hoilett, Ince, Joao
Only one change is made from the 4-4 draw and that comes at centre-back with Tom Holmes replacing Tom Dele-Bashiru. That should allow another Tom in Tom McIntyre to slot in alongside Danny Drinkwater again.
McIntyre’s deployment in the middle of the park also allows Baba Rahman to start at left-back again, potentially giving the Royals more going forward. And despite conceding a penalty on Monday, Junior Hoilett keeps his place over Ovie Ejaria.
Hopefully this is the last match of the season where we will be forced to put out our first 11 - because safety could (writing this before the Barnsley match) be secured by the end of the day.
This should allow the likes of Camara, Clarke and other youngsters to be involved. It would also be good to see Kelvin Abrefa more if he’s fit - because he looks like a promising player.
In terms of the scoreline, I can see another draw on the horizon but let’s keep our fingers crossed for all three points!
Score Prediction: Hull City 1-1 Reading
Other Championship Fixtures
All games get underway this afternoon at 3pm unless stated:
Luton Town vs Blackpool (12:30pm KO)
Birmingham City vs Millwall
AFC Bournemouth vs Fulham
Derby County vs Bristol City
Peterborough United vs Nottingham Forest
Sheffield United vs Cardiff City
Stoke City vs Queens Park Rangers
Swansea City vs Middlesbrough
West Bromwich Albion vs Coventry City
Preston North End vs Blackburn Rovers (Monday 25th April; 7:30pm KO)