Reading return to the Select Car Leasing Stadium this weekend as they take on Cardiff City, who will be looking to build on their opening day victory.
The Royals, on the other hand, will be seeking redemption after returning from Blackpool with no points under their belt, not exactly the best start to what could be a tough season. However, today is a new day and with the home advantage, they will be hoping to get at least one point from today’s clash despite losing the same fixture last term.
One man that won’t be hoping for a home victory today is Andy Rinomhota, who started in the Bluebirds’ victory against Norwich City last week and will be looking to secure another three points for Steve Morison’s men.
But will it be a happy return for him? That remains to be seen.
For now, here’s everything you need to know ahead of this afternoon’s clash.
What? Championship Matchday 2
Who? Cardiff City
Where? Select Car Leasing Stadium
When? Saturday 6th August 2022
Opposition Manager? Steve Morison
It wasn’t exactly the best start to the season, though there were positives to take from the game as well as negatives.
One positive was Andy Yiadom, who was superb at right centre-back and showed he could operate in that position effectively if needed. It would be understandable if his performance levels dropped slightly after taking on the role of captain - but he was probably one of the best players on the pitch at Bloomfield Road and will be looking to put in a similar performance back in Berkshire.
The injury problems are a big worry though - because we hadn’t even played a single league game during 2022/23 and players were already out of action. Avoiding further setbacks will be key to a fast start (wrote this on Tuesday, one or two more are out, lol), though the players we already have out are vital to the cause. With Lucas Joao out, Femi Azeez could have been an option to have alongside Yakou Meite but with the academy graduate injured too, there was little choice but to play Meite on his own with Shane Long not 100% fit.
The back five system is definitely worth retaining though - because a shake-up was needed after last season and with the club unable to completely rebuild the defence - a formation change could potentially pay dividends. And with another left-back yet to arrive, Nesta Guinness-Walker could potentially benefit from having a bit of extra protection behind him. In fairness, he experienced a real baptism of fire going up against Josh Bowler, so he will be hoping to have an easier afternoon today.
The Bluebirds are another side that have made big changes to their squad this summer, with many of their previous high earners departing and several players arriving, including Rinomhota.
They endured a pretty poor summer window last time around so the fact they have managed to move quickly to secure some of their top targets must be particularly satisfying for their supporters, who will be excited about their future under Morison.
You can’t help but admire the way they have gone about their business this summer, especially within a very limited budget with many of their former first-teamers leaving for free in recent months. They may have sold Kieffer Moore in January - but they aren’t exactly loaded with funds to spend. They have also conducted their incoming business in a logical manner, building from the back before focusing on their forward area.
Losing the likes of Tommy Doyle, Cody Drameh, Jordan Hugill and Uche Ikpeazu will have been a blow - but with many players now in the door - they can look forward to what could be an exciting campaign in the Welsh capital. Fair play to them for managing to recruit so many additions - and they still have loan spots they can fill before the end of the window too.
Opposition Player I’d Like: Rubin Colwill
He may not be the finished package yet - but the Welshman is certainly an exciting player as someone who has shown he can already take the step up to the second tier.
The attacking midfielder is just one of several youngsters who could make a real impact under Steve Morison this term - and could have been a useful option for the Royals (especially as a player that could potentially be sold on for a considerable amount in the future!).
Scoring six goals in 36 competitive appearances last term, that record will only improve as he continues to develop and this has given the Bluebirds another reason to be excited.
Could Mamadi Camara make a similar contribution for us this season? Let’s hope so - because he certainly has real potential and may provide a bit of excitement in the final third.
It’s much-needed judging by last weekend’s performance at Bloomfield Road.
The Last Meeting
Reading 1-2 Cardiff City
Starting XI: Lumley; Guinness-Walker, McIntyre, Holmes, Yiadom, Hoilett; Fornah, Hendrick; Ejaria, Ince; Meite
There are one or two unnamed players that will miss out, so not all of these players are likely to be available today!
Joe Lumley starts in goal after putting in a decent performance last weekend. Fair play to him for putting in a decent performance - because he must have been feeling the heat following a poor campaign at Middlesbrough last season.
The same back five also start with Naby Sarr yet to come in and Sam Hutchinson remaining out of action. Junior Hoilett did reasonably well at Bloomfield Road and deserves to retain his spot with new signing Guinness-Walker hoping for a quieter afternoon.
In the middle, Tyrese Fornah will be hoping to enjoy a more influential display in the middle of the park following a mixed league debut with Jeff Hendrick also enduring some low points last Saturday. We all know what the latter can do on his day, so let’s hope he brings his A-game.
The advanced midfield two pressed well at times against Blackpool, with Ovie Ejaria’s aggression a high point and Tom Ince driving forward well when he had the ball. Ejaria does need to do more in the final third though - because we didn’t have enough going forward against Michael Appleton’s side.
And up front, Yakou Meite would probably benefit from having a forward partner but they have a very limited number of options up top at this stage with Shane Long and George Puscas not fully fit and Lucas Joao and Femi Azeez out of action.
In terms of the score prediction, I’m probably being optimistic but if we don’t have hope, what else do we have?!
Score Prediction: Reading 1-1 Cardiff City
My predictions for this round of Championship fixtures:
Norwich City 2-1 Wigan Athletic
Bristol City 1-1 Sunderland
Burnley 2-0 Luton Town
Preston North End 2-1 Hull City
Queens Park Rangers 0-2 Middlesbrough
Sheffield United 1-2 Millwall
Stoke City 1-0 Blackpool
Swansea City 2-2 Blackburn Rovers
Coventry City 3-1 Rotherham United
West Brom 1-0 Watford