Reading will be looking to respond well this weekend following a humiliating midweek defeat against Sunderland, as they travel to Wigan Athletic.
The Latics may have only won promotion from League One this year - but they won’t be an easy side to face and will be full of confidence after their victory against Huddersfield Town on Tuesday evening.
In fairness, today’s teams aren’t exactly expected to be pushing at the right end of the division and this should mean the pressure is off both coming into this clash at the DW Stadium.
However, the Royals need to end this set of games on a high note after performing so poorly on Wednesday. Will this spur them on to victory in this tie though? Let’s hope so!
For now, here are some facts and thoughts ahead of kick-off.
What? Championship Matchday 10
Who? Wigan Athletic
Where? DW Stadium
When? Saturday 17th September
Opposition Manager? Leam Richardson
Considering Sunderland are already expected to finish well clear of the drop zone, that’s one less potential relegation rival Wigan can tussle with and this is why they need to rely on themselves to scramble to safety.
At this stage though, they look set to record a respectable finish under Leam Richardson and there’s no one who deserves that more than the manager himself, who helped to save Charlie Wyke’s life last year.
Focusing more on Wigan in general though, it’s great to see them back in the second tier after seeing them compete in the Premier League earlier this century. They looked the part at the top level once upon a time - and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them establish themselves as a solid second-tier outfit considering the players they have at their disposal.
They didn’t exactly make a statement of intent in the transfer market this summer - but Ryan Nyambe is a superb signing and you’d back Nathan Broadhead to get in and amongst the goals regularly after seeing him shine at Sunderland last term.
Since I wrote my last preview, both Amadou Mbengue and Andy Carroll have signed on the dotted line, giving us more depth in a few positions. These are two positive signings, though you feel we’d benefit from having another attacking midfielder at our disposal.
Whether we can bring one in remains to be seen though, with Naby Sarr, Baba Rahman, Mbengue and Carroll all signing on with the Royals following George Puscas’ departure. Another position we may also need to address in the coming months is central defence and it’s a shame we have the likes of Scott Dann and Liam Moore out injured at this stage.
If we could somehow shift both on, that could give us the necessary space and financial power to sign an advanced midfielder and two new centre-backs, additions that would further boost our chances of remaining afloat in the division once more. I can’t see either Dann or Moore leaving anytime soon though.
Opposition Player I’d Like: Will Keane
It previously looked as though Keane would endure an underwhelming career and his inability to secure a permanent move away from Manchester United sooner probably contributed to that.
Under Richardson though, he has proved his worth and has already recorded three goals in eight league appearances this term.
Able to operate as an advanced midfielder, he could be perfect for a 3-4-1-2 system behind the likes of Lucas Joao and Shane Long as another goalscoring asset for the Royals.
Following John Swift’s departure, we need as many goals as we can get and Keane has not only been clinical in front of goal, but has also chipped in with several assists during his time with his current side and this is another way he could fill the void Swift’s departure has created.
The Last Meeting
Reading 0-3 Wigan Athletic
Starting XI: Lumley, Rahman, McIntyre, Hutchinson, Holmes, Yiadom, Loum, Fornah, Ince, Joao, Meite
Joe Lumley couldn’t exactly do anything for any of the goals so he starts once more - and will be hoping to make a positive contribution to the Royals’ cause this afternoon.
In defence, Baba Rahman gets his first start at left wing-back with Junior Hoilett being given a rest, but Andy Yiadom simply has to continue on the right as a leader and someone we can usually depend on.
Tom McIntyre and Tom Holmes are lucky to keep their places - but we don’t exactly have too much of a choice unless Yiadom goes into central defence and Hoilett starts at right wing-back. Sam Hutchinson should definitely remain in the middle though and will be hoping to keep things solid at the back following midweek’s humiliation.
There’s one change in midfield with Tom Ince pushing back into an advanced midfield role, pushing Jeff Hendrick out of the first 11 and enabling Tyrese Fornah and Mamadou Loum to link up in the middle of the park. The latter will have to raise his game if he wants to stay in the starting lineup though - because he wasn’t great on Wednesday.
With Ince being pushed back, Yakou Meite comes in to pair up with Lucas Joao if the Ivorian is fully fit. Joao wasn’t great against the Black Cats - but we could barely string enough passes together to get it to him so he can’t really be blamed too much.
In terms of a score prediction, I’m a little less confident now than when I put a 2-1 victory in the TTE group chat but I suppose I can’t change it now? Optimism is rare for me, but let’s go with it! Reading, redeem yourselves.
Score Prediction: Wigan Athletic 1-2 Reading
Here are my predictions for this weekend’s Championship games:
Swansea City 1-1 Hull City
Birmingham City 1-1 Coventry City
Burnley 2-1 Bristol City
Huddersfield Town 2-1 Cardiff City
Luton Town 2-1 Blackburn Rovers
Millwall 1-0 Blackpool
Norwich 2-0 West Brom
Preston North End 1-2 Sheffield United
QPR 1-1 Stoke City
Watford 1-2 Sunderland
Middlesbrough 2-0 Rotherham United