Reading will be looking to come out on top in this potentially crucial tie as they host relegation candidates Blackpool.
Following their victory against Stoke City last weekend, the Seasiders will have been looking to follow that up with a midweek win at local rivals Blackburn Rovers. They were unable to do that though - and will need to start getting more points on the board sooner rather than later to give themselves the best chance of securing survival.
The Royals, on the other hand, may only need a couple more wins to secure survival but it’s difficult to see where the next three points will come from if they continue to play like they have done recently. A more ambitious approach will be required this afternoon - but will that happen and can either side claim a victory? We’ll have to wait and see.
Ahead of kick-off, here are some facts and thoughts!
What? Championship Matchday 33
Where? Select Car Leasing Stadium
When? Saturday 25th February
Opposition Manager? Mick McCarthy
Recent performances haven’t been great at all, with the team failing to fulfil their potential in recent games. Although there were a few key players missing from the Cardiff game, we still had the ingredients to secure a point or three and were capable of getting forward.
Femi Azeez starting in the middle was a bit puzzling considering he was very effective out wide against Rotherham United - and you feel he would benefit more from operating in a wing role this afternoon. That doesn’t mean he should just be an option from the bench.
In terms of other attacking options, Tom Ince and Shane Long look set to be fully fit for this clash which is a real boost. Not having Andy Yiadom available again is a bit of a blow though.
The Seasiders did reasonably well during the January transfer window, with the return of Josh Bowler likely to be a real boost for them between now and the end of this term.
However, it remains to be seen whether Mick McCarthy can turn things around following an underwhelming start to his tenure at Bloomfield Road in terms of results.
They may have been expecting to lose to Blackburn in midweek - but they will see this game as a real opportunity considering how poorly the Royals have performed in recent games.
You could easily see the visitors securing the three points because they certainly have the players at their disposal to cause problems - but today’s result may depend less on how the Seasiders perform and more on whether the hosts show up.
The Last Meeting
Blackpool 1-0 Reading
Starting XI: Lumley, Guinness-Walker, Sarr, Holmes, Mbengue, Hoilett, Fornah, Hendrick, Azeez, Ince, Long
Joe Lumley starts between the sticks again but there’s one change to the back three if Tom Holmes is fit, with the academy graduate ideally needing to come in for Scott Dann.
I’m going with a 3-4-3 again, with Jeff Hendrick hopefully coming back in. Mamadou Loum didn’t perform too badly against Cardiff - but did he do enough to retain his place in the first 11? I’m not sure.
Azeez starts on the right - and Ince comes back in on the left. You have to credit the coaches for leaving the latter on the bench - because that would have been an extremely difficult decision to make.
Up top, Shane Long starts but the likes of Azeez and Ince need to be near the experienced forward when he receives the ball.
Score Prediction: Reading 2-1 Blackpool
Here are my predictions for this weekend:
Coventry City 1-1 Sunderland
Birmingham City 0-2 Luton Town
Bristol City 1-2 Hull City
Burnley 2-1 Huddersfield Town
Norwich City 3-1 Cardiff City
Preston North End 1-1 Wigan Athletic
Queens Park Rangers 0-2 Blackburn Rovers
Sheffield United 2-1 Watford
Stoke City 0-2 Millwall
West Bromwich Albion 1-3 Middlesbrough
Swansea City 2-2 Rotherham United