Reading will be hoping to bounce back following back-to-back defeats and Middlesbrough and Sheffield United, with Paul Ince’s side hosting Millwall this afternoon.
However, today’s visitors have been impressive this term, forcing their way into the promotion mix and managing to compete at the top end of the division despite the summer departure of Jed Wallace. Gary Rowett has been at the club since 2019 and that stability seems to have paid dividends, with the Lions hoping they can finally seal a top-six finish at the end of the campaign after falling just short in recent seasons.
Can they capitalise on the Royals’ recent defeats and pile even more misery on them this afternoon? That remains to be seen.
Here are some of the things you need to know ahead of kick-off.
What? Championship Matchday 36
Where? Select Car Leasing Stadium
When? Saturday 11th March
Opposition Manager? Gary Rowett
The points deduction hasn’t come just yet - but certainty is needed so we can know where we’re at. Let’s hope the club has been able to make the punishment less severe or got rid of it altogether. I doubt that’s happened - but we can hope.
If a deduction wasn’t a possibility, it would have made recent losses a bit easier to swallow. But we are where we are. We need to get something out of today to give us a bit of momentum - because we face the prospect of winning 0 points from 12 if we don’t. A trip to Blackburn Rovers next weekend won’t be an easy one, especially with Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side probably wanting revenge for the reverse fixture!
You’ve got to be impressed by the Lions this season, with everyone playing their part to make sure they are successful.
Rowett has done a decent job since his switch to The Den, the players have stepped up to the plate and contributed well in the absence of Wallace and the board have to be commended for opening up their chequebook and backing the manager, paying fees for the likes of Zian Flemming and George Honeyman.
Flemming has been a real asset for the club since his move last summer and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s sold on for quite a bit in the future. Helping to fill the void that Wallace’s departure created, the Lions will be keen to keep hold of him but may also be tempted to sell him if they receive an attractive bid, so that’s a dilemma that will need to be addressed in the summer.
Promotion to the Premier League would probably give them more power in their potential quest to keep him though.
The Last Meeting
Millwall 0-1 Reading
Starting XI: Lumley, Guinness-Walker, Sarr, Holmes, Mbengue, Yiadom, McIntyre, Ince, Casadei, Carroll, Long
Joe Lumley starts between the sticks again - but there’s one change in defence with Amadou Mbengue coming in for Scott Dann. The decision to drop Mbengue was a mistake in my opinion, even though he was at fault for Middlesbrough’s second goal last weekend.
I’m not sure I can trust Dann too much, so having a quicker option like the 21-year-old could be useful for us, with his presence on the right allowing Holmes to return to the middle. Nesta Guinness-Walker, Naby Sarr and Andy Yiadom start alongside Mbengue and Holmes.
When I’ve gone with a 5-3-2, I’ve often had two sitting and one advanced player but Tom McIntyre could be decent on his own in a deep role with Tom Ince and Cesare Casadei starting in front of the former Scotland youth international.
Going with the 3-4-2-1 would have been tempting to allow Femi Azeez to come in but considering we played with two up top against the Blades, it would make sense to go with something similar.
I think we could benefit from having Andy Carroll up top in this game, with Shane Long alongside him. If one of them came out for Azeez to make it a 3-4-2-1 though (with Casadei alongside McIntyre), I wouldn’t be too mad.
Score Prediction: Reading 2-2 Millwall
Here are my Championship predictions for this weekend:
Bristol City 2-1 Blackpool
Birmingham City 1-2 Rotherham United
Burnley 3-0 Wigan Athletic
Coventry City 2-1 Hull City
Preston North End 2-2 Cardiff City
Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Watford
Sheffield United 2-1 Luton Town
Swansea City 0-3 Middlesbrough
West Brom 2-0 Huddersfield Town
Norwich City 3-1 Sunderland