Bottom of the pile Reading take on Swansea City.
Those football fans who don’t want their team to be successful are hugely outnumbered, but I do wonder if a number of Reading fans may now be regretting their club’s superbly timed sprint to the finish line last season.
A run of 15 wins out of 17 clinched the Royals’ ascent to the big time which, coupled with a buy-out of the club led by Russian billionaire Anton Zingarevich, seemed to suggest Reading could emulate or even surpass the achievements of Steve Coppell’s team during their debut season at the highest level in 2006-07.
But so far, it hasn’t happened. Their solitary league victory against Everton has been followed by seven successive defeats which prompted winger Jimmy Kebe to break cover and claim he’s part of just ‘a good Championship team’ and publically question why the squad wasn’t strengthened with proven Premier League quality during the summer.
Manager Brian McDermott has given the bulk of his squad the opportunity to prove themselves in the Premier League but results suggest the business he’s able to do in January must be brisk to give them any hope of survival.
Goals are being scored – five against Manchester United and Arsenal in the last two home games is more than many will manage this season – but they’re also being shipped in greater numbers. Losing those games 4-3 and 5-2 might be entertaining for a global television audience but won’t help to lift the gloom currently descending on Berkshire.
Life is very different at the other end of the M4 – Swansea have dismissed any notion of ‘Second Season Syndrome’ by building on the progress Brendan Rodgers masterminded last year.
Michael Laudrup’s knowledge of La Liga beyond ‘El Clasico’ has unearthed gems such as Michu and with a Capital One Cup semi-final coming up against Chelsea in a couple of weeks a wonderful 2012 could be followed by something even better for that corner of South West Wales in 2013.
SOURCE: BBC Sport
Kick-off 15.00 GMT
TV: Highlights, BBC ONE Match of the Day.
Reading (Possible, 4-4-1-1): Federici; Gunter, Pearce, Mariappa, Shorey; Kebe, Karacan, Leigertwood, McAnuff; Tabb; Pogrebnyak.
Out: McCarthy (shoulder), Morrison (ankle), Roberts (hip).
Tests: Guthrie (thigh).
Swansea (Possible, 4-2-3-1): Vorm; Tiendalli, Chico, Williams, Davies; De Guzman, Ki; Dyer, Britton, Routledge; Michu.
Out: Situ (Achilles), Taylor (ankle).
Tests: Hernandez (thigh), Rangel (calf).
Referee: Mike Jones (Matches 11, R1 Y42).
Swansea are unbeaten in their last seven games against Reading (W4, D3), including victory against Royals in the 2011 Championship play-off final.
Reading’s last win against the Swans was a 4-0 victory at the Madejski Stadium in a Championship match on 27 September 2008.
The Royals have lost their last two home league games, conceding a total of nine goals against Manchester United and Arsenal.
The last seven league games at the Madejski Stadium have produced a total of 31 goals (13 for Reading, 18 against them).
They have won one of their last 11 Premier League home games (W1, D5, L5).
They have conceded 11 goals in the final 15 minutes of Premier League matches this season – more than an other side.
The Swans have only scored one first-half league goal away from home this season – Michu’s eighth-minute strike at QPR on the opening day.
Swansea have collected 10 away points this term – seven more than had at this stage last season.
They are unbeaten in their three previous league games against newly-promoted sides this season – defeating West Ham and drawing with both Reading and Southampton.
SOURCE: BBC Sport
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