This season Reading FC have taken 20 of their 45 points in the Championship from sides in the top eight. If their record was as positive against sides in the bottom half of the table, then they would be laughing. This has not been the case, however, with the Royals consistently struggling to take advantage of weaker opponents. With only seven matches left to play in the league, Reading will be hoping to take all three points against their next opposition.
On Tuesday night, the Royals take on Blackpool who have just been relegated from the Championship. It is difficult to decide whether this is great or deeply concerning news for Reading. Sitting rock bottom with nothing left to fight for other than their pride this season, Reading on paper should cruise to victory come Tuesday evening. When considering their performances against weaker opposition so far this season, however, it is difficult to be 100% confident of a positive result.
This being said, when the sides met earlier this season at the Madejski Reading put three past the Tangerines, winning with ease. Fans will be expecting a similar result this time round, especially considering the current form of the home side. Blackpool have failed to win in twelve matches, losing eight of them. Specifically at home, they have lost four of their last six home matches and drew the other two. Reading have failed to win in their last five away games, and won only one of their last seven, but they will be hoping that this is the game to put an end to that run.
With big games coming up over the next week against teams of a stronger ilk, Steve Clarke has the difficult decision of choosing his starting lineup this time out. With a big chance of practically securing safety against Blackpool it would be wise for Clarke to not risk saving his stronger players, despite an FA Cup Semi-Final on the horizon. With this in mind, Danny Williams will be expected to return to the starting lineup following his one match ban. Nathan Ake will probably be lining up alongside him in central midfield, with Nathaniel Chalobah continuing his spell on the sidelines. Simon Cox, Jure Travner and Anton Ferdinand are also out with injury. Having made his first Reading appearance as a substitute last time out, Kwesi Appiah may also be given his full debut with his sights firmly set on finding the net this time round. Blackpool, meanwhile, will have to cope with the absence of Tom Aldred, Henry Cameron and Mark Waddington, who are all out through injury.
With a goal difference of -48 and their fate sealed with six matches still to play, it is safe to say that Blackpool have had a highly problematic and disappointing season. While Reading’s season has too been disappointing, this is their best opportunity to take all three points and hush any talk of relegation for themselves. As Reading defender Alex Pearce has said, it will be a difficult game despite many thinking the Royals will simply “roll them over”. If they control the game in the manner they did last game, but are more clinical up front, it is difficult to see anything but a Reading victory from this one.