“Huddersfield’s another opportunity for us to pick up three points. We’re at home and you aim to win all your home games.”– Reading Captain Paul McShane
Reading could close the gap to league leaders Huddersfield Town if they were to record a victory on Saturday at the Madejski. The Terriers currently sit on top of the Championship table after recording six wins from eight games. Reading, meanwhile, are currently eighth.
The league table would suggest that Huddersfield go into the game as favourites but Reading’s recent form sees them going into the fixture with newfound confidence. The Royals extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to seven games with a 2-1 away win against Brighton in the EFL Cup. Despite yet another red card- this time for Tyler Blackett- goals from Stephen Quinn and John Swift, together with strong will and a determined performance, were enough to hold on for the win.
Huddersfield will also be going into the game with high hopes having recorded a 2-1 home win against QPR. Kasey Palmer and Elias Kachunga came up with the goals for the Terriers, securing their places as the club’s current top goalscorers. Despite currently being the league leaders, Huddersfield’s unbeaten run is only one game after they suffered a 1-0 defeat against Brighton away from home.
While current form seems to be with the Royals, past games between the sides suggest that the odds may be in Huddersfield’s favour. Reading are without a win against Huddersfield in the past five league games, having drawn two and lost three. The last time that the Royals won against them in the league at home was back in August 2001. Huddersfield have also scored eleven goals in five league games against Reading, scoring two or more in each of the last four meetings. That being said, Reading’s 5-2 January 2016 FA Cup replay victory against them shows that it is possible.
In terms of the starting eleven, Reading will have to cope without two of their first-team players. The suspended Garath McCleary and Tyler Blackett will be absent after their respective red cards against Barnsley and Brighton. Callum Harriott and Jordan Obita are their likely replacements in the squad. Deniss Rakels and Yakou Meite remain sidelined with their long-term injuries. Huddersfield, meanwhile, go into Saturday’s game with no new injury concerns. Jack Payne and Harry Bunn are both among those pushing for recalls to the squad while Joe Lolley remains sidelined with a foot injury.
Away from home and playing against a team who are beginning to look confident with Jaap Stam’s style of possession football, Huddersfield fans will probably be happy with a draw. Like many teams who come to the Madejski, the away side will probably sit deep and look to score a goal on the counter through the likes of Nahki Wells. If Reading can convert their extended spells of pressure and possession into goals, then they should be able to remain in control of the game for the duration.