“Every game that we play we try to win, if we play a side like Villa on the Tuesday it’s not going to be easy. They’ve spent a lot of money and invested a lot of money in players and trying to build a team that has a chance of promotion to the Premier League. It won’t be easy for them either. They’ve got a new manager and they’ll want a result. They want to make it difficult for us, but we want to win our home games and play our style of football even against a good team like Villa.”– Reading FC Manager Jaap Stam
“We have to be confident in what we do and keep going to make sure we are successful in games. When we play well we have to make sure we reward ourselves with three points. We want to keep going and we’re ready for it.”– Reading Player Joey van den Berg
Reading will be looking to extend their unbeaten run at the Madejski Stadium to nine games in all competitions when they take on Aston Villa on Tuesday evening.
The Royals returned from the international break with a 1-1 draw against QPR at the weekend, securing eighth place in the Championship table in the process. Pawel Wszolek gave the Hoops the lead early in the first half but Danny Williams was on hand to level the score only a few minutes later.
Despite being relegated from the Premier League at the end of last season, Aston Villa have had a poor start to life in the Championship. One manager down and currently sitting twentieth in the table, things are not looking good. A positive for new manager Steve Bruce is that he managed to pick up a point in his first game against Wolves. Jonathan Kodjia gave them the lead after a quarter of an hour from the penalty spot. The equaliser also came as a result of a penalty, however, with Helder Costa converting.
If it was not bad enough for Villa already this season, they will also be without two important players in their defence. Captain Tommy Elphick and Micah Richards both picked up calf injuries against Wolves and subsequently they have no chance of featuring on Tuesday evening according to Bruce. Jack Grealish may also be absent from the game if the FA hand him a three game suspension for a stamp on a Wolves player. With results not going their way and confidence low, injuries and potential suspensions were the last thing they needed.
Reading, meanwhile, will be on a real high following their recent run in the Championship. The team is beginning to show a mental strength that has been absent in recent years and have an identity and style that many have picked up on in the media. They will, however, be without captain Paul McShane once more as he remains out with a hamstring injury. He is joined on the sidelines by Jake Cooper and Yakou Meite.
Villa have not won away from home for over a year but it is bound to happen sooner or later. The past fixtures between the teams suggest that perhaps it could be against Reading. Nineteen games have been played between Reading and Villa, with the Royals winning only two, drawing two and Villa winning the other fifteen. The last time the two sides met was in the 2012/13 season in the Premier League with Villa winning 1-0 at home and 2-1 away.
Even when bearing that in mind, the odds have to be in Reading’s favour. The team’s form at the Madejski has been impressive so far and the confidence in the Villa squad at the moment will surely make the home team the favourites. Once again the away side will probably sit deep and look to counter with the pace they have in their side. The issue will be whether the Royals can break through and whether Reading’s strikers can start contributing goals.
Playing against Villa this early in Bruce’s tenure, however, will be a positive for the Royals as the new manager himself has admitted that there is much work to be done. With over four thousand Villa fans coming down for the game, however, they could cause an upset.