Everton v Reading – Match Preview
Considering the consistency of Everton’s form this season it’s hardly surprising that recent back-t0-back defeats have raised a few eyebrows. With the top four and Champions League qualification in their sights, one point from the last possible nine has left them playing catchup on the teams above. Fortunately for the Toffees four of their next five league games, starting with Reading, are at Goodison Park where they’ve lost just once all season. However they must start turning draws into wins if they are to return to European football’s top table. David Moyes will no doubt be drilling home the importance of victory to his side and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be confident of beating their struggling opponents.
The Royals have seen their survival efforts become unstick in the recent weeks with defeats to Wigan and Stoke in their last two games seeing them drop to second from bottom and a point from safety. Despite having beaten Everton in the seasons reverse fixture it’s unlikely Brian McDermott is expecting a repeat result and its probable that he will instruct his players to avoid defeat at all costs. If they are to preserve their top-flight status and avoid an immediate return to the Championship they need to start stringing together a run of positive results and a draw on Merseyside would be the perfect way to kick-start their bid to beat the drop.
Marouane Fellaini (knee) could return for Everton but Tim Howard could be a surprise absentee after picking up a knock in the FA Cup win against Oldham on Tuesday.
Brian McDermott will have to choose between strikers Nick Blackman and Adam Le Fondre to fill in for Pavel Pogrebnyak, who starts a three-match ban after his red card last week.
What the managers said…
“Like all the Premier League teams, everybody poses a threat. As I’ve said many times, games in the Premier League are close encounters – that’s the way it has been. We hope that we can get three points and try and keep our good league form going, which we have had this season. They have been able to get people behind the ball but they have scored a lot of goals this year as well. They have got a lot of goals from set-pieces and we will have to be mindful of it.” David Moyes is expecting a stiff test against Reading on Saturday
“Everyone came in on Monday and was ready to crack on. The first 43 minutes of that game (against Wigan), we could have been one up and it could have gone either way. You can look at the camaraderie – Wigan were at their best and are a decent side when the opposition are down to 10 men, but our boys hung in there and the camaraderie is first class, so we have got to move on from that and look ahead to our next game. They are all raring to go. Everyone is raring to go and looking forward to going there.” Brian McDermott is Reading will get back to winning ways this weekend (ITV News)
Pre-Match Statistic: Readings recent record against Everton his strong with three wins in their last four against the Toffees, including their last two meetings.
Prediction: Everton 2-0 Reading