Reading v Aston Villa – Match Preview
Would it be fair to say that the outcome of this game would go a long way to determining the Premier League future of both sides? This is definitely one of the seasons cliched ‘six pointers’.
Reading have fallen back into the relegation mire after taking 10 points from a possible 12 across January and February and have lost their last three games in a row. That being said survival is by no means out of their reach and, having taken 18 of their 23 points at the Madjeski Stadium, must make home form count. The Royals were thumped by fellow strugglers Wigan on their own patch two weeks ago but with the Latics in FA Cup action this weekend Brian McDermott knows the chance move out of the relegation zone has never been greater.
The same can be said for Aston Villa who sit a point and a place above their hosts. Inexperience has burned Paul Lambert’s young side on more than one occasion this term but can take heart from a bright performance in the narrow loss to Manchester City on Monday. Its notable that, while City’s goal came from a defensive error, Villa have tightened up at the back since that horrendous run at the back end of 2012 when they conceded 15 goals in three games. That could play a huge part against Reading who’ve seen the goals dry up in recent weeks. In the same degree Lambert has Christian Benteke leading his attack and will expect the exciting Belgian to lead them to victory in Berkshire.
Adam Federici (sprained ankle) is out so Stuart Taylor will continue to deputise in goal for Reading. Jimmy Kebe is a doubt and Pavel Pogrebnyak sits out the second of a three match suspension.
Aston Villa are hoping to have captain Ron Vlaar back after he missed the previous two games with a calf problem. Fabian Delph starts a two-game ban and Karim El Ahmadi is struggling with an ankle knock.
“There are loads of teams who will be edgy. It will take courage tomorrow. We will need it all over the pitch. To go and play football and not get caught up with the occasion. We certainly don’t look like a team that is playing under pressure. We were well in the game against Manchester City – we never allowed them to play their normal fluid game. I would like to think that everyone has fight in them to win a game – it’s okay to be aggressive. But we need to play the game and not the occasion.” Paul Lambert is convinced his side have the right attitude to avoid relegation (Daily Mail)
Pre-Match Statistic: Expect late drama at the Madjeski Stadium as four of the last five matches between the two sides has featured a 90th minute goal.
Prediction: Reading 1-2 Aston Villa