The phrase ‘a six pointer’ often gets tossed around when it is neither warranted nor true. However, on the eve of this bottom 3 duel, there would be no better way to sum up Reading vs. Aston Villa. Whether it’s a home victory or an away one, the victorious side could take one giant leap into grabbing a foothold in the ever-changing relegation scenario.
Paul Lambert’s men enter the game coming off the back of two defeats against Arsenal and Manchester City respectively. However, those defeats were not as demoralising and as damaging as first thought. For long periods in both of the games, Villa had much of the ball. The team dominated possession but ultimately lacked that cutting edge which has been missing for much of the season. Having said that though, the Villa Park faithful seem to accept that any points from the two fixtures would have been a bonus and many already had eyes on our upcoming fixtures instead of trying to topple Mancini’s men.
It is my opinion that four points out of our next two games ultimately wouldn’t be such a bad outcome, providing that we get a maximum haul against Reading. Beating Reading would allow us to extend the gap over them. Their next two games are Manchester United and Arsenal away; surely even the most hardened of Reading supporters wouldn’t expect to get anything from either of those? But then again this is football. Therefore this game at the Madjeski really is winner takes all, there can be no more slip-ups as far as Villa are concerned. Reading though have lost their last four games and haven’t managed to keep a clean sheet in their last 8 so at least there may be some joy for our forwards on Saturday afternoon.
Villa will be without the suspended Fabian Delph, who for me has been one of few shining lights this season. He is one of the few players who has put his all into every game and plays with pride and passion each time he takes to the field. Questions are still surrounding the fitness of Ron Vlaar, Darren Bent and Chris Herd, all of whom were not involved at all on Monday night. Vlaar has resumed training this week but whether or not he will be fit in time for 3pm on Saturday remains to be seen. I would love to see Bent back in the team as I feel we have been missing his finishing prowess this campaign. Whether he puts his all in for the team for the full 90 minutes or not, he is a goal scorer and when given the right ammunition, he will score more times than not.
Reading, on the other hand, confirm that Stuart Taylor will continue to deputise in goal as Adam Federici’s sprained ankle rules him out. Jimmy Kebe is a doubt while Pavel Pogrebnyak serves his second match of suspension after picking up a red card against Wigan. It will be good to see Stuart Taylor play for Reading as he made very few appearances during his tenure at Villa Park.
I really fancy villa to get the 3 points this weekend. I know Reading have done well at home this season, getting wins against the likes of Sunderland, West Brom and putting on credible displays against Man United and Chelsea. However, having seen their performance against Wigan a few weeks back, I really feel that our flair players will step up and we will win comfortably.
Score line – Reading 1-3 Aston Villa
First Scorer – Andreas Weimann