They both may be struggling for form and confidence but three points will rarely taste more sweeter for both Reading and Chelsea as they battle it out at the Madejski Stadium. Two managers with a point to prove; yet this could be more than a one-sided contest.
A run of eight Premier League games without a win made Reading prime relegation candidates and with equally-struggling rivals, QPR, picking up the odd point, Brian McDermott is under serious pressure. Something that would briefly take the pain away is three points at home here but even getting one would be some achievement.
Currently on a four-game unbeaten run in all competitions, the best they have had this season, The Royals may have a spring in their step. Going strong in the F.A Cup after a 4-0 win over Sheffield United and with top-scorer Adam Le Fondre on brilliant form, the Chelsea game couldn’t have come at a better time.
Unfortunately, the Blues won’t be sharing their mentality.
After a shock 1-0 home defeat to QPR, something that will give Reading hope, Rafa Benitez has rallied his side to impressive wins over Southampton, Stoke and Arsenal. However, a home draw with the Saints only demonstrated Chelsea’s complacency and a 2-0 defeat to Swansea in the Capital One Cup summed it all up.
The two sides will have it all to do when they meet and with both clubs’ strikers, Demba Ba and Le Fondre on fire at the moment, it will be a matter of who can take their chances. The plus-side for Benitez is that Reading have played Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham at home this year and conceded twelve goals.
Shaky at best, McDermott will be hoping his defence don’t let in as many goals as they have so far.
It’ll either be a tough congested game or completely one-sided, depending on which Chelsea come up. Will it be the team that drew 2-2 at Brentford or the one that beat Aston Villa 8-0? If Benitez can get his players motivated, this could be a rout. However, I don’t think it’ll be that easy as Reading are on a very good run and confidence will be high throughout the team.
If the defenders can hold their own against Ba and Torres, the latter task clearly easier than the former, the relegation strugglers could nick a point. I don’t see Reading winning as they have a poor record against big sides but if they get an early goal, it can be their day.
Chelsea know they need to pick up three points for a Champions League spot and keep Spurs and Arsenal at arms length. Reading, unfortunately, will be going down this season.