After both of these sides had contrasting fortunes in the FA Cup, Reading and Chelsea face off at the Madejski Stadium in a mid-week Premier League fixture. The Royals are slowly finding some form in the Premier League, having won three of their previous six games and are just one point away from safety. Chelsea however, are stuttering under the management of Rafa Benitez. Despite four consecutive wins on the road for the Blues, their home form is severely letting them down.
Reading manager Brian McDermott – ‘We’re getting there. We’re working really hard with the group, we’re getting better as a group and we’re enjoying the challenge. All we’re trying to do is get a result against Chelsea, do our best and we’ll add up the points in May and see where we are. There’s no point dwelling on it [defeat at Chelsea in August] really. We played well on the night and should have got something from the game. Torres’ goal was offside but there’s no point in harping on about that – it’s done and dusted.’
Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez – ‘We have to concentrate on our job. I was talking today with Frank Lampard, John Terry and David Luiz. We were just talking about football. They know the way to change things is to win, we were winning nine days ago and we have to get back to doing that. I have a lot of confidence in the team. We have good players, they are training well and it’s a question of keeping the consistency.’
Reading Team News:
Reading will give a late fitness test to Noel Hunt ahead of this game, who picked up a knock during training a few days ago. Fellow striker Jason Roberts is a long-term injury problem, as he is suffering from a recurrent hip problem.
Player to watch: Adrian Mariappa
The central defender has been in fantastic form in recent games, but will have a very tough test against Demba Ba. I can remember him struggling with the physicality of the forward when we met Newcastle back in September, but I’m sure Mapps will be up for the challenge.
Chelsea Team News:
Chelsea have mounting injury problems, with goalkeeper Petr Cech out with a calf problem and David Luiz struggling with an ankle knock. Belgium international Eden Hazard is still suspended after his red card against Swansea. Both Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel are at the African Cup of Nations with Nigeria.
Player to watch: Juan Mata
The Spaniard has been Chelsea’s best player this season in my opinion and will be the biggest threat for the Blues tonight. Superb ball control, creativity and has a good eye for goal.
Reading: Federici, Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte, Leigertwood, Guthrie, Kebe, McAnuff, McCleary, Pogrebnyak
Chelsea: Turnbull, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Cole, Lampard, Marin, Oscar, Ramires, Mata, Ba
The referee for this game will be Mark Halsey, with his assistants Ron Ganfield and Darren Cann. The fourth official will be Roger East.
Now we have reverted to a much more conservative formation, I don’t expect us to be walked over, like we have been in recent months with teams of Chelsea’s quality. However, their very good away form under Benitez does make me worry and I can see us just losing out.
Vital Reading prediction: Reading 0 – 1 Chelsea
Reading – Sunderland (H) – Saturday 2nd February – Premier League
Chelsea – Newcastle (A) – Saturday 2nd February – Premier League