Reading will take on Bournemouth at the Madejski Stadium in the Championship on Friday, 29 January 2021.
Bournemouth triumphed 4-2 when these two sides met earlier in the season at the Vitality Stadium on 21 November 2020, mounting an impressive comeback after being 2-0 down at the break.
With their latest win against Reading, The Cherries are now enjoying a five-game winning streak against the Royals and are also unbeaten in their last 8 competitive meetings (6-2-0).
Reading Betting Preview
Neighbours in the table, fifth-placed Reading are two points clear of the Cherries and could level Watford in second, should they return to winning ways following a goalless draw at Preston on Sunday.
The Royals were last in the Premier League in 2012–13 and it seems that they might have a decent opportunity to claim promotion this season. The last time Reading were close to returning to the top-flight was in 2016–17, when the Berkshire outfit finished third in the Championship under Jaap Stam’s guidance but they lost on penalties to Huddersfield Town the Championship play-offs final.
Reading enjoyed a terrific start of life under newly appointed manager Veljko Paunović – winning seven of their opening eight games and remaining unbeaten in the process – but they have not been that convincing since.
However, the massive progress is obvious as Reading finished 14th in 2019-20, while they now have a realistic chance to be in contention for the top-two spots.
Reading suffered a 1-0 defeat at Luton Town in the FA Cup third round on 9 January, otherwise they can now boast a five-game unbeaten run in the Championship (3-2-0), conceding just two goals in the process.
Interestingly, Luton Town were the ones that also knocked out Reading from the League Cup competition in September, yet the Royals were victorious when these two sides met in the Championship at the Madejski Stadium on Boxing Day and their 2-1 home win over The Hatters inspired their current run of form.
With 17 goals to his name in 20 appearances so far this season (14 goals in 19 Championship matches), Lucas João is clearly enjoying his most prolific campaign. The 27-years-old Portuguese forward had already missed several games before Christmas and during the festive period and the Royals were not particularly effective without their ace, scoring five goals in five Championship matches (2-1-2) between 12 December and 30 December.
Michael Olise (4 goals and 8 assists in 23 Championship appearances), who has been named EFL Young Player of the Month for December, is set to miss out as he suffered a shoulder injury in last week’s 3-0 win over Coventry City.
Furthermore, Felipe Araruna and Yakou Meite (6 goals in 12 Championship appearances) are both a couple of weeks away from potential returns for Reading, but centre-back Liam Moore is out for at least another four to six weeks.
George Pușcaș also remains a long-term absentee for the home side as the Romanian forward is recovering from a surgery.
Bournemouth Betting Preview
This will be Bournemouth’s first league game since a 1-0 defeat at the hands of a struggling Derby County side on 19 January and the Cherries will be keen to extend their winning streak against Reading.
After four consecutive seasons in the Premier League and an end of Eddie Howe’s tenure, Bournemouth will be keen to regain their top-flight status but the Cherries need to be more consistent if they want to claim automatic promotion under Jason Tindall’s lead.
Jason Tindall was an assistant of Eddie Howe for many years and the 43-years-old manager seems to be the most wise option to succeed Howe if the South East club wants to make a smooth transition.
The Cherries have ended their three-game winless run with a 2-1 FA Cup victory over Crawley Town on Tuesday night. However, Bournemouth are winless in three and have won only one of their last six Championship matches (1-2-3).
Former England international and Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere returned to Bournemouth (for the second time after 2016-17) on a short-term deal earlier this month and he quickly had an impact, scoring the opener against Crawley Town.
Joshua King scored the winner against Crawley Town yet the Norway forward still struggles to score his first league goal of the season and top goalscorer Dominic Solanke (10 goals and six assists in 25 Championship appearances) is expected to lead the line here.
Since he joined Bournemouth in January 2019, Solanke failed to make an impression in the Premier League, scoring just three goals in 42 top-flight appearances during 2018-19 and 2019-20, but the former Liverpool player does better in the Championship and the 23-years-old Reading-born forward already netted a brace against his hometown’s club when these two sides last met in November.
Defender Chris Mepham and Junior Stanislas are both ruled out for Bournemouth as the latter has been a pivotal figure for Cherries, starting 16 of the club’s 23 Championship games and scoring seven goals this season.
Possible Starting Lineups of Reading and Bournemouth
Reading: Rafael Cabral – Thomas Holmes, Michael Morrison, Tom McIntyre, Omar Richards – Josh Laurent, Andy Rinomhota – Sone Aluko, John Swift, Ovie Ejaria – Lucas João. (4-2-3-1)
Bournemouth: Asmir Begovic – Jack Stacey, Steve Cook, Lloyd Kelly, Diego Rico – Jefferson Lerma, Jack Wilshere, Lewis Cook – David Brooks, Joshua King, Arnaut Danjuma. (4-3-3)
Spooky Express Betting Prediction
Bournemouth are +128 favorites to once again beat Reading, while you can back the Royals at odds of +210 with BetOnline. Meanwhile, a draw can also be backed at +215.
The Cherries can boast the second best attacking record in the English Championship – scoring 38 goals in 25 matches so far – and they now face the most leaking defense within the top-eight clubs.
Veljko Paunovic’s men have conceded 28 goals in their 25 league games thus far, yet they also have the joint-third-best attacking record in the Championship (with 37 goals), so we have a reason to expect another thrilling clash between these two sides – as in the first leg.
Spooky Express Free Play: Over 2, 2½ (2.25) Goals -113 @ BetOnline for 7/10 Units