Fulham look for their first win since the international break against another in form side on Saturday, as the Royals of Reading travel to the Cottage.
Whilst on paper Saturday’s defeat to Brighton was not a huge shock (we wish we’d have stuck a tenner on our 2-1 prediction), coming out of the game without any points was a huge blow after we dominated large swathes of the game. The Seagulls scored two of three meaningful attempts on goal in a clinical display that countered Fulham’s wastefulness in the first half.
Reading have seemingly come from nowhere after an average start and a scintillating run of wins has them currently sitting pretty in the top playoff spot, behind Newcastle and Brighton. Jaap Stam’s side have won five on the bounce and only conceded one goal in the process, albeit against bottom-half opposition, and so confidence in the camp will be high.
That said, Liam Moore, who’s been such a key part of the Reading back line, is suspended, and the Royals will also be without former Chelsea and Brentford midfielder John Swift, who impressed in the early stages of the season, and Republic of Ireland international Stephen Quinn.
Club stalwart Garath McCleary has been rejuvenated under Stam, and has 4 goals in his last 4 games – he leads Reading’s scoring chart with 7 goals this campaign, and must be seen as a dangerman, with Reading’s 4-5-1 formation making use of the physical presence of former Charlton man Yann Kermorgant, who has a fearsome Championship scoring record of his own.
There was a lot of criticism of Stam’s possession based style when he took over at the Madejski, but the Royals’ recent record speaks for itself, and it will be interesting to see how it matches up against Jokanovic’s approach, which is similar in many ways. Despite an ownership saga which seems to be rumbling on behind the scenes, Reading are a club in very good shape and with a good squad of players – a real blend of youth and experience.
Their last 5 results:
- W: Reading 2-1 Bristol City
- W: Reading 3-0 Burton Albion
- W: Wigan Athletic 0-3 Reading
- W: Reading 2-0 Nottingham Forest
- W: Rotherham United 0-1 Reading
Fulhamish’s Starting Line-Up:
Denis Odoi’s one-match suspension means that the right-back dilemma will not be an issue this week, and Fredericks’ rest should mean he’s back to full fitness.
Scott Malone v Garath McCleary
Malone’s running from full-back has provided an outlet which Fulham have exploited properly in some of the Whites’ best performances this season, but it will be his defensive capabilities which are tested by the form of Jamaican international McCleary, who has been at the heart of much that’s been good about the Royals this year. If Malone and Fredericks are able to attack and get on the ball, it will be a sure sign that Fulham are in the ascendency.
Last year’s home game against Reading provided one of the high points of a poor season, and the Royals have traditionally fared badly against the Whites. Whilst they’re on good form, we can see Fulham outclassing a Reading side that often play the same way. We’re plumping for a 3-1 home win, but expect it to be tight until the closing minutes.
Don’t forget to listen to Monday’s episode of Fulhamish for all the reaction to this weekend’s game. Subscribe to the podcast on any of the following platforms (others are available):