A buoyant and confident Everton side head to the Madejski to take on a winless Reading side on Saturday afternoon. Everton will be full of confidence after a come from behind win against Sunderland last weekend, a result that saw them maintain the all important 4th place and will be looking to do the same against Reading. As for the hosts, adapting to life in the Premier League has been tough, after blitzing the Championship, Reading are winless in the first 10 games and sit 18th, however, the side can take confidence in that they are unbeaten in the last 3, managing to draw them all, the last of which saw a 0-0 draw against Norwich. 3pts for both sides will be all important, as mentioned, for Everton, they need to maintain the challenge for a Champions League place, and for Reading, the 3pts could be pivotal to their survival bid.
Everton summer signing Steven Naismith had this to say on the upcoming trip to the Madejski
‘Hopefully if I can get in the starting team again I can show what I can do, I think in the games I have played, be it off the bench or starting, I’ve at least been in positions to create chances or be on the end of chances. They’ve not all gone in but it’s a work in progress for me personally at the moment.
‘They showed in the League Cup game against Arsenal (a game which ended in a 7-5 win for the Gunners) that they can play well and be an attacking force, I think with most teams who get promoted, there’s maybe one fixture that kicks them off and we need to make sure that fixture isn’t us. It’s a big game, especially after the wee break for internationals. We want to carry on the good form we’ve shown so far, so it’s a big game but one we’re confident about.’
Reading midfielder Jobi McAnuff had this to say on Everton
‘I guess that you can draw similarities from over the years. They’ve never been a club that’s gone out and spent money on six or seven players – they bring value to the club and so do we. David Moyes has done a great job there and he keeps producing the good as they are still performing well. There’s a great continuity to the club, and the few players that are added in the summer seem to integrate in well. They’ve had a fantastic start to this season and they’re playing some great stuff. On their current form, they’re a side challenging to break into the top four.’
Reading Team News:
The hosts also have some injury concerns, speedster Jimmy Kebe is a doubt with a groin injury. Question marks also hover above Danny Guthie who is struggling with a thigh injury and goalkeeper Alex McCarthy who has a shoulder complaint. Reading will be without long term absentee Karacan after he sustained knee ligament damage.
Possible Starting XI: Federici, Gunter, Morrison, Gorkss, Shorey, McCleary, Leigertwood, Tabb, McAnuff, Hunt, Roberts
Player to watch: Jobi McAnuff
Has been one of the most under rated players this season, plays an important role in this Reading side and is the chief creator for this side. Already notched up numerous assists this season and the central midfield pair of Neville and Osman are defensively susceptible, so if McAnuff can take advantage of that, then he and Reading could stand a very good chance of the 3pts
Everton Team News:
The big question mark for Everton this week was over star wideman Kevin Mirallas who hobbled off against Sunderland with a hamstring injury, in good news for the side, the injury is not as serious as first feared, but will miss the Reading match, but could be in line for a return against Norwich. In injury news, Darron Gibson has returned to training this week, whether Moyes will risk him after a lengthy lay off is still uncertain and could get some game time in the reserves before returning. Hibbert is also recovering from a calf injury and is 50-50 at the moment. Victor Anichebe also looks set to miss the match after sustaining a hamstring injury in the reserve match last week.
Possible Starting XI: Howard, Baines, Heitinga, Jagielka, Coleman, Neville, Osman, Pienaar, Naismith, Fellaini, Jelavic
Player to watch: Marouane Fellaini
His quality was on show against Sunderland last weekend, as he managed to turn the match on two pieces of brilliance, first his goal and then his sublime assist for Jelavic. It has been these type of performances that have pundits talking about the big Belgian, he is the lynch pin in this side, everything revolves around him and if he is up and going, then so is Everton. Reading will need to curb his influence on this match, if they let the big Belgian loose, it won’t be a pretty sight for Reading fans.
Match Facts & Stats
1. In the last 6 games, Everton have conceded the first goal, however, in each of these games they have managed to fight back for 4 draws and 2 wins
2. This Everton side has scored 21 goals through the first 11 games, the highest amount since the glorious days of the 80’s
3. Everton have just lost once in the last 20 league games, which came against West Brom at the start of the season
4. Everton and Reading have faced each other 7 times, with Everton leading 5-2, however, the last time these sides met, it was Reading victorious 1-0 in the FA Cup in 2011
5. The last time Everton travelled to the Madejski was back in the 2007/08 campaign where they lost 1-0
Despite being winless so far, Reading have been a tough nut to crack, and at home, you would expect them to be very tough to beat, however, you look at both sides, and you feel that Everton should have too much quality for this side and take the 3pts, however, as we all know, football isn’t played on paper. But this Everton side is impressive the fight and spirit in this side, to come from behind in 6 consecutive games is unheard of, however, would love to see a match where Everton actually score first. I am going for a hard fought 2-1 win for Everton, with Fellaini and Jelavic scoring for Everton and McAnuff with a consolation for Reading. COYB!!! ANOTHER 3PTS PLEASE LADS, AND CAN WE NOT CONCEDE FIRST FOR ONCE FFS!!!