STAR PREVIEW: Reading v Fulham
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here’s still fourth spot up for grabs in the Premier League but tonight’s two games between Arsenal v Sunderland and Man City v West Brom will surely only interest the money buyers as both home sides are predictably priced up at very short odds.
I’m switching to the Championship and the delicately poised Reading v Fulham match which finished 1-1 at Craven Cottage. Both sides are pitching to reach Wembley for…… cliche time….. “the richest game in football” – the Championship Play Off Final which will also see either Sheffield Wednesday or Huddersfield involved.
Reading were five points superior to Fulham in the regular season but those kind of stats don’t really count for much at this stage. If anything, I think it counts against the third placed teams who are still cursing the chance of missing out on an automatic spot. However, in this case, perhaps not so much as Newcastle and Brighton pulled clear of the chasing pack.
The three times they have met this season (including the first leg of this play-off) the aggregate reads READING 2 FULHAM 7 which might go some way to explaining why Star have marked up Fulham as favourites tonight despite them being the visitors to the Madejski Stadium.
Reading also have a costly suspension – captain Paul McShane misses the match after his red card in the first leg and compounding the bad news Jordan Obita (the scorer in the first leg) is doubtful with an ankle injury.
No such worries for Fulham who have no fresh injury problems and manager Slavisa Jokanovic could well name the same starting XI.
Jokanovic said ”I’m an optimist, I believe in my players and they believe in themselves and they’ve shown in the first leg that they play with confidence.
“Reading put us in a complicated situation (in the first leg) and we didn’t find enough space for our combinations and we didn’t move the ball with enough pace.
“But I believe we will show our personality as a team in the return leg.
“I’m not scared about the situation, that’s football and yes there’s potential for a penalty shoot-out, but there’s one game in front of us and that’s all.”
Reading v Fulham
Championship Play-Off Semi-Final 2nd Leg
19:45 Sky Sports 3 / Sky Sports 3 HD
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches)
May 2017 CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY-OFF Fulham 1-1 Reading
Jan 2017 CHAMPIONSHIP Reading 1-0 Fulham
Dec 2016 CHAMPIONSHIP Fulham 5-0 Reading
Mar 2016 CHAMPIONSHIP Reading 2-2 Fulham
Oct 2015 CHAMPIONSHIP Fulham 4-2 Reading
Jan 2015 CHAMPIONSHIP Fulham 2-1 Reading
Sep 2014 CHAMPIONSHIP Reading 3-0 Fulham
May 2013 PREMIER LEAGUE Fulham 2-4 Reading
Oct 2012 PREMIER LEAGUE Reading 3-3 Fulham
Apr 2008 PREMIER LEAGUE Reading 0-2 Fulham
Fulham have been scoring for fun this season – 85 goals sharing top spot with Newcastle and Norwich but with so much at stake it’s hard to see many goals here.
I’m splitting stakes on a 0-0 and 1-1 correct score at 12/1 and 13/2 respectively with Star Sports which would send the match into extra time – a scenario which looks more than likely judged on the first leg and given what’s at stake tonight.
RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK 0-0 CORRECT SCORE 4 points at around 12/1 with Star Sports
BACK 1-1 CORRECT SCORE 5 points at around 13/2 with Star Sports
PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: -50.27 points