Preview: Reading v United

Wayne Rooney scored on the last occasion Manchester United played at the narcissistically named Madejski Stadium; Sir Alex Ferguson’s side running out 2-0 winners in 2008. The stat provides neither guide, nor omen, ahead of Saturday’s trip to Reading, although United’s record over the Berkshire side shows just one defeat since these teams first met in February 1912.

And with Reading lying just above the Premier League’s gutter, few expect a turnaround in historical fortunes this weekend. Rooney may fancy adding to a season’s tally that boasts just three goals in 14 appearances.

Injuries aside, Sir Alex Ferguson is likely to select a strong side at the Madejski, with a dead rubber against CFR Cluj in midweek providing air cover should the Scot choose to rest his leading lights before next weekend’s derby. While the 9 December clash with Manchester City is coming over the horizon fast, any thoughts of a comfortable victory this weekend are countered with memories of United labouring to victory over relegation fodder Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers in recent weeks.

Last weekend’s attritional victory over QPR was followed in quick order this week by another under-par performance against West Ham United at Old Trafford. It has become a pattern in a season that is yet to truly come to life.

Yet, there is much evidence that the onset of winter provides the historical point at which Ferguson’s side truly comes to life – losing just six of more than 50 December fixtures in the past decade. Still, if United is to continue that record, Ferguson’s side must do it without wide men Antonio Valenica and Nani on Saturday.

“Nani and Valencia are still out,” confirmed Sir Alex.

“Nani will be out for four or five weeks. It’s a hamstring injury and you have to take your time with it. Antonio should be fit for next week. He’s got a hip injury, which is painful, but getting better. Nick Powell has had a virus but should be okay for tomorrow and Giggs had a slight hamstring strain but should also be okay.”

Reading v Manchester United - Premier League, Madejski Stadium - Saturday 1 December, 5.30pmPaul Scholes returns from a midweek suspension, while the rash of midfield absentees in wide areas makes for a departure from United’s season-long defensive injury list. With Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans each fit, only captain Nemanja Vidić remains on the sidelines.

“Nemanja Vidić ;has started training, which is good news,” added Ferguson

“For the last year and a half, I think he’s only played around 10 or 12 games. The best way forward for us is to listen to Vida himself. He has the experience to know what’s best for him and know when the time is right to come back into the team.

“He started training in the week and he did okay. He hasn’t been involved in the real competitive part but at least he’s back training with the first team. It would be nice to play him on Wednesday. I wouldn’t be adverse to playing him on Wednesday. I think he’s done all his work but he needs matches. Good defenders win you the league.”

Meanwhile, under-pressure Reading manager Brian McDermott is without Jimmy Kebe, Alex McCarthy and Jem Karacan through injury, although Danny Guthrie could be available after suffering a thigh problem.

Injuries do little to help McDermott’s prospects. Reading has picked up just nine Premier League points to date, with more than a third of the season completed. Just won win at home, complimented by four draws, and just nine goals tells the story of the campaign. Pavel Pogrebnyak’s brace in the Premier League, complimented by just three from Adam Le Fondre underpins the essential weakness in Reading’s make-up.

Still, with McDermott’s men fighting for survival, and United seemingly keen to ship cheap goals, no matter how profligate the rival, Reds’ will count no points until Saturday draws to a close.

“I’ve never had any doubts. I know how close we are,” McDermott bluffed this week. “We do the right things every day and if we keep doing that, the right results will come our way, I’m absolutely convinced of that. But I’m not stupid, we need results.”

History says the result is unlikely to go his way, yet with three defeats in the Premier League already this season Ferguson’s men hold no guarantees ahead of the trip south.

Match Details
Reading v Manchester United – Premier League, Madejski Stadium – Saturday 1 December 2012, 5.30pm

Possible teams
United (4-2-3-1): Lindegaard; Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra; Carrick, Scholes; Young, Rooney, Giggs; van Persie. Subs from: De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Anderson, Powell, Wootton, Buttner, Fletcher, Cleverley, Hernandez, Welbeck, Henríquez.

Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Gunter, Gorkass, Morrison, Shorey; McAnuff, Leigertwood, Tabb, Robson-Kanu; Le Fondre, Roberts. Subs from: Taylor, Pearce, Harte, Guthrie, Mariappa, Gunnarsson, Pogrebnyak, Cummings, Hunt, McCleary

Officials
Referee: M Halsey
Assistants: D Bryan, L Betts
Fourth official: A Marriner

Form
Reading: LDDWLL
United: WWLLWW

Head to Head
Last 10: Reading 0, United 6, Draw 4
Overall: Reading 1, United 8, Draw 7

Stats

  • Reading missed out on a point at Aston Villa on Tuesday, conceding a late header to lose 1-0 in the Midlands;
  • Defender Kaspar Gorkss has racked up 84 interceptions and successfully completed 63 per cent of tackles this season, but has managed zero shots on target from nine attempts;
  • Jobi McAnuff has dribbled more often that any of his team-mates with 13 and providing 33 crosses to boot;
  • Adrian Mariappa has racked up 12 blocks according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index;
  • Midfielder Mikele Leigertwood continues to underline his importance in the Reading engine room having successfully completed more tackles that any other Royals’ player with 34;
  • Meanwhile, Robin van Persie struck after just thirty seconds to secure three points for United last weekend, although the Dutchman now trails Liverpool’s Luis Suarez in the golden boot standings – van persie hasn’t scored a brace in 11 games for United, with the Uruguayan achieving the feat twice in the same period;
  • Anders Lindegaard got the nod ahead of David de Gea to start in goal for United in midweek, with little to choose between the pair statistically – Lindegaard has saved 79.4 per cent of the 34 shots on target he’s faced, while De Gea has saved 76.2 per cent of 42 shots on target;
  • Michael Carrick set up United’s early strike last week, and was also the side’s second hardest worker for the third consecutive match, covering 6.32 miles against West Ham;
  • Rafael da Silva has continued to develop this season and is United’s most successful tackler this season, winning 24 of his challenges;
  • United has kept just one clean sheet in seven away games this season.

Prediction
0-1

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Comments

  1. bman says

    DG
    Raf – Rio – Evans – Evra
    Welbeck – Carrick – Scholes – Young
    Roo – RVP

    Don’t like it much, but I suspect we’ll see something like that.

  2. Andrew says

    Wouldnt mind seeing Anderson-son-son getting a start….the guy has absolutely everything unfortunately including a taste for Maccas.

  3. AnantaxAnantax says

    Think Anderson will start. He was pretty good vs West Ham. The problem is seeing how the assists will come without wingers….
    Despite that i Think we’ll win 2-0
    The City game has me concerned, but think game plan there is to keep it tight and play for a draw…

  4. Will says

    First season I can remember since about 91/92 I’m a bag of nerves before every kick off. The stakes are high, and I’ve not a great deal of confidence in this side (or the forever changing system). Reading could well score, if Van Persie, Rooney turn up then we may be OK, otherwise I feel it’s going to be another enervating grind! 2-1 United (I hope).

  5. Minus The Bear says

    Odd comments from Ferguson about the goalkeepers and rotation – “am I not happy to rotate all the time – I don’t think it creates consistency”. Correct, but evidence suggests to the contrary of that statement.

    If he wants to piss about with the formation and team, play the OAP’s and those struggling for form against Cluj.

  6. Minus The Bear says

    De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Giggs, Hernandez, Welbeck, Cleverley.

    Doesn’t matter Giggs has got a hamstring strain, still gets on the bench. Ferguson keeping Scholes to be made a pet of by Yaya Toure.

  7. AnantaxAnantax says

    If we win this by more than 2 goals we’ll still be on top regardless what happens at eastlands on the 9th!!

    Come on lads!!!!

  8. RobDiabloRobDiablo says

    Anantax said:
    If we win this by more than 2 goals we’ll still be on top regardless what happens at eastlands on the 9th!!

    How do figure that?

    • Damian Garside says

      And so if we lose 6-1 we will be thrilled to still be top! What nonsense: after last season’s punishment from City a loss will not be good for morale. And a by loss will be devastating. A big win at the Etihad, on the other hand, and we coud use it as a springboard to take the league at a canter. But please AF: no God tells you in a dream to play Scholes and Giggs v Toure et al DON’T DO IT!

  9. AnantaxAnantax says

    RobDiablo said:
    How do figure that?

    City level points with us with 2 goal difference better after Everton draw. If we win 3 points puts us above them. If we get better than 2 goals we’ll have better goal difference, so even if we’re beat at city we’ll still be on top (depends on how many goals we get beat by of course!) shouldve said if e win by 4 goals to be safe

  10. Minus The Bear says

    It’s not even a surprise anymore. Take note United’s shite selection of wingers that is how you cross.

  11. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    sidney said:
    FFS I can’t be arsed this time, another fucking comback

    And they play music when they score

    I know what you mean, it’s so depressing seeing this current United side.

  12. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    FFS. We’ll concede more and more. Get FUCKING Evans OFF!

    He’s fucking horrific.

    FERGIE GET THE FUCK UP AND GET THIS SHIT SORTED OUT YOU CUNT.

  13. Minus The Bear says

    This is insane. Get Evans off now. Put fucking giggs on do something, just get Evans off this pitch. He’s responsible for everyone of the goals.

  14. Minus The Bear says

    Haha this is going to be Lindegaard’s last game for a while. Evra is being made Hal Robson Kanu’s bitch.

  15. Minus The Bear says

    It’s so fucking simple, we can pass it around them no problems. There is a reason they only have 9 points.

  16. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    HAHAHA!!!
    subbed already??!!
    Yet Evans still on?!

    The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits…..

  17. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    thats shouldve been his bastard son coming off, ffs hes leaving trails of diarrehea all over the pitch, retire jock twat

  18. Sidsidney says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    thats shouldve been his bastard son coming off, ffs hes leaving trails of diarrehea all over the pitch, retire jock twat

    Lol jesus

  19. Violent Banana says

    Rafael substitution seems right; Smalling gives us some height and with the booking Raf was treading a fine line.
    He could do with a rest.

  20. sheesh says

    Fergie will kill them at half time.

    Not that his hairdryers have made any difference to the quality of our performances.

  21. bman says

    You’d expect us to come out and win the second half comfortably, but the way this season is going and with that mickey mouse of a midfield we’ve got there now, who knows.

  22. bman says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    cleverley should know where he stands with taggart now

    Jones is the new O’Shea, Cleverly is the new Gibson.

  23. sheesh says

    You just wonder why in gods name he won’t sign a couple of tough tackling midfielders.

    We don’t need to be this shit. It is so frustrating.

  24. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    now rafaels been subbed off early motd will do a 5 minute piece about how shit he is even though this is evans lindegaard and bastard sons fault

  25. 19 and counting says

    Can’t believe we are top of the league with this crap defense and SAFs player selection. What does this say about the EPL?

  26. bman says

    Yeah I don’t think Fergie took Raf off because he thought it was all his fault, but what do I know. In any case, it was nice to see Raf so angry to be subbed, the lad’s got heart.

  27. sheesh says

    Commenter said:
    Can’t believe we are top of the league with this crap defense and SAFs player selection. What does this say about the EPL?

    Worryingly that is probably our strongest team of all players who are fit and available.

    Before anyone mentions Cleverley, he’s not exactly pulling up trees this season.

  28. bman says

    Evans fails to head the ball clear, Carrick robbed in midfield because he can’t dribble past Reading. We desperately need new signings in this club.

  29. Sidsidney says

    bman said:
    Evans fails to head the ball clear, Carrick robbed in midfield because he can’t dribble past Reading. We desperately need new signings in this club.

    Not really though, we’re top, and we’ll finish in the top two
    With the state of the opposition this season this is enough
    Europe is a different matter

  30. Minus The Bear says

    I don’t actually think he’s that bad, he’s just having a horrible, horrible game. It doesn’t help that him and Ferdinand are too similar, they both need a nutter who will win every ball and they can drop off and mop up. Smalling is far better in the air in that regard.

    Another foul by Tabb yet no yellow. Go figure.

  31. bman says

    Evans, Lindgaard, and Fletch have all been absolute abject. Young and Carrick have been shit in a more commonplace manner. RVP off? Wtf

  32. Sidsidney says

    Fergie stamping his authority on this team

    He subbed Rooney last week for being shit n all

    There’s definitely complacency in the squad, probably some arrogance

    After today several players will have new arseholes

  33. AnantaxAnantax says

    sidney said:
    Fergie stamping his authority on this team

    He subbed Rooney last week for being shit n all

    There’s definitely complacency in the squad, probably some arrogance

    After today several players will have new arseholes

    Not sure of this. Tought fergie gave him a pat in the back as he came off? Or maybe thats not Fergie?

  34. sheesh says

    sidney said:
    Fergie stamping his authority on this team

    He subbed Rooney last week for being shit n all

    There’s definitely complacency in the squad, probably some arrogance

    After today several players will have new arseholes

    I’m not hopeful. We have been playing shit all season.

  35. Sidsidney says

    Anantax said:
    Not sure of this. Tought fergie gave him a pat in the back as he came off? Or maybe thats not Fergie?

    He does that with most players. He’ll be pleased he’s scored like, but if he was in Fergie’s good books he’d still be on the pitch.
    If Reading get something from this game he’ll blame it on his miss in the post macth interview
    He’s kicking arse, bruising egos, tearing new arseholes ahead of City

  36. 19 and counting says

    I don’t care if we’re top of the league. This is the worst United side I can remember and without RVP, where would we be right now?

  37. AnantaxAnantax says

    Abject abjct abject dfensive display against the worst team in the league…,

    The only feasible option for the derby is to park the bus…keep it tight, play for a draw.

    If we try to come out it’ll be another 6-1

  38. Sidsidney says

    The dressing room will feel like a loss because that was fucking shite

    There’ll be a few bruised egos in there, and good, the cunts needed a kicking before City

    Hopefully there will be a reaction

  39. sheesh says

    Commenter said:
    ‘Next week the Manchester Derby.’ Jesus, next week another 6-1 hiding.

    And we are supposedly the top team in the country at this moment in time.

    We will get walloped, no question.

  40. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    degea smalling rio evans evra carrick scholes fletcher, giggs rooney persie

    taggarts side for city

    • 19 and counting says

      I assume none of Vidic, Valencia, Kagawa, and Nani will be playing so looks bad for us. We better hope Mancini plays defensive and cautious or well get destroyed in the middle of the park.

  41. Violent Banana says

    Thought Ando was terrific today; would love to see him against City but doubt he’ll have recovered in time

  42. steggo says

    As far as I can make out the summer signings were made to stop us losing the league on goal difference again. Perhaps somebody should point out to Fergie that goal difference is made up two elements, goals for and goals against. Logic would dictate,therefore, that although scoring goals is important,not conceding is equally so.Why then no DCM or no decent CH signed? How long before Fergie realises that Evans is second rate-he is not going to get any better.
    Goal difference is a moot point however, after throwing away an 8 point lead in April.Thats the worrying thing, not goal difference.

  43. Damian Garside says

    Dear Sir Alex

    Like you, we are tired of the noise coming from our noisy neighbours revving up their Ferraris and Lamborghinis. Luckily, they still have a lotto learn about driving.

    On the score of vehicles: posters here are already calling 4 u to park the bs at the Etihad next weekend. My suggestion: a bus may not be enough: so many windows to protect: park maybe a Challenger tank, or even the Titanic, or the iceberg that sank it. Then we can get the glorious 0-0 draw that doesn’t give them the league just yet.

  44. jinomoja says

    Why even bother with a defence?
    Let’s just play a team of 11 attackers & make it like those schoolyard games. First team to get 10 goals wins.

  45. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    thats shouldve been his bastard son coming off, ffs hes leaving trails of diarrehea all over the pitch, retire jock twat

    LOL…

    Wow… spent the day at Drayton Manor… sounds like I missed a thriller though.

    Come on… we won the game, 3 more points, top of the table, and all the signs are we can play better… and City have not been tearing up any trees.

    We’ll win.

  46. sheesh says

    We got West Ham away in FA Cup Draw. I’m so happy we’re not at home. Expensive enough as it is watching United. Wenger will be seething. One less cup for Arsenal to win lol.
    Full draw:
    Crystal Palace v Stoke
    Brighton v Newcastle
    Tottenham v Coventry City
    Wigan v Bournemouth
    Fulham v Blackpool
    Aston Villa v Ipswich
    Charlton v Huddersfield
    Barrow or Macclesfield v Cardiff
    Barnsley v Burnley
    Manchester City v Watford
    Swansea v Arsenal
    Leicester v Burton
    Millwall v Preston
    Cheltenham or Hereford v Everton
    Derby v Tranmere
    Crawley v Reading
    Aldershot v Rotherham or Notts County
    Middlesbrough v Harrogate or Hastings
    Accrington Stanley or Oxford v Sheffield United
    Southampton v Chelsea
    QPR v West Brom
    Peterborough v Norwich
    Lincoln or Mansfield v Liverpool
    Bolton v Sunderland
    Nottingham Forest v Oldham
    West Ham v Manchester United
    Hull v Alfreton or Leyton Orient
    Blackburn v Bristol City
    Leeds v Birmingham
    Bury or Southend v Bradford or Brentford
    Luton v Wolves
    Sheffield Wednesday v MK Dons

  47. Sidsidney says

    West Ham FFS

    There is no magic of the FA Cup for United. We never get to play at these proper little grounds where you can stand etc. it’s always Prem teams.

  48. han says

    looks like no one at rant is bothered enough to post the draw as a separate thread…:(

    west ham away could be a tricky game especially if SAF decides to play the young guns

  49. sheesh says

    Fergie will at least pick a decent team.
    If we’d had a home draw to some shite team we would have struggled like we always do (e.g. – Crawley Town).
    Also, who can forget the horrors of Exeter City and Burton Albion?

  50. Denton Davey says

    Steggo @ 11:07: “Goal difference is a moot point however, after throwing away an 8 point lead in April.Thats the worrying thing, not goal difference.”

    What’s odd about the “goal difference” is that last season – in the crunch – TheLads couldn’t score (no goals away against Wigan AND in the capitulation at Shitty) while this season they don’t seem able to defend (three goals against Spurs (@ OT) and yesterday three goals against Reading (Reading, ffs !).

    What complicates matters is the midfield conundrum – if SAF goes conservative and plays some version of Carrick/Scholes then those two get over-run and the four attackers are not getting service; with Anderson out, if he goes more aggressive then he has to sacrifice width to have a midfield of Carrick and YoungTom and DarrenFletcherinho.

    Against ManShitty width is going to be over-rated since they tend to play the ball through the middle – GreatBigHugeYaYa and Davide Silva are the guys tasked with “creativity”. On the other hand, ManShitty’s full-backs – Kolarov, Maicon, Zabaleta, and Clichy (I guess that Micah Richards is crocked) – do provide very good attacking width but not one is a reliable crosser. Up-front, only Dzeko is a legitimate target-man and he’s a pretty “soft” player. So, I’d imagine that the defensive game-plan will be to force the full-backs wide and make them play the ball backwards when/if they run into a dead end. The wild card is going to be SuperMario – who has great size and strength but is incredibly unpredictable, which is probably a point in his favour if he’s played for 90 minutes. To a lesser extent, Carlitos is another wild card – super-energetic which creates chaos for defenders and, like Aguero, very strong in his lower body.

    For a team like UTD – which is having real defensive problems in co-ordination – ManShitty are going to present multiple problems in terms of defensive organization. A half-speed Rio and a rusty-Vidic will only compound those problems – Jonny Evans was frightful yesterday but he has been pretty reliable for most of the season and must start. I’d be astonished if SAF goes with BigManSmalling alongside Evans because he always seeks refuge in “experience”. So, there’s lots of jeopardy in the center of UTD’s defence – SO playing Michael Carrick seems a no -brainer since it’s unlikely that UTD will be set up to go for goal/a win. Rather, I see a battle of attrition in which defensive mistakes create the result.

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