CHAMPIONSHIP GAME OF THE WEEKEND
Leicester City v Reading – Saturday 13th August 2011 – 3.00 kick-off
Last time the sides met
Reading 3-1 Leicester City (Saturday 16th April 2011)
Kebe (19), King (79)
Two of the Championship’s promotion candidates go head-to-head on Saturday as Leicester entertain Reading at the King Power Stadium. Both teams
enter the game on a high as the Foxes were forced to show grit and determination to win 1-0 against Coventry. Whilst the Royals snatched a point from the jaws of defeat at home to Millwall, thanks to Mathieu Manset’s impressive late brace. Undoubtedly, Sven Goran Eriksson’s side will be under huge pressure to start their home campaign with victory. This might play into Brian McDermott’s hands, as he has masterminded notable F.A Cup scalps defeating Mersey giants Everton and Liverpool on their own turfs.
Transfers In: Transfers Out:
Lee Peltier (Huddersfield Town) Michael Larney (Wisla Krakow)
Kasper Schmeichel (Leeds United) Jack Hobbs (Hull City)
Neil Danns (Crystal Palace)
Sean St Ledger (Preston North End)
David Nugent (Portsmouth)
Matt Mills (Reading)
Paul Konchesky (Liverpool)
John Pantsil (Fulham)
Michael Johnson (On loan from Manchester City)
Gelson Fernandes (On loan from St Etienne)
Michael Ball (Free Agent)
When Sven Goran Eriksson arrived at Leicester in October 2010, the Foxes were routed to the bottom of the Championship after Paulo Sousa’s reign
as manager came to an abrupt end. However, the Swede turned the Walker’s Stadium into a fortress as Leicester went on an eight-game unbeaten run in January. This prompted the Foxes towards a late charge for a play-off spot, which was eventually halted by Nottingham Forest in April.
Yet it is the spending power provided by Thai businessman Vichai Raksriaksorn that has set Leicester apart from other competitors. He will demand a return however, meaning the former England manager will be under immense pressure to win promotion this season. However, Eriksson’s illustrious
career demonstrates that he has never been afraid of pressure and believes he now has the tools at his disposal to end an eight-year exile away from the top flight.
Having narrowly defeated Coventry City on their own turf, Sven will believe that the Foxes can establish themselves in top spot with two winnable home
fixtures. Perhaps a point this weekend wouldn’t be too disastrous, providing they defeat a lowly Bristol City on Tuesday night. Given the attacking talent at his disposal, Sven is expected to change his system to 4-4-1-1, with Andy King replacing the suspended Darius Vassell in an advanced role.
Expected Starting Line-Up
L.Peltier (RB) M.Mills (CB) S.Bamba (CB) P.Konchesky (LB)
Y.Abe (RM) N.Danns (CM) R.Wellens (CM) G.Fernandes (LM)
Transfers In: Transfers Out:
Mikele Leigertwood (Queens Park Rangers) Matt Mills (Leicester City)
Bongani Khumalo (On loan from Tottenham Hotspur) Scott Davies (Crawley Town)
Ivar Ingimarsson (Ipswich Town)
David Mooney (Leyton Orient)
Julian Kelly (Notts County)
Despite a number of impressive performances last season, Brain McDermott and his Reading side may struggle to recover from an almost embarrassing play-off final defeat to Swansea City. Since then, highly-rated defender Matt Mills has departed to join this weekend’s opponents, whilst Shane Long
eventually opted for the Premier League as he joined West Bromwich Albion. Time will tell as to whether these departures derail a potential promotion push from the Royals. Yet owner John Madejski has proved his shrewdness in the past and will be delighted with the £12m recoupment of these sales.
“What we’ve got is unique really, the players really enjoy being here and working for each other”. Reading manager Brian McDermott on the club’s team spirit.
McDermott has created an admirable team spirit, ensuring that each player fights until the final whistle. Last season, Reading scored a total of 19 goals in the final 10 minutes. Matheiu Manset’s goals in the 86th and 89th minutes last weekend, demonstrate that the Royals never know when they are beaten. Perhaps last season’s most memorable moment came at the City Ground as Simon Church scored a dramatic 90th minute winner to make the score 4-3 to the Royals. This result was embedded in the eight games that Reading won in a row, illustrating their consistency that has been typical of previous title-winning sides. If McDermott can repeat this consistency throughout the course of the season, then the Royals will push for the title.
Expected Starting Line-Up
A.Griffin (RB) B.Khumalo (CB) A.Pearce (CB) I.Harte (LB)
J.Kebe (RW) J.Karacan (CM) M.Leigertwood (CM) J.McAnuff (LW)
Tactical Battle – Where the game might be won and lost
Both managers have intriguing dilemmas with regards to their team selections for this weekend’s fixture. Does Sven take the promising Ghanaian striker Jeffery Schlupp’s performance into consideration? His Carling Cup hattrick at Rotherham United on Tuesday night should be enough to earn him a place on the bench.
Will Brian McDermott replace Shane Long with goal-scoring hero Mathieu Manset or Welsh International striker Simon Church? Manset, 22, possesses the attributes to bully defenders and hold the ball up for the likes of Hunt, McAnuff and Karacan, but his lack of experience might go against him, particularly away from home.
As the home side, the onus will be on Leicester to attack Reading from the first whistle. Yet this may play into Reading’s hands as they have the players in Jimmy Kebe and Jobi McAnuff to launch devastating counter-attacks from the flanks. In Mikele Leigertwood, they have an anchor who will shield the back four. Yet Leicester may also target the flanks as Ian Harte and Andy Griffin in particular, may lack the pace to deal with overlapping runs from Lee Peltier and Paul Konchesky, who both like to get forward.
Both sides have the attacking talent to produce an entertaining game so I will go for a 2-2 draw, with Reading snatching yet another point in the latter stages of the game.
Sol Bamba – 6/1 (Anytime Goalscorer) – The towering central defender has been linked with Blackburn Rovers this week and has the physical presence of Chris Samba. He has often been a major threat from set pieces, and Reading’s side isn’t exactly the tallest. All of his goals have come at the King Power
Stadium, so he might be worth a look at.
Ian Harte – 18/1 (First Goalscorer) – With similar odds to Bamba, the experienced left back scored 11 goals last season. As the set-piece specialist, he is another that might have gone under the radar by Paddy Power. Whether it is first goalscorer, anytime or last goalscorer, perhaps he is seriously worth considering.