Reading v West Ham Preview
After having to sit back and watch everyone else enjoy a Boxing Day fixture, knowing our clash with Arsenal had been postponed, it`ll be great to get back into action this Saturday when we travel to Berkshire to take on a struggling Reading side. The big question is whether we can get straight back into our stride and take all three points!
Big Sam will be delighted that the red card Carlton Cole received during the Everton game has ben rescinded.
Speaking about the news, ahead of the fixture, Big Sam has remarked,
"I am delighted we have probably got a bit of justice as it deserved to be turned around."
"There was never any doubt in my mind. The way he is playing at the moment it would have been a massive loss for us."
"He`s been outstanding for us since Andy Carroll got injured and we didn`t want to miss a player of his importance for the next three very important games - Reading away, Norwich at home and a big cup tie against Manchester United."
"To have experienced Premier League players available at this time of the year is very important."
Hopefully Carlton can produce the performance we need to bring the three points back to East London.
Reading Team News:
Brian McDermott, starting to feel the pressure in the Reading hot-seat, will be grateful that he is able to contemplate selecting his starting eleven for this match with no new injury concerns after the Boxing Day fixture with Swansea.
The only notable absentee will be their striker, Jason Roberts, who is nearing a return from injury but will not be ready for our visit.
Player to watch: Pavel Pogrebnyak
All has not gone well for the Russian since he left Fulham to go to Reading. The striker, who looked so good during his Fulham days hasn`t quite hit top form yet but beware, he could explode into life at any time!
West Ham Team News:
Although Big Sam still has several players on the long term injury list, we reckon the boss will have had a smile on his face when news came through that Carlton Cole`s red card had been rescinded. He`ll also have smiled with the news that Jack Collison is available for consideration this weekend as well. It seems that Lady Luck is finally shining on us with regards to getting a full squad back together.
Player to watch: Carlton Cole
With the red card he received against Everton having been rescinded, Carlton will be able to continue about his merry way and continue to show that, in the absence of Andy Carroll, he can lead the line with some aplomb. Don`t be too surprised if Carlton gets on the score-sheet this Saturday.
Match Facts & Stats
If we look at head-to-head fixtures, in recent years, West Ham will have to buck the trend. Last season, when Reading achieved automatic promotion from the Championship and we came up via the play-off final, the Berkshire side did the double over us winning 4-2 on our patch and 3-0 on their patch.
Also, some five years ago, when the teams met on New Year`s Day in 2007, we got thrashed 6-0!
Reading`s recent form is poor, the 0-0 draw with Swansea, on Boxing Day, ended a run of seven straight defeats, although our recent form isn`t exactly something to shout about with the Hammers having won 1, drawn 2 and lost 4 of the last seven.
On the road, goals have been scarce for West Ham with only 5 on the board, Reading though are also struggling to hit the net having only scored once in their last five games, 0-0 draw anyone?
Our officials for this intriguing fixture are;- Referee - M. Oliver Assistant - S. Bennett Assistant - M. Scholes Fourth Official - P. Tierney
After having what amounts to an easy week, with Big Sam being cautious in training with regards to full physical contact, our squad should be raring to go. Throw into the mixer the fact that Reading are struggling, despite looking better than us when achieving promotion last season, and this is a fixture we should be looking at winning. As for the outcome, I`ll go for 2-0 to West Ham.
Next up in a busy festive period is a home fixture against Norwich City on New Years` Day, kick off is at 15:00 hours