Reading v Derby County preview: Royals host Rams in 2022 opener
Reading FC will be hoping to be back in action to host Derby County at Select Car Leasing Stadium on Monday 3 January.
The Royals were one of many teams that had a squad that was exhausted due to covid-19s and injuries, causing three consecutive games to be postponed in December.
Veljko Paunovic’s side were last in action on Saturday, December 11 when they lost 1-0 to West Brom, which put them just above the Championship drop zone in 21st place.
There are parallels to be drawn between the two teams who have both been sanctioned with point deductions this season.
Reading was hit with a six-point deduction, while Derby was severely penalized with two deductions seeing them drop 21 points in total, leaving them at the foot of the table.
Despite their problems off the field, the Rams have regained some form on the field with six wins, 10 draws and seven losses putting them down to seven points.
It will take a monumental effort from Wayne Rooney’s side to avoid the fall, with a 14-point gap separating them from the relegation zone and Reading in 21st.
They struggled to find the net with consistency and only scored 19 goals in 23 matches.
However, they have been formidable at the other end of the field and have one of the best defensive records in the division.
They conceded 21 goals, a record that is only improved by the league’s top two, Bournemouth and Fulham, and West Brom, fourth.
Derby have delivered inspired results this season with a spirited performance last month which saw them go goalless at Fulham following a magnificent 3-2 victory over league leaders Bournemouth.
They managed to rack up more misery on another team hoping for promotion on Monday, December 27 when they scored three points at home against West Brom, with Colin Kazim Richards’ goal proving decisive.
The last meeting between the teams saw Derby take the points with a 1-0 triumph earlier in the season as Craig Forsyth scored the only goal of the game.
The Royals were victorious on the Rams’ last visit to SCL with a 3-1 victory in April 2021 with goals from Michael Olise, George Puscas and Lucas Joao.