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Watford Preview: Tough Match Ahead Of Cup Replay

13 March 2015
By Hob Nob Anyone?

It's a busy weekend for the Royals as they prepare for Monday nights's FA Cup quarter final replay with Bradford City with a league trip to Watford on Saturday. Reading have already had a very busy schedule and are now faced with two games in three days as they attempt to reach the semi-finals and a date with Arsenal at Wembley Stadium. The FA Cup replay kicks-off at 7:45pm on Monday 16 March, at the Madejski Stadium, and tickets are sold out.

Before that huge fixture, Reading will be hoping to pick up another league point at Vicarage Road and make sure of mid-table finish well before the end of the season. After Tuesday night's 2-1 home victory over Brighton, the Royals have pulled 13 points clear of the bottom three and are set to secure another season of Championship football. It feels like Reading might be emerging from a bad run at just the right time - but a visit to Watford would cause most Championship teams to run into the buffers.

Watford are certain to cause Reading plenty of trouble. The Hornets are effectively joint top of the Championship. Bournemouth, Derby County, Watford and Middlesbrough are in the top four places but all have 66 points - a huge 22 more than the Royals. Out of their last 11 games, Watford have won 8 times and lost just twice. That run has included big wins over Blackpool (7-2) and Charlton (5-0) in January. More recently Watford have picked up 10 points from their last 12 games, with their last home game being a 1-0 victory over Fulham. Add into that Watford's home advantage and the fact that Reading's Tuesday night win was our first win in five attempts and it's not difficult to see why a home win is the most likely outcome.

It a different starting eleven every game at the moment as Steve Clarke tries to get the most out of his squad as the games come thick and fast. This game will be no different with more changes almost certain. It will be interesting to see if Clarke makes use of Jamie Mackie up front again. Mackie is the only player to score for Reading in the last seven games. Reading have found the net just four times and all of them have Mackie's name against them. Mackie was superb on Tuesday night and it will be difficult for Clarke to rest him even if he does need him for Monday night. With Simon Cox being an unused substitute for the last two games, Clarke might give him a chance to prove himself and make a claim for a starting place recall.

Earlier this week Reading signed free agent central defender Zat Knight on a short term contract and he may be used this weekend as Alex Pearce recovers from his broken nose sustained at Bradford City. Another player back in contention is midfielder Jem Karacan who has made another recovery from his most recent injury. Karacan has had a lot of bad luck with injuries but is back in full training and could well be involved even if just from the subs bench. Watford have a few injury doubts including to Almen Abdi who has been struggling with a hamstring injury. Defender Tommie Hoban is suspended.

Earlier this season Reading were beaten 0-1 by Watford at the Madejski Stadium. Last season we won 1-0 at Watford with the only goal coming from Kaspars Gorkss after just five minutes. Our recent record against Watford isn't too bad with Reading winning 9 and Watford winning 7 out of the last 26 games. The most frequent result is a draw and Reading would certainly be pleased if they can manage that this weekend.

Reading and Watford - Head to head record (since August 1994)
Games Between Reading and Watford 26
Reading Wins 9
Watford Wins 7
Draws 10
Reading Goals 33
Watford Goals 29
Average Goals Per Game 2.38

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