Only five points separate Wolves and Reading heading into a tight Boxing Day contest at the Molineux with both sides seemingly moving in opposite directions.
The home side are currently positioned seventeenth in the Championship and run the risk of being pushed dangerously close to the relegation zone should they fail to take all three points. Reading are currently eleventh in the league and could go within touching distance of a playoff place should they win, being four points outside the top six as things stand.
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The home advantage makes Wolves very slight favourites, but the contest is unpredictable and truly anyone’s for the taking. A Reading loss could potentially see them overtaken by QPR, Leeds, Blackburn or Nottingham Forest.
Wolves’ home form in the Championship has been uninspiring throughout December and has generally been very poor so far this season, with only two home victories in eleven games. Boss Kenny Jackett has attributed his team’s poor run of form to subpar defending. The manager is set to bring in reinforcements in January, but heads into Boxing Day having to make do without Nouha Dicko and Kortney Hause due to injury. These absences are somewhat balanced by the probable return of Dave Edwards.
Benik Afobe looks set to be the focal point of the home side’s attack, and the team’s top scorer hopes to increase his current tally of nine goals.
Afobe needs to work well with attacking midfield threat Jordan Graham in order to give Wolves a chance.
Reading are set to have a full squad available to select from on Boxing Day. Boss Brian McDermott has urged his side to put the fortunes of the team ahead of their own pride and ego.
Danny Williams’ lone goal was able to give his team the win against Blackburn recently, but a greater contribution from Orlando Sa will be needed if the visitors are to keep faint playoff hopes alive heading into 2016. Sa looks set to start as a lone striker against Wolves with the more impressive Nick Blackman sitting behind him in an attacking midfield role.
A clear winner is hard to predict, as Reading have put together a string of five consecutive Championship away losses, while Wolves have failed to win at home for six Championship matches on the trot.
The visiting manager’s hopes will be bolstered by the fact that the Royals have four consecutive away wins against Wolves across all competitions.
Whether Reading are able to make it five in a row depends upon whether the team can rally round McDermott’s call for unity and a strong team focus, and they have a strong case for victory with the pressure mounting on Wolves boss Jackett.
It should be an interesting contest, and we look set for a lively evening kickoff in the Championship on boxing day.