Well, well, well… Saturday was a bit of a shock wasn’t it? Anyone who read my preview certainly can appreciate that I wasn’t hugely expectant coming into the game at Deepdale to say the least! Maximum credit to the side however, going ahead twice and conceding twice in the current run of form we’re in certainly isn’t the situation I would’ve imagined would lead to our first victory in the league this year. It was our day however and we finally broke our terrible run of form with Paul Clement picking up his first away win in charge. Is this the victory that we need to ignite our season and push on? Well, look at QPR. After the results against West Brom and Bristol City they looked down and out. Fans were calling for Mclaren’s head, players weren’t performing – some could say it was similar to the situation we’ve been in this year just with more dramatic defeats. One win quickly led to another and next thing you know, talks of managers leaving are a distant memory. The victory against Preston really could be just the stepping stone we need to push up the table and pick up some points at home and away from the Madejski. Here’s hoping.
What about Norwich however? Well, inconsistency has certainly been a key theme of their campaign the season. On the face of it. picking up a victory against Middlesbrough on the weekend seems to suggest that they’re a team who should be challenging up the top of the table. However, they find themselves in 17th position. They’ve won this year against Premiership Cardiff City in the cup away from home, West Brom away from home and Middlesbrough at home. All of these results are difficult ones to pick up ad suggest Norwich could be a real threat. They have however drawn against Birmingham and Ipswich who certainly would be sides with all due respect that promotion challengers would see as winnable games. Whenever they seem to get a good victory, a disappointing result follows. So, do expect Reading to break this curse tonight. That’s just what we do, isn’t it?
There is a lot of quality throughout the Norwich side. Since their spells in the Premier League, they’ve maintained a quality that a lot of Championship sides would be envious of. However injuries are plaguing the Canaries and they will be without a number of first team starters tonight. Ben Marshall, Marco Stiepermann, Ivo Pinto and Onel Hernandez have been ruled out with Hernandez being arguably the biggest loss for Daniel Farke’s men. Hernandez has been directly involved in five goals so far this year – with two goals and three assists and is a real handful going forward. However, when you have Jordan Rhodes waiting in the wings to partner Pukki up top – they have a good amount of quality available going forward. Expect to see Mario Vranic coming in for Stiepermann given the fact they’re very similar players. Elsewhere they have a lot of experienced talent amongst the squad including Tim Krul in goal, defensive stalwart Tim Klose, midfield engine Alex Tettey and exciting young talents such as German U21 full back Felix Passlack and Ben Godfrey. Norwich certainly have enough quality to have a very solid campaign this year.
In charge they have German Daniel Farke. Having spent time in charge of the Borussia Dortmund second team the Norwich role is technically his first in management. I’d love to sit here and write an extensive thesis documenting the highs and lows of Norwich’s season last year but if one word could sum it up it’d be uneventful. Finishing in 14th Norwich amassed 15 victories, 15 draws and 16 defeats last year with a -11 goal difference. To suggest Norwich didn’t set the league on fire last year would be an understatement. Farke will certainly be wishing for more consistency and more excitement this year but their start suggests it could be another average season should they continue at their current rate. Would Farke survive until May with another season like last years? With the short term nature of football management nowadays, I doubt it.
Predictions time. Having backed a hefty Reading defeat against Preston and a victory against Bolton earlier this season, it is safe to say whatever I call here will probably be wrong. I’m going to perch firmly on the fence ahead of this game and go for a run of the mill 1-1 draw. So feel free to go ahead and back a victory either way folks.