After a huge, but unexpected, victory against then-league-leaders West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday evening, Cardiff City welcome Reading for the second clash between the two sides in seven days.
Cardiff City v Reading
Friday 31st January, 7.45pm
Cardiff City Stadium
Three things to watch out for
Paterson up top: Both Callum Paterson and Lee Tomlin have made themselves indispensable to Neil Harris in recent weeks and I’d be hugely shocked if both didn’t start. The question is whether Harris sticks with Robert Glatzel up top despite his struggles and puts Paterson out on the right, or sticks Paterson up top where he has looked so effective.
Will Vaulks to continue his good form: When City were thrashed away at Reading earlier on in the season, Will Vaulks was the main scapegoat. He’s since earned his place in the side under Neil Harris and banished any memory of that performance with a stormer away at Reading in the FA Cup and again in midweek against West Brom. Expect him to build on that at home.
Ntazana Mayembe to feature?: There are high hopes for Ntazana Mayembe, that’s for sure. There’s a buzz around him and he’s been liked to a move to the Premier League. He was on the bench against West Brom and there’s a feeling he’ll get minutes soon. Will Friday be too soon? Possibly, but expect to see a bit of him in one of these two games against Reading.
Players to watch out for
Cardiff know all about the quality Reading possess. The Royals may not be on the best run of form – they lost midweek to Bristol City – but they possess dangerous players. The double act of Ovie Ejaria and George Puscas may cause City problems in an area the Bluebirds are often exposed. Marlon Pack doesn’t offer the same protection that Aron Gunnarsson did, so there’s often a bit of space between the lines. Expect Ejaria to exploit that.
Best case scenario
City build on their impressive victory against West Brom in midweek. With the next seven games against teams in the bottom half, City have the chance to put a run together and make a late charge towards the playoffs. If they’re to do that, it has to start with a win here.
Worst case scenario
A repeat of the disaster earlier on in the season? City have had two proper horror shows this season – against Reading and QPR – and the players won’t want to be reminded of that performance against Reading.