Paddy Davitt’s prediction: Reading v Norwich City
09:20 10 November 2012
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You suspect Reading must attack this game with a ferocity borne of an already perilous Premier League position.
Chris Hughton’s men head to the Madejski with a five point buffer to the Royals; a swing that could be turned around in two games admittedly, but the differential even at this early stage illustrates City appear a more streetwise outfit in the unforgiving top flight.
Reading have led five times in the Premier League and are yet to secure a priceless win. Whatever else that signifies Brian McDermott is smart enough to realise self doubt must begin to creep into a squad who carried all before them in the Championship. For a group of players so used to winning, each passing winless week is a jolt to the system.
However Reading want to play it, Norwich should have the antidote. Bradley Johnson and Alex Tettey can mix it in that key midfield battleground. If Reading try to make it an expansive, attacking affair, City have plenty of flair, with Wes Hoolahan, Anthony Pilkington and Robert Snodgrass to pick out just three who will relish any space to probe for fresh weakness in a Reading backline set to be shorn of their impressive keeper Alex McCarthy. A shining light in the early gloom.
Expect few changes in personnel or system from the methodology which has triggered a sharp upturn in recent fortunes. Michael Turner and Javier Garrido have both been passed fit. Steven Whittaker has already underlined his importance to the cause. Reading will have targeted Norwich’s visit for that landmark win. Of that you can be sure.
City will have to withstand more on an onslaught than they faced at an anaemic Villa Park last time on the road. John Ruddy is likely to be pressed into more meaningful service than recent weeks. But Norwich have an excellent recent record at the Royals. Two defeats in six visits. It would be a major surprise not to see that trend continue.
• Reading 2, Norwich City 2