Following their narrow victory over West Ham on Wednesday night, Manchester United will be hoping to make it three successive victories as they make the trip to Reading’s Madejski Stadium. After Wednesday’s result, United currently sit at the head of the Premier League table (also 1st in the form guide as shown in the images above) with 33 points from 14 games losing just three times.
Reading meanwhile will be looking to return to winning ways after two staright defeats. They currently sit 19th in the Premier League table, with only winless QPR below them. The Royals have struggle on their return to the top flight with their only league win so far coming at home to Everton two weeks ago.
Reading have major doubts over the fitness of midfielder Jimmy Kebe who has struggled to return from a groin injury which has so far kept him out for three weeks. Also out are Jem Karacan with a knee injury and goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, who is out for the rest of the season after surgery on a shoulder injury. Midfielder Danny Guthrie is expected to have recovered from a thigh injury that has kept him out of action so far this month.
Manchester United will be without wingers Nani and Antonio Valencia for their trip to Berkshire. The Portuguese winger is out with a hamstring injury, which Sir Alex Ferguson reckons will rule him out for “four or five weeks.” Valencia misses the game against Reading but is expected to be fit in time for next weekend’s derby game against Manchester City. The Red Devils welcome back stalwarts Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs for this weekend’s game, returning from suspension and a hamstring injury respectively.
The last time these two sides met was at Old Trafford in January 2008 when the home side won 2-0 thanks to goals from Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. The sides have only faced each other four times in the league, with all four coming in the Premier League. Reading are yet to win a league game against the Red Devils, losing two and drawing two. In fact, the Berkshire club’s only win in all competitions against United was in an FA Cup third round match in 1927.
Adam Le Fondre is Reading’s top league goalscorer this year with three goals and is likely to be the home side’s main threat against Manchester United. The man affectionately known as ALF has yet to face United but has racked up 14 goals against opposition from the North West in all competitions. Despite two of his three Premier League goals coming from the penalty sport, his work in and around the box has endeared him to Royals fans.
Wayne Rooney is expected to start up front for Manchester United and will be looking to score against Reading for the second meeting in succession after netting the last time the two sides met in January 2008. The 27-year-old has six assists in the league so far this year, leaving him top of the charts alongside Chelsea’s Juan Mata.
On paper, many would expect Manchester United to coast this game but their notorious slow start to games this season could cost them. United have also only kept a clean sheet during three of their league games this season despite sitting at the top of the league. The Red Devils may not need to worry too much though as Reading have only scored 16 goals in their opening 13 games. The combined fire power of Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Perise should be enough to see United past a side that has only kept one clean sheet all season.
PREDICTION: Reading 0-2 Manchester United
Currently a sports journalism student at Staffordshire University. Previous articles have been printed in The Irish Post and the matchday programme for Ireland v Oman in Septemeber 2012.
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