|Reading 2 v 2 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 10th November 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Lambert: Tough Game But We'll Go to Reading to Try to Win
Thursday, 8th Nov 2018 19:55
Bottom-of-the-table Town visit Reading on Saturday looking for a first win under new manager Paul Lambert which will close the gap to the sides immediately above them. The Blues go into the match five points behind the three sides ahead of them in the table, who include the Royals in 22nd.
Asked whether Saturday’s match is one which the Blues have to win or at worst take a point from, Lambert said: “Every game you’ll be asking me that from now on and I’ll say exactly the same, we have to win, we have to try and win.
“Sometimes even if you play well you don’t win, you play bad you can win games, but one thing for sure, they’ll be ready for the game.”
He says he’s seen the Royals in action and knows their manager: “I’ve watched some games of them. I know Paul Clement really well, he’s a really good guy and I’m looking forward to seeing him on Saturday.
“It’ll be a tough game but I won’t change, I’ll go there and try and win. We’re going to have a good support there ourselves and I’ll go and try and win, I won’t sit off. I won’t change, we’ll go and try and win.”
Lambert lined his side up in a 4-3-3 formation last week and the Blues may well start the same way at the Madejski Stadium.
“There won’t be too many systems or change because I think you confuse people every time you change, change, change,” he said.
“There are a few systems I work to, the lads know that, I’ve told them and everything I’ve asked them to work on in this last week or so they’ve been great.
“And it’s like anything new to them, they’ve had to learn little things, you try and position them into certain positions but I think they’re enjoying their football at the minute and we’re playing well enough to win games.”
Lambert will probably field a team essentially along the lines of the one which drew 1-1 with Preston in his first game in charge last week.
Bartosz Bialkowski will be in goal with Jonas Knudsen and Jordan Spence again likely to be the full-backs and skipper Luke Chambers and Matthew Pennington the centre-halves.
Cole Skuse will again probably sit behind Trevoh Chalobah and Flynn Downes in midfield with Freddie Sears likely to be on the left and Gwion Edwards on the right with Jordan Roberts the central striker.
Reading boss Clement could call 18-year-old academy striker Danny Loader into his squad after impressing in the U23s and with one-time Town loan target Jon Dadi Bodvarsson ruled out for six weeks having broken a bone in his back with and another frontman, Yakou Meite, a big doubt due to an ankle injury.
Saeid Ezatolahi (quad), Jordan Obita, Dave Edwards (both knee), Anssi Jaakkola (muscle strain), Omar Richards (hip/groin), Pelle Clement, Adrian Popa and Vito Mannone (all ankle) are currently sidelined.
Despite the Blues’ lowly position, Reading boss Clement, under-fire from fans after their difficult start to the season, is not expecting an easy afternoon, particularly with Lambert having had a further week in which to work with his new squad.
“For me, this is a complicated game – a difficult game,” Clement told the Royals official site. “Of course whether we play the team at the top or bottom of the table, all of the games are very difficult.
“And I think Ipswich will come with a lot of motivation. They don’t want to be bottom – they want to try and close the gap on the teams above them, one of which is us.
“They have a new manager – a manager with a lot of experience in this division and the league above, as well as European football and he was a really good player.
“He will be working his players really hard and he’ll have had another week to instil some of his ideas of how he wants his team to play.
“We would be very naïve to expect an easy game. In fact, I’m expecting the opposite – maybe our hardest game of the season.
“Often when a manager comes in, there’s the ‘manager bounce’ – that immediate impact on performances and results. He got a draw in his first game – it can be a dangerous time to play against a team when they’ve got a new manager.”
Clement wants his team to go into the international break on the back of what would be a second successive win, the Royals having defeated Bristol City 3-2 at home last Saturday.
“Last weekend we got a good result and it came at a very important time,” he added. “Now all of the focus is on backing that up with another win going into the international break. So it’s an important game.
“We haven’t had many wins this season [four in the league]. The pressure had built a lot for the last game because we’d lost two games on the road.
“We’re desperate to get ourselves up the table, and we have a fantastic opportunity this weekend to get a good, positive result.
“If we do, I think we’ll climb out of the relegation zone and it’ll be a good moment to do that because we don’t play for another two weeks.
“Everyone likes to have a good performance going into the international break. All of our efforts will be going into trying to get that performance, getting that result, getting back-to-back wins, getting out of the relegation zone.”
Clement admits he hasn't forgotten his side's 4-0 drubbing by the Blues at the end of last season.
"I'm still having nightmares from that fixture, it was incredible," he said.
Town have just about had the better of the Royals historically, winning 26 times (25 in the league), drawing 10 (10) and losing 23 (23).
At the Madejski Stadium in April the Blues scored four times in the final 19 minutes - including two in stoppage time - to record an emphatic 4-0 victory in their final away game of last season.
Martyn Waghorn put the Blues, who had caretaker-manager Bryan Klug in charge, ahead on 71 and Jordan Spence made it 2-0 eight minutes later, before sub Freddie Sears, ending his 38-game goal drought, and Callum Connolly added the third and fourth in injury time.
At Portman Road last December, first-half goals from Connolly and Joe Garner saw Town to what in the end was a comfortable 2-0 victory over Reading at Portman Road.
Connolly’s low shot gave the Blues the lead in the third minute, then Garner headed the second on 27.
Reading midfielder John Swift had a trial with Town in November 2014 when a Chelsea player.
Like Swift, Dutch midfielder Van den Berg, who is on loan back home with NEC Nijmegen, similarly spent time on trial with the Blues, in September 2006 following his release by Heerenveen.
Reading's former Colchester United keeper Sam Walker is lifelong Town fan who was a season ticket-holder when a youngster.
Saturday’s referee is Darren Bond from Lancashire, who has shown 40 yellow cards and two red in 14 games so far this season.
Bond’s last Town game was the 1-1 home draw with Brentford in September in which he booked Knudsen and two Bees.
He was also in charge of the 4-2 home victory over Nottingham Forest in December last year in which he booked Callum Connolly, Martyn Waghorn and two visiting players.
Prior to that he refereed the 2-1 defeat at Birmingham in December 2016 in which he booked Blues skipper Chambers and Christophe Berra.
Before that he took control of the 2-2 home draw with Rotherham a couple of months earlier in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.
He was also the man in the middle for the 0-0 draw at Middlesbrough in April of the same year in which he cautioned Luke Hyam and former Blues skipper Grant Leadbitter.
He also officiated in the 1-0 win at Huddersfield three months earlier in which he yellow-carded Chambers, Brett Pitman and Ainsley Maitland-Niles as well as one home player.
He also refereed the dramatic last-gasp 1-0 victory at Charlton in November 2014 in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.
Two months before that he took control of the 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday when he booked only two home players, while his only other match involving the Blues was the 2-2 draw at Barnsley in February of the same year in which he again showed no cards.
Squad from: Bialkowski, Gerken, Donacien, Spence, Knudsen, Chambers (c), Pennington, Nsiala, Skuse, Chalobah, Downes, Dozzell, Edun, Edwards, Ward, Rowe, Graham, Roberts, Sears, Jackson, Lankester.
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