But with our own scoring problems, it's surely their defence that will give us the most problems, not only because they've yet to concede in the fizzies but also they are the ones getting the goals with the Senegal 6' 3" centre-back Ibrahima Sonko getting the two that sunk Plymouth last weekend. Both were headers from Stephen Hunt crosses.
Have We Got Any Chance?
OK, they were unbeaten in their pre-season and after three competitive games they still are. A draw at Notts Forest, a win at Dagenham in the Cup and a win over Plymouth last weekend. But, in fact, if you've looking for any signs of a weakness, they have failed to score in 7 of their last nine competitive games, admittedly most of them in the Premiership, with only the 4-0 away win at Derby on the last day of the Premier season and that 2-0 home win over Plymouth as proof that they know where the net is.
History in the League is short with only 30 games played and we're losing so far with 9 wins, 12 defeats and 9 draws. At home its a bit better with 7 wins, 4 defeats and 4 draws. We have won 3 of the 4 most recent games at the Valley and you have to go back to the game before that in October 1994 for the last time that Reading have won at the Valley, the score 2-1. That season Reading finished 2nd but because of the reduction in the Premiership from 22 to 20 only the Champions of Tier Two were promoted. Tough luck on Reading as they lost in the Play-Off Final to Bolton.
As for the Addicks
After last seasons excesses when we had 4 left-backs, we now, if we believe the official site, have none available, with Youga suspended and hamstring (!) injury worries over Basey. Fortune was patched up last weekend and finished the 90 minutes so it remains to be seen if Basey is in the same boat. However, Semedo has filled in there before so we could see Moutaouakil making his first fizzy start of the season at right-back with Semedo on the left. No bad thing to have Moot2 back but he'll have to concentrate as Stephen Hunt is obviously the key to Reading's attacks. Lets hope that travelling to Norway for their friendly on Wednesday is leaving him and Kevin Doyle a bit knackered, as they both played the last 30 minutes(ish).
As for the midfield , they'll be a home debut for Nicky Bailey and then Pardew has to decide who's going to partner him in his habitual 4-4-2. And just as we appeared to have received a bonus with the form of Racon on his return from Brighton, another injury problem hit us after 58 minutes against Watford on Saturday with a broken fifth metatarsal ( ie, the bone on the outside of the foot) and he's out till November. All rather sad as, fresh from his inclusion in the Fizzy team of the week after the Swans game, the unfortunate injury comes as Racon was enjoying his best spell at the Valley.
There's still no real news on the return of ZiZi from China and Pards obviously won't broadcast the fact that he's back but clearly with two goalless games behind us and only two set-piece goals to show from 3 games played we do need to look at our attacking options. Playing ZiZi in the hole behind the front two could be an option but with deals pending and an unsettled player to boot, Pards has stated that he won't be considering him. So with Semedo and Racon unable to make the midfield, its possible that Pards will try Jonjo again and see how he makes out with Bailey beside him, but with our improved performance in the second half at Watford with Matty Holland next to Bailey we could see Pards starting with these two hard-working players. Problem being that we'll need a little more than hard work to get something out of a Reading team that look headed back to the top flight.
With another two of our attacking options, Ambrose and Todorov, completing an hour in the Reserves on Wednesday, it remains to be seen whether or not Pards will include them tomorrow. Its possible that Ambrose ( last seasons second highest scorer along with ZiZi, both with 9 goals ) will make the bench but expect Sam and Bouazza to be the wide men with Varney and Gray still learning how to dovetail together seamlessly.
At least, unlike Vita and Doyle, they haven't gone 41 games between them in the stripes of Reading with only 2 goals to show for it. In fact it's a bit close with Gray on 3 from 12 games ( plus 6 sub appearances) since joining and Varney on 5 in his 12 games since Christmas which is, I suppose, approaching 1 goal every other game. But as a partnership is still doesn't seem to work and of the 8 times they have started together, they've only managed 4 goals between them.
So a team of:
Weaver; Semedo, Hudson, Fortune, Basey; Sam, Bailey, Holland, Bouazza; Gray and Varney.
Subs: Elliot, Moutaouakil, Shelvey, Ambrose, Dickson.
Assistant Manager Phil Parkinson will also enjoy facing his old club after playing 361 times for the Royals.
Verdict: Back in July only 6 out of 37 CAFCPicks punters forecast the game as a win, with 12 seeing a defeat and 19 hoping for a draw. Since then I haven't changed my mind and with an unbeaten defence at Reading and Pards only having managed one goal at home in three attempts against his old club since leaving, its looks like being a low scoring game with the Addicks on the end of another 0-1 defeat.