St Andrew’s is the venue as Birmingham City and Reading go head-to-head in Friday’s mid-table EFL Championship encounter.
John Eustace’s team returned to domestic action after a four-week break for the FIFA World Cup last weekend, but another poor performance cemented their place in the lower half of the Championship table.
Despite attempting a single shot on target at Bloomfield Road last time out, Birmingham held Blackpool to a tepid 0-0 draw, extending their underwhelming winless league run to three matches (D2, L1).
However, the Blues have established breathing space between themselves and the drop zone, stretching their lead on relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic.
More importantly, they can still dream of securing Premier League promotion for the first time since their fateful 2010/11 top-flight relegation season.
With five points separating them from the play-off spots, Birmingham will be looking to take Reading’s place in the standings and continue to fight their way into the promotion zone.
Eighth in the table, only two points adrift of sixth-placed Preston North End, the Royals returned to Championship action with a bang, claiming a morale-boosting 1-0 win against Coventry City last Saturday.
Inspired by back-to-back league victories in the lead-up to this trip to Birmingham, Paul Ince’s men finish this round in the play-off zone if results go their way.
St Andrew’s has not been a fortress Birmingham fans had hoped for at the start of the 2022/23 season, with the Blues only winning one of their last five home league outings (D3, L1).
Their hopes of revival are stretched, considering they’ve found themselves on the losing side in four of their last six home meetings with Reading in the Championship (W2).
Conceding first would further dampen the home side’s enthusiasm, as they’ve failed to win any of their four home league fixtures in which they fell behind this season (D1, L3).
After avoiding relegation to League One last season by the skin of their teeth, Reading have emerged as unlikely promotion candidates this term, though it has nothing to do with their away form.
Ince’s side recorded a 2-1 triumph at Hull City on their most recent league travel, halting a woeful run of five away games without winning in the Championship (D1, L4).
Scoring has been a genuine problem for the Royals on the road this season. They have managed a measly average of 0.72 goals per away league match thus far.
Birmingham vs Reading Potential Line-ups
Birmingham (3-5-2): John Ruddy; Dion Sanderson, Marc Roberts, Auston Trusty; Maxime Colin, Juninho Bacuna, Krystian Bielik, Hannibal Mejbri, Emmanuel Longelo; Troy Deeney, Tahith Chong.
Reading (3-5-2): Joe Lumley; Andy Yiadom, Tom McIntyre, Amadou Mbengue; Junior Hoilett, Tom Ince, Jeff Hendrick, Tyrese Fornah, Baba Rahman; Andy Carroll, Yakou Meite.
How to Watch?
You can watch Championship games live online, including Birmingham’s clash against Reading this Friday.
Birmingham vs Reading Prediction
Both sides have plenty of ground to cover on the play-off spots, and a draw wouldn’t benefit anyone, especially Birmingham.
Stripped off home comforts, Reading may settle for a share of the spoils, but their recent track record at St Andrew’s gives them legitimate hope of staking a victory claim.
We expect Ince’s team to defy the odds and take home three points.
Birmingham 1-2 Reading
- Manchester City agree personal terms with midfield target Mateo Kovacic
- Leicester City shortlist Steven Gerrard for vacant managerial role
- AC Milan join race to sign Marcus Thuram
- West Ham plan Declan Rice replacements as Arsenal step up interest
- Man Utd consider sending Mason Greenwood out on loan next season