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Manchester City vs Reading: Match preview

Shreyas Pai
731   //    21 Dec 2012, 22:52 IST

Stadium: Etihad Stadium

Referee: Mike Dean

Kick-off: 8:30 PM (IST), Saturday, 22nd of December

Manchester City v Reading - FA Cup 6th Round

This fixture appears almost to be a present to Roberto Mancini on the completion of three years in charge at the Etihad, although his team have turned some easy games into tricky ones already this season. A fine win at the Sports Direct Arena last weekend saw City bounce back well from their derby loss, and remain just 6 points off the top of the table. Reading, meanwhile, played out another high-scoring, and entertaining affair with Arsenal, only to lose again, for the 6th straight fixture. They now find themselves at the bottom of the table, having been leapfrogged by QPR, and are 6 points adrift of relegation safety.

Manchester City: W D L L W

After two massive disappointments in a week, Manchester City appeared to have pulled themselves together well when they played against Newcastle last weekend, and recorded a good win. They have now scored five in their last two fixtures, and against much better defences than the one Reading deploys. Thus, scoring will not be a concern for Mancini’s men, who will instead worry about conceding goals. They do have the second best defensive record in the league, with just 15 goals conceded, but have not kept a clean sheet for their last four games, conceding a total of 6 goals, and with club captain Vincent Kompany still recovering from injury, look far from impenetrable at the back. Whether the attack that Reading possess is sufficient to trouble them, though, is an altogether different issue.

Reading: L L L L L

Sunderland v Reading - Premier League

In spite of searching hard and long, there is little good to write home about Reading this season, except perhaps for that attacking performance against Manchester United, and that they managed to score twice against Arsenal last weekend. These have been trying times for the Royals’ fans, and one wouldn’t be surprised if Brian McDermott were to receive the pink slip as a Christmas present. For the moment though, he seems confident that he has the owners’ support, and can choose to focus on the tactics he deploys on the visit to Manchester. With 12 goals conceded in the last four matches, however, Reading shall need a huge helping of luck if they are to leave with anything more than yet another embarrassing scoreline.

Injuries, Concerns & Suspensions

Manchester City: Micah Richards, Jack Rodwell, Mario Balotelli, Vincent Kompany, Samir Nasri, Aleksandar Kolarov, James Milner.

Reading: Alex McCarthy, Sean Morrison, Jason Roberts, Jem Karacan.

Key Clashes

Yaya Toure vs Adrian Mariappa

Newcastle United v Manchester City - Premier League

With a promotion up the pitch to play as an attacking midfielder, Yaya Toure made the most of his opportunity last weekend, grabbing his second goal in as many games. A similarly stellar performance from Javi Garcia should see him keep his place in the team, allowing Toure to drive forward more often, and influence attack much more than he has thus far in the opening half of the season. Adrian Mariappa has been the one constant presence in central defence for Reading over the previous few weeks, as McDermott has paired him with either Gorks or Pearce, and will hope to do more to cement a place in the team.

Pavel Pogrebnyak vs Kolo Toure

Last weekend, the one goal that Manchester City conceded was off a header by Demba Ba. Thus, with Kompany likely to sit out, it will be an aerial advantage for Pogrebnyak if Toure plays. However, the Russian striker has done little thus far to justify his move from Fulham, with only 2 goals in 12 appearances, both with his feet. So if Lescott manages to make it into the starting lineup ahead of Toure, Reading may have their one slight advantage wiped away as well.

What to expect

The obvious; a win for the reigning champions. Not only are Reading in a miserable run, they are also playing at the Etihad, where the last game played saw Robin van Persie snatch victory for fierce rivals Manchester United. The sky blues will thus be eager to soothe their fans with a convincing win, and at the moment, there’s no better team for them to be facing than Reading.

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Shreyas Pai
A free bird that wishes he were a little Red boot on Giggsy's left foot.
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