Manchester United will be looking to consolidate their position at the top of the Barclay’s Premier League when they travel to the Madjeski stadium to take on struggling Reading. Kick-off: Saturday, 17:30.
Although they made a shaky start to the season, United ominously appear to be hitting their stride and have won five of their last six. Sir Alex Ferguson has regularly bemoaned the fact that his side have often let their opposition score first this season though it doesn’t have seemed to overly affected his charges as United sit pretty at the top of the table. At the beginning of the season, Fergie was adamant that a side under his tutelage would not lose another title on goal difference and the summer acquisition of Robin Van Persie looks to be paying diviidends in this regard. The Dutchman has seamlessly transitioned from London to Manchester and his nine league goals have helped ensure United sit top of the scoring charts with thirty three overall.
Reading have endured a torrid beginning to their top flight return and if it wasn’t for the utter abjectness of QPR’s start to the season, Brian McDermott’s side would be propping up the table. If Reading continue accumulating points at their current rate, they will only reach a paltry twenty seven by the end of the season. The omens for the Royals are not good and the visit of the leaders is hardly the tonic Reading would have wished for coming off the back of two defeats.
United’s injury crisis has eased slightly in recent weeks but they are still without five first team players including captain Nemanja Vidic whose knee injury will rule him out for at least another week. United’s offensive trio of Antonio Valencia, Nani and summer recruit Shinji Kagawa will also miss the trip to the Madjeski.
Reading also have injury concerns of their own ahead of Saturday evening’s showdown and will be without Jem Karacan, Danny Guthrie, Chris Gunter and Jimmy Kebe.
Ones to Watch
Joni McAnuff has tried to lead by example this season as Reading have struggled to come to terms with the step up in level, contributing four assists to his team’s cause. The Jamaican midfielder is vital for Reading’s hopes of survival and his ability to consistently contribute at a high level is indispensable for Brian McDermott’s struggling side.
Robin Van Persie continued his prolific start to the season by scoring against West Ham on Wednesday and will be trying to reach double figures for the season on Saturday. For a player who was notoriously injury plagued in the early stages of his career, Van Persie has been remarkably durable for the best part of twenty months. His fitness record at United appears to be continuing in the same vein as his last season and a half with Arsenal and Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping the striker’s injury troubles are a thing of the past.
Even though United are missing some key personnel, they should have more than enough to dispatch a Reading side still with only a solitary win to show for their efforts this season. As previously mentioned, United have often fallen behind this season only to roar back to victory and there is a distinct possibility of such a result on Saturday. Even if Fergie’s men fall behind, their mentality and class will surely get them over the line.