The fact that the Premier League has never seen these two outfits pitted against each other is certainly surprising, as is the fact that both are managed by coaches who have both never managed at this level prior to this year. Nevertheless, despite his inexperience, West Brom’s Steve Clarke has certainly started his top flight career very well as the Baggies approach this game sat in 6th place. It would be fair to say that Brian McDermott has experienced a slightly more torrid time, with his Royals currently placed in 19th spot.
After West Brom were forced to allow Roy Hodgson to leave during the summer, a lot of people thought that the Baggies might drop into free-fall without the veteran’s input. However, once again it looks like the club’s board have pulled a magical appointment out of the hat, with former Chelsea assistant Steve Clarke working wonders in the opening four games. The Baggies have accumulated a total of seven points, following victories over Liverpool and Everton, and a 1-1 draw at Tottenham. Considering the stature of those appointments, such a return is certainly impressive but it remains to be seen how the club respond to their latest result, which was a comprehensive 3-0 defeat to Fulham. Admittedly, they were reduced to ten men in that game, but this could be a real test of Clarke’s managerial talents.
Reading meanwhile have really struggled to get to grips with the pace of the Premiership. The Royals have managed to accumulate just one point, although they have played one less game than most other outfits in the division. However, their sole point of the campaign came on the opening day and since then they have suffered defeats to both Chelsea and Tottenham. Admittedly, they were not expected to fare well against such strong opponents, yet their supporters must already be getting worried that the club is set to embark on a long, hard battle to stay in the division.
As for team news, Peter Odemwingie is the main absentee for West Brom as the striker starts a suspension following his red card last week. Goran Popov is another player who will miss out as a groin injury hinders him, although there is at least good news in relation to Steven Reid who returns to the reckoning after a hamstring injury. The visitors on the other hand are likely to keep Alex McCarthy between the sticks, as first choice Adam Federici continues to struggle on the treatment table. In other news, Jimmy Kebe is unlikely to feature as he struggles for match fitness.
In terms of a prediction, we think the home side will wrap up the points in this one. West Brom are quite a solid outfit and with Reading clearly struggling, our tip will be a comfortable 2-0 victory for Steve Clarke’s side.