This next FA Cup tie features two sides in very similar positions. Both were playing Premier League football not too long ago, while both have opted for a change in manager over recent months to try and revive their top flight ambitions. However, with the two sides having little left to play for from a league perspective, the cup may come as a welcome distraction.
With ten points separating Cardiff from the playoff picture, it would take an extremely unlikely set of results for the Bluebirds to be involved in the top six come the end of the season. Instead, Russell Slade is surely preparing for next term – which will be his first full one in charge. He’ll also want to ensure that the club can improve their recent form, which has been poor to say the least. While they have managed two victories this month, one came against Colchester which perhaps distorts the situation that Cardiff find themselves in. The fact that they have just one league win in their last eight games spells out the much bigger picture – and suggests that a victory this weekend might just relieve a bit of pressure from Slade’s shoulders, if nothing else.
Reading have also endured a campaign to forget, although the Royals’ situation is much more precarious to that of their opponents. Steve Clarke’s side are now positioned in 18th and while seven points keep them from the bottom three, it’s still a margin which could be quashed with a couple of disappointing results. Unfortunately, disappointing results have been all-too common this term, with the Madejski Stadium outfit winning just two of their last ten games in the league. As such, they are another team who desperately need a win – just for confidence reasons.
If we look towards team news, Cardiff are unlikely to risk Scott Malone who is still struggling with an ankle problem. This was going to mean that John Brayford was going to continue at full-back, although with the defender poised for an imminent switch to Sheffield United it remains to be seen if that occurs. Reading meanwhile look set to be without two faces in the form of Anton Ferdinand and Hope Akpan. However, there could be places for Nathaniel Chalobah and Jure Travner who are pushing for starts.
The last time these two sides met was in November, with Cardiff edging that one out in 2-1 fashion. However, a lot has changed since then, with both teams embarking on absolutely dismal runs that have sent their campaigns into disaster-zone. Bearing this in mind, it’s difficult to separate the two teams although with Cardiff holding the home advantage, we get a sneaky feeling they might just take the spoils again with a slender 1-0 scoreline.