Bournemouth welcome Reading to the Vitality Stadium in a top of Sky Bet Championship clash.
Victory would see Bournemouth climb to the Championship summit before Watford and Norwich play on Saturday afternoon, whereas Reading can end a three match losing run with a win to keep themselves top for another round.
Lewis Cook could feature for Bournemouth despite needing stitches to heal a shin injury suffered during their win at Birmingham just before the international break.
Steve Cook (suspension) and Joshua King (Coronavirus) are meanwhile both sidelined.
Reading could welcome Yakou Meite back from an unspecified injury which had sidelined the Ivory Coast international for their last three matches, of which the Royals suffered defeat in each of those games.
Liam Moore (foot) and Ovie Ejaria (muscle) could also return but Tom Holmes and John Swift aren’t expected to return from hamstring injuries until December.
Felipe Araruna remains sidelined until early 2021 with a knee injury suffered at Cardiff in September.
- Bournemouth are unbeaten in their last seven meetings against Reading (W5, D2), with four of those wins coming in the rebranded Championship tier.
- Reading have won just one of their last five trips to Bournemouth (W1, L4).
- There have been no draw in the last eight meetings at this ground between Bournemouth and Reading since a 1-1 draw in Autoglass Trophy in January 1993.
- Each of Bournemouth’s last two home goals have both come in 81st minute from Arnaut Danjuma and Rodrigo Riquelme respectively.
- Lucas Joao has scored in four of Reading’s five away league trips this season, with just one of his four goals coming before half-time.
Having previously used a back three for much of this season so far before converting to a four-man defence for their victory at Birmingham at last time out, I am excited to see how Bournemouth choose to line up because they are a strong unit with Premier League quality within their attack which needs to click soon if they want to seriously push for automatic promotion.
Reading on the other hand will be relieved to have Meite and Ejaria back in terms of creativity and goals after completely crashing in terms of spark during their absence with three consecutive defeats in which three goals were conceded, so their priority will be to shore up their defence against this Bournemouth team whilst rediscovering their initial quality from earlier this season.
Add in the fact that this is an early top of table clash ahead of a chaotic run of 11 fixtures in six weeks then victory is absolutely crucial and based on current form, I am backing Bournemouth to edge it, even if they didn’t exactly return from October’s international break with all cylinders ablaze.
Prediction: Bournemouth 2-1 Reading
Result: Bournemouth 4-2 Reading