Newcastle are struggling to get all of their new signings together. On paper they have the best squad in the league by far, but results are not reflecting that. Home form must be strong, but 52,000 crowd was disappointed on Saturday. Must improve against a tidy passing team like Reading. Key is scoring the first goal as this would settle the nerves and tension around the stadium and the players. Rafa Benitez admits that he is still looking for his strongest eleven and is expected to make some changes to his starting line-up. It was hoped that Sissoko would be involved, despite the fact he clearly wants to leave the club. However he has supposedly suffered a knock in training, meaning he is unavailable. Ritchie didn’t start the Huddersfield game as he didn’t train too much in the few days before. He came on at half time and was easily their best player. He is highly likely to start this game, with Anita dropping back into his preferred central midfielder role. This would see Hayden drop to the bench. Dummett is another who is really struggling for form. Gamez is an experienced alternative and may replace him, even though he is much more comfortable as a right back. Recent signing Diame picked up an ankle injury in the Huddersfield match. Newcastle have a large squad but he will be a big miss. Perez will come back into the side, despite the fact he isn’t in the best of form. He started the opening day defeat to Fulham. Mitrovic continues to serve a ban. Tiote shouldn’t be involved as he looks set to leave the club. Several others are also out of favour and won’t be any part once again, such as Gouffran and Saivet. Krul is nearing a return but won’t play for a good few weeks yet. They be happy to record any kind of victory. Scoring an early goal would ease any nerves. They would push to achieve a bigger margin of victory otherwise. If not, they would settle for any win with a clean sheet. They will believe this is possible against Reading.
Reading produced a disappointing performance away to Wolves on Saturday and they’ll be aiming for major improvement away to an out of sorts Newcastle United. Jaap Stam is still without young striker Samuel but there is excellent news regarding two others. Mendes and Quinn come back into the squad after resuming training. Neither are likely to be risked from the start however. Even if Stam wanted to make changes to his team, he doesn’t have too many alternatives based on the bench he picked at Wolves. It was mostly full of youngsters, however he should bring one experienced player into the team. Harriott has plenty of pace and could be a big asset on the counter attack, he should replace McCleary. Meite is another option but he is short on match fitness. Reading will be happy to come away with a draw from this match. They won’t necessarily play a defensive minded game to achieve this however. Stam wants his teams to take risks and take the game to opponents. Newcastle are under pressure and they could make mistakes, suiting Reading.
Verdict & Prediction
Nobody expected Newcastle to lose their first two matches, especially those in and around the club. They haven’t shrugged off the losing mentality gained from last season. Until they achieve that win, there will be big concerns. Reading is a very realistic opportunity to record their first victory.
Prediction: Newcastle -0.75 AH
Odds: 1.92 Dafabet