When : Saturday 7th January 2022, 12.30pm
Where : Madejski Stadium, Reading, RG2 0FL
Capacity : 24,161
FA Cup time again and this time Reading have been pitted against Watford in an early kick off for international, but not UK, TV broadcast for some strange reason - Elton must be touring abroad somewhere.
As it's the FA Cup we can all be fairly confident that what will actually be masquerading as Reading and Watford first teams on Saturday won't bear too much likeness to the teams when the clubs played in the league at Vicarage Road in November so I'd expect changes for both teams. Consequently this game could go any which way but loose as previous from will be utterly irrelevant (probably not a bad thing for Watford given their 2 wins in the last 6).
Looking at the league cup games for both sides this season, as that will possibly be a bit more revealing about what to expect, fans of both could be in for a real dreadful afternoon in terms of quality as both sides crashed out at home to lower league opposition in the first round, though Reading did at least score a goal.
For Watford the team for their 2-0 loss to MK Dons was Okoye, Pollock, Troost-Ekong, Cathcart, Gaspar, Kayembe, Hungbo, Asprilla, Gosling, Bayo, Manaj so I'd be expecting something along that sort of line though both Kayembe and Gosling are currently injured which probably means a start for free agent signing Leandro Bacuna as he grows into his Watford career.
Reading's team for the Stevenage embarrassment was Bouzanis, Guinness, Abrefa, Holmes, J Clarke, Holzman, Fornah, Loum, Leavy, Tuma, Ehibhatiomhan. Currently Fornah and Clarke are injured from those that played but I'd probably expect more changes than just replacing them to produce something that looks more like a "first team" given that Watford are of a higher standard than Stevenage. Therefore I think only Bouzanis, Obi-Wan and maybe Holmes will remain from the League Cup though Abrefa, Leavy, Holzman and Ehibhatiomhan have shown some good signs that they're capable this season so may well be in the squad. Overall I’d expect Junior Hoilett, Tom Ince and Jeff Hendrick to be rested (maybe spots on the bench though) and Dann and Azeez getting starts for more game time.
Injuries remain, Watford have an injury list worse than that of Reading (7 injured) plus a suspension for Hassane Kamara to contend with while Reading are nursing 5 players (Ejaria, Fornah, Hutchinson, Moore and Tetek) though there is a possibility that Hutchinson will at last make it. Holmes is expected to be available if needed after an illness. However an overall bigger issue for the club will be if new deals for Carroll and Mbengue have not been agreed as their contracts expire this week….
If the game is drawn it will go to a replay at Vicarage Road (replays remain until the 5th round) probably on Tuesday 17th January.
Lastly, if Reading progress or Sheffield United get the better of Millwall at the Den then the home game with the Blades will be postponed and, given the last week of January is fixture free in the Championship, I would presume it would just be put back to Tuesday 31st January (but that will be confirmed by the club one way or another once the situation is clear).
26 Feb 2022 > Blackpool 4-1 Reading
25 Sep 2021 > Reading 1-0 Middlesbrough
25 Sep 2019 > Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 Reading (League Cup)
21 Aug 2019 > West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Reading
16 Mar 2019 > Stoke City 0-0 Reading
16 Dec 2017 > Ipswich Town 2-0 Reading
25 Feb 2017 > Brighton & Hove Albion 3-0 Reading
21 Jan 2017 > Derby County 3-2 Reading
30 Jan 2016 > Reading 4-0 Walsall (FA Cup)
20 Dec 2015 > Reading 1-0 Blackburn Rovers
08 Aug 2015 > Birmingham City 2-1 Reading
This is another of the "should be but isn't" derbies. Reading v Watford is one of the most played fixtures outside of games between sides in the top division. The two clubs have been at it "hammer and tongs" with each other pretty consistently in all competitions since February 1920, which is now 120 games ago so you'd think there'd the some sort of frission between the two but for whatever reason it's just never caught on - perhaps a sign of games that are largely pretty inoffensive and unmemorable?
Reading have beaten Watford 45 times while Watford have won 49 with the gap in victories largely being down to Reading's league cup deficit against the Hornets. In cup games Reading have won 5 times while Watford have done it 8 times. In the FA Cup though it's 2 wins each (Watford winning in 1958 & 1971 and Reading in 1933 & 1964). That last cup game in 71 was a 5-0 stuffing at Vicarage Road so it would be nice to be able to get ahead again following this victory.
How to follow the game
- Ticket up and travel
- Listen to Radio 5 Live and/or a myriad of other radio stations for score flashes
- Ring/text a mate for updates
- Use a RoyalsTV subscription
- BBC Radio Berkshire (FM : 104.4, 104.1 or 95.4 depending where you are in the area)
- Believe as it’s the cup, rather than the league, that you should be able to get commentary on the BBC Sports radio app