- The Championship’s Matchday 27 kicks off on Friday, January 29, KO 3:00 pm EST with Reading vs Bournemouth
- Sixth-placed Bournemouth know a win over fifth-placed Reading would see them leapfrog their opponents
- We preview the game, look at the odds, and offer a best bet below
Fifth meets sixth in the English Championship when Reading vs Bournemouth kicks off the weekend’s program on Friday, January 29 (KO 3:00 pm EST). Both teams will be looking for the win that will keep them in touch with the division’s top two.
Reading vs Bournemouth Odds
|Reading vs Bournemouth||REA +1 (-345) | BOU -1 (+260)||REA +225 | DRAW +230 | BOU +120||Ov 2.5 (+100) | Un 2.5 (-125)|
All odds taken Jan 28 at DraftKings
Flying Start for the Royals
Reading’s flying start to the season – seven wins and a draw in their first eight games – sent out a signal of intent to the rest of the Championship but the Royals have won just six games since. Instead of opening up an unassailable lead at the top of the table, they find themselves in fifth place, nine points behind leaders Norwich, and are now well and truly ensconced in a battle for the playoff places.
FULL-TIME | Preston North End 0-0 Reading
One more point in the bank – a tightly-contested game that could have been converted into a win but Lucas João’s penalty went wide. Spoils shared at Deepdale.#PNEREA | 0-0 pic.twitter.com/F6fN8cHudD
— Reading FC (@ReadingFC) January 24, 2021
They are however unbeaten since the week before Christmas, picking up 11 points in their last five Championship games, and so head into this game against highly-rated opponents with some momentum. Manager Veljko Paunovic has had to contend with a long injury list and been without many of his key figures, including top scorer Lucas Joao, so for them to still be in the mix is a testament to the Serbian’s management skills.
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Despite the result yesterday, it was another impressive showing by @asmir1 ? pic.twitter.com/yisQSPr6DD
— AFC Bournemouth ? (@afcbournemouth) January 17, 2021
Joao Key for Reading
While losing to Luton Town in the FA Cup last weekend was not part of the Royals’ plan, it is worth noting that Paunovic made nine changes to the team that beat Huddersfield a week earlier, so this should have no bearing on Friday’s match.
A win here for Reading against fellow top-six opponents would re-establish their promotion credentials and keep them in touch with the top two and a shot at the automatic places. As ever, the key to their chances on Friday night and beyond will be the fitness of Joao. If he keeps fit, they have a chance.
Reading vs Bournemouth Head-to-Head Stats
|5th||Current position in EFL Championship||6th|
|25 / 13||Games played / Wins||25 / 11|
|3-0 vs Rotherham
|Biggest win||5-0 vs Huddersfield|
|0-3 vs PNE & Stoke||Biggest loss||2-3 vs PNE|
Up until the middle of December, Bournemouth’s season looked like being a procession that would lead them back to the EPL at the first time of asking. With the Cherries using their Premier League-quality squad to good effect, they lost just twice in that period, but since then have won just once and have lost their last two – against Luton Town and Derby County.
Appearance number ?
And a delightful goal which made it 2-0 on the night!
Loving your work, @andyrinomhota ? pic.twitter.com/bFjn2c2FjR
— Reading FC (@ReadingFC) January 20, 2021
Manager Jason Tindall now has to lift his team as the Championship season enters the home straight and has attempted to strengthen his squad by bringing in West Ham’s Jack Wilshere on loan. The former Arsenal star made a great start to his second spell at the Vitality Stadium by netting his first goal Cherries goal in their FA Cup win over Crawley Town on Tuesday; his first start since September, having not started a single game at West Ham. His impact was instant. As a result, Tindall will be desperate to keep him fit over the next few months, knowing that extra class could be the difference between Bournemouth getting promoted and staying in the Championship.
Wilshere to Make the Difference?
While Bournemouth starts this one as a favorite, as the odds suggest this will be close. The arrival of Wilshere will undoubtedly give the Cherries a boost but a Reading team that includes Joao is always a threat. Equally noteworthy is that the Royals’ defense has been in outstanding form of late and comes into this game off the back of two straight Championship clean sheets and having conceded just twice in their last five league games.
Tonight’s ??????????? ? pic.twitter.com/hfAEOELv6H
— AFC Bournemouth ? (@afcbournemouth) January 26, 2021
For their part, Bournemouth are currently struggling in front of goal in the Championship and have not scored more than a single goal in a game since their 5-0 win over Huddersfield in December.
On that basis, while the Wilshere factor throws an unknown into the equation, the stats lend themselves to a narrow home win but Bournemouth’s recent tendency to be involved in very tight, low-scoring games suggests there is also value in the draw. If you fancy going for the correct score, the +540 on offer for the 1-1 draw looks good value, as does the straight draw at +230.
Pick: Reading and Bournemouth to draw (+230)