Saturday’s guests Bristol City lie 11th in the Championship standings – their midtable position reflecting an up-and-down start to the campaign.
After four straight wins across August and September, the Robins haven’t quite been able to string another run like that together. But Reading boss Paul Clement knows that his team need to be ready to match our visitors if they’re at their best.
“Bristol City are a solid team, and they have one of the best away records in the league,” Clement said. “But they’ve also been inconsistent in their performances.
“They had a stuttering start, then they put together a run of four consecutive wins. And then they’ve struggled to get that consistency again recently.
“I went to see them in one of the first games of the season when they played against Nottingham Forest. Since then, they’ve been a little bit up and down. They had a good run, put together some results and put some points on the board and shot right up the table.
“And then it fell away from them a bit. They are a good team with a good, organised, structure - the players know their jobs. They mix up their style and play a little bit from the back, sometimes a bit more direct. They put lots of crosses into the box. And, like any game in the Championship, we have to expect a very difficult game.
“You have to expect the best version of a team to arrive. If you don’t, you haven’t prepared well enough mentally. We’ll expect a tough Bristol City side coming to us.
“For sure they’ll be looking at how we have been recently and thinking they have a good chance. But if we can play as well as we have done – such as at home against Hull or away at Preston – then on our day we’re a match for anybody.”
On our own performance, the boss outlined where the focus has been over the past week on the training pitches at Hogwood Park.
“We’re doing reasonably well on the offensive side – we have to defend better and clearly we’re conceding too many goals and not keeping enough clean sheets,” he continued.
“It hasn’t been a massive tally of goals we’ve conceded in any one game barring perhaps West Brom, we’re not an awful defensive side, but with clean sheets you have a fantastic chance to get results because I know we can score goals.
“So we’ve been working on the defensive structure this week, compactness, good distances - all the principles of good defending. And hopefully we’re going to see it on Saturday.
“Saturday is a very important game - for the club, for this group of players and for me personally.”