With the bitter disappointment of losing the FA Cup final to Wigan still fresh in Sky Blue minds, most punters’ pop-psychology assessments would suggest that Roberto Mancini’s men would set about poor defenceless Reading with carnivorous abandon. However the lack of passion and commitment shown by City in that Wembley showpiece suggests that they may lack the necessary spirit to hammer Nigel Adkins’ Reading in a meaningless game.
It’s an ill-kept secret that a distinct downturn in goal-scoring has underpinned City’s tame relinquishment of the title this season and they’ve scored a whopping 26 less goals in 2012/13 than they’d managed by this stage of last season – an amount equivalent to just four goals shy of QPR’s entire Premier League output this term.
In 18 games against top flight foes since they overcame Stoke City 3-0 on New Year’s Day they’ve managed to win by more than a single goal on just four occasions, with only one of those victories coming in their last 10 outings.
Looked at in isolation their away form suggests the Citizens are at their most inhibited away from the Etihad, having posted just three road wins by more than a single goal all season long. With this in mind Reading will most likely be spared a shellacking and might be worth backing for the victory…with a +2 handicap of course!
The Royals are surprisingly defeat-resistant at home; with the six Madjeski losses they’ve sustained an equal or better show of home defiance than eight of their 18 top flight rivals.
Nigel Adkins’ men showed in the reverse fixture that they’re far from cowed by Mancini’s multi-millionaires when slipping to defeat courtesy of a last minute and highly contentious Gareth Barry header and given they’ve played two less games than their visitors since the fourth of May they should have a fitness edge.
The game with City represents a last chance for the Madjeski to wave farewell to Premier League football for the foreseeable future and the Royals will be keen to repay their stoic fanbase with as good a result as possible.
Whether that result will be a point-gleaning one remains to be seen, but with City’s lack of spirit and lust for goals unlikely to be fired by their prosaic opposition, the 3/5 about Reading to triumph on the +2 handicap makes plenty of appeal.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.