Reading have imploded since recording their long-awaited first win of the campaign and it could be argued that three points at Sunderland would be of greater importance than those they picked up when beating Everton in mid-November.
With both sides enduring miserable campaigns, this rearranged game at the Stadium of the Light is sure to have a massive impact on the relegation battle and a price of 11/4 is available on the Royals chalking up their second win of the season in this one.
A run of four straight defeats, including three on the road, suggests that this price is a touch on the short side, yet it remains a far more attractive prospect than the 1/1 on offer for Sunderland to claim the spoils on Wearside.
The Black Cats have lost six of their last eight outings following Saturday’s 3-1 reverse against Chelsea which stretched their run of winless home games to six in all competitions, dating back to late September.
Their fans have witnessed a meagre four goals in that spell and the Wearsiders’ inability to find the back of the net means Reading cannot be ruled out in this crucial clash.
A low-scoring affair has to be on the cards and a 1-0 win for the visitors offers excellent value at 10/1, while a slightly more adventurous 2-0 Reading pays out at a rate of 18/1.
The Royals have fared well in recent tussles with Martin O’Neill’s men, winning three of their last four. The same percentage of games have finished 2-1, two of which favouring the Berkshire club. For them to steal a march on their relegation rivals once more a very reasonable 11/1 says they’ll win 2-1, while the same score but in the hosts’ favour can be backed at a far less attractive 15/2.
The draw is a result Reading would take before kick-off and, given the current plight of both sides, this outcome offers good potential for a windfall at 12/5. A drab 0-0 is easy to envisage and, at 7/1, can be had at a pretty strong price.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date