Picklive Previews: Reading v QPR and Swansea City v Cardiff City

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It’s a Picklive Preview double header from the Championship this weekend as Reading face QPR on Friday evening before Cardiff travel the short distance to neighbours Swansea on Sunday afternoon. Two intriguing games involving four promotion contenders, but which players deserve to be selected in your Picklive lineup? Let’s take a look at the candidates.


Reading v Queen’s Park Rangers – Friday, 7.45pm

The table-topping visitors have been Picklive regulars, relatively speaking, over the last few months, with their trips to the Ricoh Arena and Ashton Gate both receiving attention as well as their first defeat of the season – a 3-1 home reverse at the hands of Watford in December.

In both the Watford and Coventry games, the now departed Tottenham right-back Kyle Walker was their top Picklive points scorer, netting 81 points against the Sky Blues but just 52 when the Hornets came to Loftus Road. Walker is now a Villan so the search must continue for potential points scorers this time around.

Indeed, the defeat to Watford has, luckily for QPR fans, been an exception to prove the rule so far this season so we will focus on the away games against Coventry and Bristol City.

On this evidence, Alejandro Faurlin is the chief passer. The Argentine completed 54 passes at Ashton Gate, 16 more than Walker who was his nearest rival for the crown. Faurlin also completed 31 passes at the Ricoh, just one fewer than Rangers’ most prolific passer that day, Adel Taarabt.

The mercurial Moroccan is a must-pick for this game despite tending to shine more in West London than when QPR take to the road. Faurlin seems a decent choice too despite being booked in both of the games highlighted, which also saw Paddy Kenny and Clint Hill scoring consistently well.

As for Reading, without a recent Picklive game to refer to, a snapshot of recent matches at the Madejski shows their strength. Despite conceding a 97th minute leveller to Cardiff’s Craig Bellamy in midweek, the Royals will feel rightly confident opposing the league leaders. Reading are unbeaten at home since 16th October when Swansea triumphed in Berkshire.

QPR midfielder Mikele Leigertwood is currently on loan at Reading, for whom he has scored twice in the last two games, but is obviously ineligible to face his parent club and will also start a three-match ban for violent conduct in midweek.

Striker Shane Long has nine goals in his last ten games, while winger Jimmy Kebe has also been in excellent form recently. Reading have also conceded just three goals in their last six games, meaning goalkeeper Adam Federici may be worth a pick.


Swansea City v Cardiff City

The big one. Not just in South Wales, either. The second meeting of these bitter rivals is arguably the most intriguing fixture of the entire Football League season. Their first encounter was featured on Picklive, so let’s turn to that first.

Cardiff were without their best player, the since-capped England international Jay Bothroyd, for the visit of Swansea in early November. They were also largely outplayed and relied heavily on the threat of Craig Bellamy, who registered both of their meagre two shots on target during the game.

Danny Drinkwater, now on loan at play-off rivals Watford, was their top points scorer that day with just 44, closely followed by Bellamy (43), goalkeeper Thomas Heaton (42) and last season’s top goalscorer Peter Whittingham (41). On this evidence, Bellamy and Bothroyd are the picks although the Englishman compiled 40 of his top-scoring 73 points at Elland Road earlier in the season with the aid of two goals. You may be relying on one or two more from Bothroyd at the Liberty Stadium should he make your Picklive five.

Defender Garry Monk top-scored for the Swans at the Cardiff City Stadium, an impressive 34 interceptions contributing to his total of 64 points. Monk is out until March, though, so your best bet may be defensive colleague Alan Tate, who top-scored with 96 points (21 more than second-placed Neil Taylor) in Swansea’s win at Portman Road in December.

Everpresent Welsh international Ashley Williams was down in seventh place and accumulated just 33 points in total (less than Monk’s number of interceptions) in the meeting with Cardiff. Mark Gower (60) was Swansea’s second highest Picklive points scorer that day, while right-back Angel Rangel completed the highest number of passes (44). Goalkeeper Dorus de Vries picked up 39 points but can certainly expect to be busier this time around, with Cardiff having a point to prove and Bothroyd available for selection.


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The Seventy Two
The Seventy Two published an outstanding series of articles about the Football League between 2010-12 and was the brainchild of Leicester City fan, David Bevan. As well as collaborating with The Two Unfortunates on the Football League Blog Network and a mammoth 2011-12 season preview, the site featured a host of leading bloggers and David was rewarded with a nomination in the 2011 Football Supporters’ Federation awards. Latterly, he was joined as co-editor by Joe Harrison and TTU is happy to present this archive of the site’s output.

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