Swansea City-Reading Preview
By TOM BENNETT
STATS European Football Writer
(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - At the bottom of the Premier League at Christmas, Reading will be hoping to move closer to safety as they welcome Swansea to the Madejski Stadium on Boxing Day.
The Royals (1-6-11) have lost seven games in a row, with the latest defeat coming against champions Manchester City thanks to a heartbreaking 92nd-minute Gareth Barry goal. Wednesday's round of fixtures signals the end of the first half of the season, and Reading's tally of just nine points at the halfway stage prompted manager Brian McDermott to call for the fans to rally behind the team.
"We need our fans massively to be with us," said McDermott. "They took so much credit from last year, dragging us over the line. We need them to be with us again. We are looking forward to a full house at the Madejski Stadium on Boxing Day.
"It is hard at the moment, sat here after losing a goal at Man City, late like that. It really is difficult and it is tough to take but you have to. One thing I have found out about myself in the last three years is I am resilient person and you have to be in this job."
Swansea City (6-6-6) are comfortably mid-table under manager Michael Laudrup, and picked up a welcome Christmas present when they drew 1-1 with league leaders Manchester United on Sunday. However, the Welsh club's manager insists this match against Reading will be pivotal to his team's season.
"The result against United was a great result for the club, the players, the staff and the supporters," said Laudrup. "We can enjoy it for 24 hours or so but from Tuesday we have to start thinking about Reading as it is even more important. It is a key game. It is our last game in the first half of the season, and if we win that it would be fantastic. In fact for us to turn around with 27 points would be excellent.
"We can't go into it expecting an easy game from them because they're fighting for their lives, and I don't think we will get an easy game. We've got to go into it looking to get three points and it will be a big three points if we can get them."
Jason Roberts (hip) is an injury doubt for Reading, while Angel Rangel (calf) and Pablo Hernandez (hip) are concerns for Swansea. Neil Taylor is out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury.
Swansea came from 2-0 down at halftime to draw 2-2 when these teams met at the Liberty Stadium in October. Wayne Routledge and Premier League top-scorer Michu scored the goals. That meeting was the first between the clubs since the action-packed 2010-11 Championship Play-Off Final, when Reading nearly rallied from a 3-0 deficit after 45 minutes, only to concede a late fourth.
Reading have lost just three of their eight home games this season, but have managed just a solitary win and have conceded more goals at home (19) than any other team in the top flight.
Updated December 24, 2012