Seeing as The Rolling Stones have been back in the news recently (and I have just parted with a rather ridiculous sum of money to see them in concert), we might as well quote the wrinkly old rockers and say that the meeting of Reading and Liverpool at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday shows that in football, You Can’t Always Get What You Want.
I could have easily written about Doom and Gloom (although as one of their newer efforts you’ve probably never heard it) but either way, with just six games left of the Premier League season, both Reading and Liverpool have a mountain to climb if they are going to achieve what they wanted from 2012/13.
Many people would argue It’s All Over Now for Reading, sitting eight points from safety with just six games left, but if they aren’t already as good as relegated, then the match with the Reds really is the last throw of the Tumbling Dice if the Royals are to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.
But let’s be honest, an immediate return to the Championship is exactly where they are heading.
Trading Brian McDermott for Nigel Adkins was like swapping Brown Sugar for white, and it hasn’t made the slightest difference to the Royals’ fate, which is perhaps not so surprising given that the CVs of the two managers are strikingly similar and lack real top-flight experience.
Reading are on an eight-match losing sequence, six under McDermott (which includes an FA Cup defeat to Manchester United) and two under ex-Southampton boss Adkins, who has overseen the conceding of six goals in his tenure so far.
And with the players clearly happier under their former gaffer than their new one, the Royals’ fight against the drop will soon be Out of Time.
For Liverpool, it has been a season of Mixed Emotions.
There have been clear improvements, particularly in the attacking third, but trailing Everton by three points having played a game more is not going to make the Reds fans Happy and only leap-frogging their great rivals into sixth position come May would represent a Respectable season for the Anfield club given there will be no silverware to match last season’s League Cup triumph.
But with sixth place not even guaranteed Europa League football next season, the Merseysiders’ hopes look as forlorn as Reading’s and in many ways, this match will mean very little in the grand scheme of things.
In fact, Sir John Madejski’s wish for a minute’s silence for Margaret Thatcher – against Liverpool of all teams – is about the most interesting thing to come from the build-up to this match.
But with no Sympathy for the Devil forthcoming, what happens on the pitch will be interesting.
The bookmakers at bwin obviously have No Expectations from Reading, who are 6/1 to win, which I would normally be saying looks way too big against this Liverpool team, but the way the Royals are performing I don’t even want to have a look at the 333/100 about the draw and instead, I’ll try to get value on the 11/25 about the away victory.
I know Liverpool let everybody down for what should have been a home banker last weekend with a sterile 0-0 draw with West Ham United at Anfield, and it certainly won’t be The Last Time the Merseysiders underwhelm over the coming months as boss Brendan Rodgers tries to build something approaching a squad capable of challenging for the top four.
But Little by Little, Rodgers is improving Liverpool and on their day they are still capable of giving teams like Reading a good going over.
As such, I think they will win at the Madejski by at least two goals and Wild Horses couldn’t stop me from getting on that scenario at 5/4, which would return £45 for new customers successfully backing it with their free £20 bet.
The Royals’ dismal recent run has seen them concede 19 goals and they easily have the worst defensive record in the division, with their 63 goals against showing the Reading back four haven’t got a clue What to Do.
Reading have kept just three clean sheets all season and with only Wigan letting in more home goals, this could be one of those occasions when Liverpool Let it Loose and win by a decent margin.
As I’ve said before, it is all or nothing with Liverpool: eight of their 13 league wins have been by at least three goals, including six of the last eight.
And as long as Liverpool have their very own Street Fighting Man Luis Suarez, I am always willing to side with them against such porous defences.
Suarez has been Hot Stuff all year, and with the Uruguayan making many a defender look like a Turd on the Run this season, a side that has lost by two more or more goals nine times this year – more than any other team (including four of their six home defeats) – can be on the receiving end again.
The Reds’ record of five wins and 20 goals from their eight away games against the teams in the bottom half of the table also tips the balance in their favour.
So get on Liverpool to win by at least two goals – It’s Only 5/4 (But I Like It).