READING look to continue their excellent Cup form on Friday night when they host Crystal Palace. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) eyes up the odds.
Reading v Crystal Palace | Friday 19:55 | BBC One
The FA Cup Quarter-Finals get underway on Friday with this match receiving a slot on BBC One. Despite that it's fair to say this is the least glamorous of the four fixtures.
Neither of the sides are in great form and since Christmas Day they've only won three league games between them. Reading have contributed all three of those wins of course and Crystal Palace remain the only side in England's top four divisions yet to pick up a league win in 2016.
For me the puzzle here are Palace but let's chat Reading first. It was heartening to see Brian McDermott return to the club just before Christmas. Fair play to him for swallowing his pride because he was cruelly sacked back in 2013 by the club when he had them in the top-flight.
If you had to sum up McDermott's second spell at the club so far you'd come to the conclusion that his side have simply drawn too many matches in the Championship.
They were 13th when he took back over and now sit 14th. His figures read P14 W4 D5 L5. Four of those defeats came in his opening eight matches and since then it's settled down a bit.
It's just one defeat in seven now for Reading and they strung three wins in a row together in February so there's definitely a suspicion that McDermott is starting to have a positive influence on the club.
The FA Cup has been a great competition for the Berkshire club in this decade and after reaching the semi-finals last season they have another opportunity to get back to Wembley here.
They've been spunking up goals so far this FA Cup season with 14 scored in their four matches in the competition so far with big wins over Huddersfield and Walsall supplementing a fine victory over West Brom.
But what about Palace eh? Joint fourth the week before Christmas. They haven't won since the turkey emerged from the oven on the festive day and now incredibly have relegation murmurings in their head. It's mad!!
The loss of Yannick Bolasie to injury has clearly had a deep negative effect on the club but there must be more to it than that. As a fan of Alan Pardew and someone who backed them on the handicap this season I find it a bizarre situation. In their defence you have to go back to January to find the last time they lost by more than one goal.
In the FA Cup though they've been shit hot! Wins over Southampton, Stoke and Tottenham is tremendous form and there can't be a side left in the competition with more impressive results.
The upturn in results in the FA Cup is probably to do with a combination of Palace taking it seriously and their opponents a lot less so. Even still it has to be respected.
Palace are currently 13/10 to win here and that's just a little too short for me bearing in mind their form and Reading's recent decent results. Having said that I think they'll get through on Friday and I'll back them to win by the odd goal at 3/1 with Paddy Power.
Reading v Crystal Palace – Crystal Palace to win by exactly one goal (3/1 Paddy Power)
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