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Premier League

  • 18 August 2012
  • • 15:00
  • • Madejski Stadium, Reading, Berkshire
  • Referee: K. Friend
  • • Attendance: 23973
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Reading - Stoke Preview: Royals look to hit the ground running in Premier League against Tony Pulis' Potters

Reading - Stoke Preview: Royals look to hit the ground running in Premier League against Tony Pulis' Potters

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Brian McDermott's side will hope to earn their first top flight in four years when they entertain the west Midlands outfit in their opening clash at the Madejski Stadium

  PROBABLE LINEUPS

Reading

Federici
Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte

McCleary, Guthrie, Leigertwood, McAnuff
Le Fondre, Pogrebnyak
Stoke

Begovic
Shotton, Shawcross, Upson, Wilson

Pennant, Whitehead, Cameron, Etherington
Walters, Crouch

Reading boss Brian McDermott faces a few selection dilemmas for his inaugural Premier League match in charge with Jimmy Kebe out with a knee injury and veteran striker Jason Roberts starting a two-match suspension.

There is good news for McDermott, however, as midfielder Jem Karacan is set to be named on the bench after making a miraculous recovery from a broken ankle sustained in April.

Summer signing Garath McCleary is set to take Kebe's spot in the starting 11 and could be joined by fellow acquisitions Chris Gunter, Danny Guthrie and Pavel Pogrebnyak while Adam Le Fondre, who completes a meteoric rise from League Two to Premier League football in just two seasons, will contend with Noel Hunt to replace Roberts.

Set-piece specialist Ian Harte is set to get the nod at left-back over another new addition Nicky Shorey.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis faces similar selection problems with defensive lynchpin Robert Huth not expected to start the game after contracting meningitis last week. The German could, however, make an amazing return to take his place amongst the substitutes after returning to light training.

Matthew Upson will start alongside captain Ryan Shawcross at the heart of the defence but it is in the middle of the park where Pulis must make some decisions.

New signings Michael Kightly, Jamie Ness and Geoff Cameron are all pushing for starts, with the latter expected to seal a spot in the team.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • Reading have won eight and lost none of their last nine league games at the Madejski Stadium.
  • The Royals conceded the highest percentage of goals from set pieces of any team in the 2011-12 Championship (42%).
  • Reading are unbeaten in their last six meetings in all competitions against Stoke (one penalty shoot-out defeat) and have won the last four league games in a row against the Potters.
  • Reading have scored a penalty in each of their last three games against Stoke in all competitions.
  • Reading new boy Pavel Pogrebnyak (pictured right) scored six goals from his first six shots on target when playing for Fulham last season.
  • Stoke scored the highest percentage of headed goals in the 2011-12 top flight (39%).
  • The Potters conceded the highest proportion of first half goals in the 2011-12 Premier League (55%).
  • Tony Pulis' side scored the highest proportion of goals from set pieces of any team in the 2011-12 Premier League (58%).
  • Stoke have won none of their last nine Premier League away games (D3 L6) and scored just three goals in that run.

Players to watch

P. Pogrebnyak

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
The Russian will be determined to prove that his goalscoring exploits for Fulham in this league last year were no fluke and provide the goals on a regular basis that can help the club survive relegation. Pogrebnyak's form for the Cottagers last year was excellent but it remains to be seen whether he can produce the goods with a newly-promoted outfit.

J. Pennant

Position: Midfielder

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
The controversial winger has a point to prove to Stoke fans who feel that the newly-named No.7 was not at his best last season. With the arrival of Michael Kightly placing pressure on the ex-Arsenal man, the onus is on him to deliver more consitently for the Potters.

Editor's Prediction

McDermott's men will be riding on a wave of optimism and excitement heading into the new season but Stoke, who themselves are becoming seasoned veterans of the Premier League will be eager to burst their bubble.

In what is sure to be a tightly-fought encounter, I feel both sides may cancel each other out with a stalemate looking the most probable outcome.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Reading

Stoke City

Wins
2
1
2
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Reading FC REA
Reading FC Reading
Draw
Stoke City FC STO
Stoke City FC Stoke City
38%
18%
44%

Top 3 Predictions

Reading FC REA
2 - 1
Stoke City FC STO
Reading FC REA
1 - 2
Stoke City FC STO
Reading FC REA
1 - 1
Stoke City FC STO

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