Two teams with contrasting form going into tomorrow’s Premier League game, as Stoke and Reading face off at the Britannia. The Potters have not won since their boxing day victory over Liverpool, while Brian McDermott’s side are starting to find some form. The Royals have only lost one in their last six games, winning three of those encounters.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis – ”We have had a very, very tough run again like at the start of the season, we have got through that period and we are still 10th in the league so we are pleased with that. What we have to do now is win a few games, although we know it will be tough (on Saturday) – they are on a great run at the moment. What they have shown by scoring so many goals late on is that they have real spirit in the team. It has been remarkable really.’
Reading manager Brian McDermott – “Every time you go there you know the fans are very, very vocal. They`ve become an established club in the Premier League and it`s something that we would aspire to. They also play some really good football at times, they`ve got good players there. But then they mix it up too. In football you have to mix it up and do what you have to do. Tony has been doing it at this level now for a long, long time and he`s been very successful.’
Stoke Team News:
Defender Marc Wilson has returned to training for Tony Pulis’ side, but will not be considered for this game. New signing from America Brek Shea is likely to obtain a place on the bench.
Player to watch: Peter Crouch
The England international will openly admit he hasn’t had the best start to the season, but will want to make an impression to the Potters fans and Roy Hodgson. Could well fancy his luck against 5’11 central defender Adrian Mariappa.
Reading Team News:
Reading striker Noel Hunt should be fit to make the bench for this game, after picking up a knock that has kept him out of the past two games. Fellow striker Jason Roberts and goalkeeper Alex McCarthy are still long-term injury problems.
Player to watch: Hope Akpan
The January signing from Crawley made his first Premier League start against Sunderland and he didn’t look out of place. However, it will be interesting to see how well he copes with the physical battle that Stoke will provide.
Stoke: Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Cameron, Walters, N’Zonzi, Whelan, Etherington, Adam, Crouch
Reading: Federici, Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte, Leigertwood, Akpan, Kebe, McAnuff, McCleary, Pogrebnyak
The referee for this game will be Michael Oliver. The 27-year old last took charge of the Royals in late December, as Reading emerged victorious against West Ham.
I can’t this being a classic, especially considering Stoke don’t concede many at home usually. We’re also a lot more solid compared to a few months ago, so as long as we can cope with Stoke’s physical game, I can see us cancelling each other out.
Vital Reading prediction: Stoke 0 – 0 Reading
Stoke – Fulham (A) – Saturday 23rd February – Premier League
Reading – Man Utd (A) – Monday 18th February – FA Cup fifth round