Stoke City go into Saturday’s fixture in desperate form as they search for their first league win of 2012, while visitors Reading will arrive in resurgent form. Since their seven-game losing streak at the back-end of 2012, Reading have taken 14 points from a possible 21, including wins over Sunderland, Newcastle and West Brom.
On the other hand, Stoke have not won in the top flight since their 3-1 Boxing Day victory over Liverpool, which has seen their typically sturdy defence leak 16 goals in just six games. They sit in 10th position on 30 points, and with the Royals just seven points adrift, Tony Pulis’ side cannot afford to slip up once again.
Fresh from his Manager of the Month award for January, Brian McDermott will be in a buoyant mood, with his side now two points from the drop zone. The two sides played out a 1-1 draw on the opening weekend of the season, although since then Reading have climbed off the bottom of the table and are looking like a side actually capable of Premier League survival thanks to Adam Le Fondre - the January Player of the Month – who has seven goals in his last six games.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 3pm.
Reading 1 (Le Fondre) Stoke 1 (Kightly), Premier League, August 2012.
Stoke 2 (Pericard, Sidibe) Reading 2 (Henry 2) (Stoke won 4-3 on penalties), Carling Cup, September 2008.
Reading 3 (Sidwell, Doyle, Halls) Stoke 1 (Rooney), Championship, April 2006.
Stoke have not beaten Reading since a 3-0 victory in December 2003.
Since their 10-match unbeaten run, Stoke have lost 5 of their last 8 games.
Reading have won just once out of 12 away league games this season (1-2 victory against Newcastle last month).
Stoke have lost just once at home this season – equal with Man Utd, Man City and Everton.
Reading have 4 more points than they did at this point in the season when they were relegated from the top flight in 2007/08 (22).
Stoke to win: 1.94
Reading to win: 4.6
TV: Highlights on BBC1 at 10.20pm.