Reading v Stoke: Two slow starters lock horns

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Reading will be grateful of a home tie to kick off their return to Premier League action, especially against a Stoke side that finished last term in diabolical fashion on their travels.

Tony Pulis’ men didn’t win any of the 10 away games that followed their early-January win at Blackburn and only avoided defeat on the road against six teams who remain in the top flight. This makes 7/5 for Reading to make a winning return to the top flight action a tasty looking price.

Also, Stoke have only one of their four Premier League curtain-raisers since their 2007/08 promotion – losing both of their matches away from the Britannia.

This will be Brian McDermott’s biggest managerial test to date but, backed by Anton Zingarevich’s millions, he has snapped up some of the Championship’s better defenders, namely highly sought after, Adrian Mariappa, as well as Russian target man, Pavel Pogrebnyak.

The free agent made an explosive start to his short Fulham career, netting on his debut and the two games that followed it. He can be backed at 6/4 to open his Royals’ account at any time in this game.

Adam Le Fondre, an unlikely starter against Stoke, finished the previous campaign in the goals, notching five in six and if you fancy him to come off the bench and bag the game’s last, he’s 7/1.

Reading’s survival chances will depend more upon on whether they can go some way to replicating the home form that saw them rocket up the Championship standings last year.

They notched eight successive victories before drawing their ninth and final run out on home soil, keeping six clean sheets in the process.

Yet, similar to Saturday’s visitors, Reading tend to struggle on the opening day. They haven’t won in five day-one encounters, four ending with the points shared, including three 0-0 stalemates.

If Stoke’s pre-season form is anything to go by then Reading’s opening day trend looks set to continue.

The Potters concluded their seven-match schedule with four successive 1-1 draws, which is priced up at 11/2 with Ladbrokes, whereas 0-0 can be had at 8/1.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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