Reading’s return to the Premier League begins with a tricky home fixture against Stoke City, who have established themselves within the skyline of the top flight. Despite a struggle to keep their domestic form consistent whilst they juggled a Europa League campaign, the Potters are looking for another good season.
Stoke performed well in the Europa League last season, but struggled to keep their league form and were hugely inconsistent in their 14th place finish. Tony Pulis wants better from his side without a Europa League distraction and has sought to strengthen his side.
Michael Kightly has signed from Wolves and Jamie Ness has moved on a free transfer from Rangers to strengthen their midfield. Stoke are rooted in defence and are not looking to change their directional play, as they look to use the fortress of the Britannia Stadium to keep themselves in the Premier League. Fears will be high if Stoke start poorly and they face last season’s top four in the opening seven fixtures, which could be a worry for Pulis.
First up is a trip to Berkshire to take on Reading, who got promoted as champions following a very successful second half of the season. The summer has seen the Royals change ownership, as Russian tycoon Anton Zingarevich gained control from long-time owner John Madejski. Manager Brian McDermott has resisted the advances of a move to a bigger Premier League side to continue his work with Reading and has moved to sign a mixture of young Championship talent and players with important Premier League experience.
Chris Gunter, Adrian Mariappa and Gareth McCleary have been signed from the Championship and Danny Guthrie, Nicky Shorey and Pavel Pogrebnyak have played in the Premier League before. Pogrebnyak chose the Royals over Fulham and is expected to lead the line alongside veteran Jason Roberts and young talent Noel Hunt and Adam le Fondre. McDermott has Adam Federici in goal who has recently signed a new deal with the club and he will be the staple of everything the Royals achieve this season. Most of the neutrals expect Federici to be busy this season and McDermott may have worries over a defence which could be exploited by the Premier League quality.
A party atmosphere is expected at the Madejski Stadium for the opening game of the 2012-13 season.