MX23RW : Monday, September 20 19:57:23| >> :120:7284:7284:
Aug 7, 2021 at 3pm UK at Bet365 Stadium
StokeStoke City
Powell (25'), Brown (28'), Surridge (85')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Swift (26'), Moore (61')
Moore (24'), Laurent (90')

Preview: Stoke City vs. Reading - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship clash between Stoke City and Reading, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

In the first round of fixtures of the 2021-22 Championship season, two sides with high hopes will square off as Reading make the trip to Staffordshire to take on Stoke City.

Reading narrowly missed out on the playoffs last year, while their hosts only fell out of reach in the final third of the season, and both sides will have their sights set on a top-six finish this time around.

Match preview

Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill pictured in October 2020© Reuters

Under the management of Michael O'Neill, Stoke City had a strong start to last season, hovering around the playoff spots at the half-way point, but their form quickly tailed off in the new year.

With just six victories from the 24 games after the turn of the year, the Potters eventually finished in 14th spot, although the season did end on a high with an impressive 2-0 win over sixth-placed AFC Bournemouth.

With O'Neill keeping the trust of the Stoke hierarchy and with a lot of the dead weight removed from the squad in the summer transfer window, this could be a big season for the Potters, who will be keen to sustain a push for the playoff's after last season's disappointment after the half-way mark.

On the whole, their pre-season campaign has put them in good shape, as O'Neill has overseen victories over Linfield, Crewe Alexandra and Aston Villa.

While they did suffer a disappointing 2-1 defeat at the hands of third-tier Wigan Athletic, the Potters bounced back with a commendable 1-1 draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers in their final friendly, providing plenty of encouragement heading into the new campaign.

They have been handed a tough opening encounter, playing host to a Reading side who narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season.

Reading manager Veljko Paunovic pictured in December 2020© Reuters

Reading certainly had a mixed campaign last season, having sat at the summit of the Championship table until the 11th game of the season.

They would eventually be brought off the top by a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Saturday's opponents, but managed to keep hold of a spot in the playoff places for the majority of the campaign.

Veljko Paunovic's side then occupied fifth spot until mid-March, but a run of just one victory from the final 11 games of the season saw the Royals drop to seventh spot, eventually finishing seven points behind Bournemouth in sixth place.

The Royals head into this season looking to go one better and achieve a top-six finish, although their pre-season preparations were far from ideal, having been comfortably defeated by West Ham United and Crystal Palace and held to a 1-1 draw by third-tier Charlton Athletic after opening with a narrow 1-0 win over Lincoln City.

Following last season's early success, Paunovic will know the importance of a fast start in the Championship, and his side will be keen to put a win on the board at the first time of asking to provide a platform for the busy upcoming run.

Stoke City form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D

Reading form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • L

Team News

Stoke City's Jacob Brown celebrates scoring their first goal on March 20, 2021© Reuters

The Stoke City squad for Saturday's game is vastly different to the one that completed the 2020-21 season, with the likes of Ryan Woods, Lee Gregory, Bruno Martins Indi, John Obi Mikel and Liam Lindsay all shipped out on permanent deals while Benik Afobe and Peter Etebo have completed loan moves to Millwall and Watford respectively.

Exciting centre-back Nathan Collins also departed for Burnley in the summer, but the Potters brought in an adequate replacement with the capture of Ben Wilmot from Watford.

Mario Vrancic was another arrival as he joined on a free transfer from Norwich City, while forward Sam Surridge was the latest addition following a move from AFC Bournemouth, although he will have to battle with the likes of Steven Fletcher and Jacob Brown for a spot in the front line.

Tyrese Campbell, another of O'Neill's attacking stars will miss the beginning of the campaign as he continues to recover from an injury that ruled him out for the majority of last season.

While Reading have not had as much movement in the summer transfer window, they will certainly feel the effects of the departure of exciting midfielder Michael Olise, who left for Crystal Palace after registering seven goals and 12 assists in Championship action last season.

John Swift possesses the ability to cover Olise's attacking contributions if his continued injury problems do not persist.

However, the absence of Olise does leave a physical gap in the Reading front line, with either striker George Puscas or midfielder Andy Rinomhota expected to fill in as a makeshift winger.

Midfielder Felipe Araruna will miss out, as he continues to recover from a serious knee injury.

Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Bursik; Wilmot, Souttar, Fox; Smith, Vrancic, Allen, Tymon; Powell; Fletcher, Brown

Reading possible starting lineup:
Cabral; Yiadom, Moore, Morrison, McIntyre; Rinomhota, Laurent; Puscas, Swift, Ejaria; Joao

SM words green background

We say: Stoke City 1-1 Reading

Reading had a particularly impressive start to last season under Paunovic and still possess the majority of their important players, while Stoke could look a completely new proposition this season with several valuable additions and the removal of dead weight.

We see the two sides opening with a stalemate as both look to get off to a good start while fearing a defeat.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or draw in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Draw:data

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General view of Stoke City's bet365 Stadium taken March 2018
Read Next:
Stoke City: Transfer ins and outs - Summer 2021
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