TONY PULIS believes that Stoke City can draw encouragement from their current position in the top half of the Barclays Premier League table . . . and their performance in last weekend's defeat at the Emirates Stadium.
Pulis' side will be looking for their first Premier League win of 2013 when they take on an in-form Reading side at the Britannia Stadium this weekend after a tough spell in which they have taken two points from five matches.
In contrast to City's dip in fortunes, Reading have boosted their survival hopes since Christmas with a string of impressive results to lift them out of the bottom three after the finding the going tough in the first half of the season.
Therefore, Pulis is expecting another difficult game, but he said: "Despite the spell that we've had, we're still tenth in the League.
"We have to look at that very much in a positive way. It would certainly be lovely to finish in tenth spot come the end of the season.
"That's where we are now, so we want to push on and get more points on the board. But there are no easy games, whether you are playing teams at the top, bottom or in mid-table. That's why it's the toughest League in the world."
He added: "The performance at Arsenal was what we needed. I am sure that it will have given the lads a lot of confidence.
"I was desperately disappointed for the players after the final whistle because they certainly didn't deserve that result."
Pulis believes that the contrasting fortunes of both his side and Reading over the past few weeks has shown how quickly things can change.
"It's only a few weeks ago that we were on a long unbeaten run and Reading were being written off," commented City's manager.
"They've had a few decent results and all of a sudden, they're out of the relegation zone and everybody's saying they'll stay up.
"That's how quickly it can change, especially in the Premier League where so many clubs are compatible. Outside of the top four or five, everyone is capable of beating anyone; there's very little to choose between us all."
He added: "Reading have put together a great run of results over the past month which has probably surprised a few people. That has shown they have real spirit because they've scored so many goals late in games.
"I've watched their last three matches and they've set up differently to how they were playing in the first half of the season. They're a lot more difficult to break down now and they have got good pace in the wide areas."
*Tickets are still available for the visit of Reading and this is a Category B game for ticket prices.
These can be booked online at scfcdirect.com or over the telephone through the Ticket Office Hotline on 01782 367599.
Alternatively, they can be purchased in person at the Britannia Stadium Ticket Office or at the Club Store in the Potteries Shopping Centre.