Arsenal travel to Reading for the second time this season on Monday night. The Gunners met Reading at the Madejski in the League Cup back in October, recovering from 4-0 down to draw 4-4, before winning 7-5 in extra-time in what was an incredible game. If we have a similar game on Monday we are in for a treat!.
Two of Reading’s goalscorers in that game could return to the starting line-up as both Jason Roberts and Pavel Pogrebnyak are confident of fighting off injuries. Jimmy Kebe and Jem Karacan will miss out despite returning to training and Sean Morrison will also be on the sidelines.
Olivier Giroud returns to the squad having missed last week’s defeat to Bradford, whilst Laurent Koscielny has returned to training after a thigh injury and Theo Walcott will be assessed before any decisions are made on his fitness. Abou Diaby, Andre Santos and Lukasz Fabianski remain out with injuries that have kept them out for a long time now.
Arsenal will need 3 points to help the recovery from the loss at Bradford last week, whilst Reading will need 3 points if they want to improve their chances of staying up this season. With QPR winning at home to Fulham yesterday, the Royals are now bottom of the league and 6 points off of safety. Recent defeats against relegations rivals such as Aston Villa, Southampton and Sunderland have left Reading rock bottom and with lots of work to do. With three of their next four fixtures at home, Reading need to start getting some points on the board. The bad news is for Reading that their next four fixtures are: Arsenal (h), Man City (a), Swansea (h) and West Ham (h). Certainly not the easiest fixtures, but that is part of being a Premier League club, being able to beat good sides. Bradford proved Arsenal are beatable. Not just Bradford, many sides have done that this year.
Recent Meetings: Arsenal have won all of the 10 competitive matches between the two sides, including all four Premier League meetings between the two clubs. The first meeting in the Premier League was in October 2006. Thierry Henry put Arsenal ahead within a minute and Arsenal ran away with it with goals from Alexander Hleb, Robin Van Persie and another goal from Henry, this time from the penalty spot sealing a comfortable away win for Arsenal.
The return fixture at the Emirates was closer. Two Brazilians were on the scoresheet for Arsenal in March 2007 as Gilberto Silva scored from the spot, before Julio Baptista gave Arsenal a 2-0 lead. Cesc Fabregas scored an own goal late on to make it a nervy last few minutes for the Gunners, but they held on and won 2-1.
Reading finished 8th in the league in the 2006/07 campaign, meaning they were well clear of relegation and would play Arsenal twice in 2007/08. The first game between the two that season was in November 2007 at the Madejski Stadium. Arsenal had a comfortable 3-0 lead after goals from Mathieu Flamini, Emmanuel Adebayor and Alexander Hleb before Nicky Shorey scored a late consolation goal and Arsenal won 3-1.
The last league meeting to date was in April 2008, when goals from Emmanuel Adebayor and Gilberto Silva sealed a much needed 2-0 win for Arsenal as they looked to keep their fading title hopes alive. Reading went on to get relegated that season and this is their first season back since, so apart from that great League Cup tie in October, there have been no other games between Arsenal and Reading since.
Fingers crossed that Arsenal don’t embarrass themselves for the second time in a week and can get 3 much needed points on the board!