Arsenal vs Reading – Preview


Arsenal host relegation threatened Reading tomorrow afternoon in a game that is huge for both teams, who are at opposite ends of the table. Arsenal are currently 5th and are still hoping to finish as high as 3rd, whilst Reading are 19th and 7 points off of safety.

Team News: Arsenal found out yesterday that Abou Diaby will be out of action for up to 9 months after he picked up an injury in training. Jack Wilshere is still out for another 2 weeks, whilst Theo Walcott remains sidelined with an injury he picked up whilst training with the England squad. Kieran Gibbs is also a doubt.

Lukas Podolski and Bacary Sagna are available for selection again following injuries.

Podolski and Sagna are available again following injuries.

The visitors have been handed a boost with the return of Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak. Former Arsenal goalkeeper Stuart Taylor could lose his place in the line-up to Alex McCarthy, who is fit again after a long-term injury.

Reading hired former Southampton manager Nigel Adkins earlier in the week after The Royals sacked former Arsenal player Brian McDermott earlier in the month.

This Season’s Meetings: Reading 5-7 Arsenal (AET) – Arsenal and Reading have met twice already this season. The first meeting between the two sides was back in October when the Gunners travelled to the Madejski Stadium for a League Cup tie. Reading raced into a 4-0 lead before Theo Walcott pulled one back on the stroke of half time. What followed was the kind of football most people thought was only possible on their Playstation’s. Olivier Giroud netted Arsenal’s second with 25 minutes to play, but still a comeback seemed unlikely. When Laurent Koscielny nodded in a third with 2 minutes left, few expected an Arsenal equaliser. It came with virtually the last kick of the game as Walcott’s shot crossed the line. Carl Jenkinson put it in just in case, but the goal was given to Walcott.

In extra-time, Marouane Chamakh gave Arsenal the lead. It still wasn’t over as Pavel Pogrebnyak found an equaliser with just 4 minutes to go in extra-time. Many people thought penalties were coming, but the drama wasn’t over yet. Walcott scored his third of the night in the last minute of extra-time. There was still time for Chamakh to score his second of the evening and complete a night of utter madness at the Madejski. It ended 7-5 to Arsenal. Unbelievable stuff.

Reading 2-5 Arsenal – Arsenal travelled to bottom of the table Reading in need of a win. They had just been knocked out of the League Cup by League Two side Bradford City and needed to give their fans something to cheer about after that humiliation. Thankfully, Reading was the place to be when in need of some Christmas cheer.

Arsenal were 3-0 up at half time after Lukas Podolski gave them the lead with just under 15 minutes played and Santi Cazorla scored twice in two minutes to put the game out of sight before the break.

Cazorla added his third on the hour mark as this time it was Arsenal who had the 4-0 lead. Reading tried to do an Arsenal if you will, when Le Fondre and Kebe pulled two goals back in quick succession. Ten minutes later and any Reading hopes were shattered as Theo Walcott netted once again at the Madejski to put the game beyond any doubt.

So there you have it. Two games played between Arsenal and Reading this season and an incredible 19 goals have been scored in those games. One thing Reading fans will be grateful for tomorrow is Theo Walcott won’t be able to score against them tomorrow as he is out. They still have to deal with plenty of attacking talent that will be on display. Cazorla has already scored a hat-trick against them this season as well.

Nigel Adkins is a terrific manager. I don’t think he’ll be able to save Reading from relegation though. It’ll be interesting to see how his side do tomorrow though in his first game. A positive result of any kind and it could be the catalyst for a great survival story. A draw would certainly be a point more than a lot of people expect. I rule out nothing with Arsenal. The Gunners have been in good form before the international break though, with 2-0 wins away to both Bayern Munich and Swansea. Let’s hope they can continue where they left off!.

My final point in this preview will be that Nigel Adkins has managed against Arsenal twice already this season when he was at Southampton. Arsenal won comfortably when his Saints side visited the Emirates, thrashing them 6-1 back in September. Arsenal travelled to Adkins’ Southampton on New Year’s Day and drew 1-1. I’m hoping for a scoreline similar to the 6-1 rather than the 1-1!.