Arsenal will be looking for nothing less than progress in possibly the trophy they have the best chance of winning. Though Arsene will maintain his policy of blooding fringe and squad players, the starting line up should still contain plenty of experience, with the likes of Arshavin, Koscielny, Walcott and Jenkinson all in line to feature.
Reading meanwhile might think they have bigger fish to fry with a relegation battle looking likely for the Royals, but Brian McDermott will know how big a lift victory over Arsenal would give his squad.
Arsenela boss Arsene Wenger admitted that he wouldn’t be playing his strongest side, but re-emphasised his desire to progress, ”We fight as hard as we can to stay in all the competitions and if you have to make a choice you make it as late as possible. The Capital One Cup is in a period where you have to make a decision sometimes, as it is a time when we also have the League and the Champions League.
‘Some players need a breather because they had two international games, and the Champions League and Premier League games. They will have played five games in two weeks. Some will be rested tomorrow.’ The manager added: ‘We will still have an experienced side out with players from the squad. We will go to Reading with a good team who will have a good chance to win the game.’
Royals boss and ex Arsenal midfielder Brian McDermott was full of praise for his opponents, ‘It’s my first time as a first-team manager playing against them,’ he said.
‘I really had a good time there and the way they do things there and the way they conduct themselves, the word I’d use is class – they’ve got a real class about them.
‘I’m looking forward to it, really looking forward to it.
‘I was lucky, really, to be brought up at a fantastic club like that.’
‘We’ll do our best to progress,’ he said.
‘We’ll plan, we’ll prepare, and then we’ll see what the game brings.’
Reading Team News:
Brian McDermott must decide whether to bring Danny Guthrie back into his squad, amidst rumours of a falling out between the two- rumours that Reading deny.
Jem Karacan is still out with a knee injury, otherwise Reading have no fresh injury concerns.
Reading (from); Federici, McCarthy, Taylor, Gunter, Cummings, Gorkss, Pearce, Mariappa, Shorey, Harte, McAnuff, Guthrie, Leigertwood, Tabb, McCleary, Kebe, Pogrebnyak, Le Fondre, Hunt, Robson-Kanu, Church, Roberts.
Player to watch: Hal Robson-Kanu
The Welsh winger has been a supersub this season and a good source of goals from the bench. It’s likely he’ll get a chance from the off tonight, with instructions to get at Arsenal’s left back- whether that be the inexperienced Igansi Miquel, or the off form Andre Santos.
Arsenal Team News:
Arsene Wenger will rest most of his first teamers and all that started the QPR match on Saturday. Jack Wilshere will not be involved having started that game.
Wojciech Szczesny (ankle) and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain (ankle) are back training but the match comes too soon for them, as is the case for Kieran Gibbs (thigh).
Abou Diaby (thigh), Tomas Rosicky (achilles), Lukasz Fabianski (ankle) are also out. Hector Bellerin, Igansi Miquel, Nico Yennaris, Chuba Akpom, Serge Gnabry and Thomas Eisfeld weren’t included in last night’s U-21 fixture at Blackburn, which suggests they’ll make the squad.
Arsenal (from); Martinez, Shea, Jenkinson, Bellerin, Djourou, Koscielny, Squillaci, Meade, Miquel, Yennaris, Coquelin, Frimpong, Eisfeld, Walcott, Arshavin, Gnabry, Chamakh, Giroud.
Player to watch: Serge Gnabry
It’s been a swift elevation for the German winger of Ivorian heritage. Gnabry hadn’t even made his debut for the U-21s this time last year. Players with first team futures spend very little time in the Reserves and Gnabry has made the first quick jump needed. Now comes the hard part.
With Walcott and Arshavin not long for the club and Miyachi not impressing much at Wigan, there’s definitely a spot for Gnabry if he wants it. Tonight will likely see his first start for the club. He’ll want to show he’s up to it.
Match Facts & Stats
The last time the clubs met in this competition was November 2005 at Highbury. Arsenal ran out 3-0 winners with goals from Reyes, van Persie and Arturo Lupoli.
The sides also met at Highbury in the League Cup in October 1967, with Arsenal winning 1-0.
After Pat Rice scored the winning goal at Elm Park in 1972 in the F.A. Cup, he described his effort as ‘a tasty goal.’ The chant ‘Pat Rice, tasty goal!’ subsequently followed him for the rest of his playing career at Arsenal.
Brian McDermott played as a midfielder for Arsenal between 1978 till 1984. Reading also have Staurt Taylor in their ranks, who played for Arsenal between 1997-2005. Steve Sidwell, James Harper and Graham Stack have also been nurtured by Arsenal’s academy and subsequently played for Reading.
The clubs have met 9 times with Arsenal winning on every occasion.
Tonight’s referee is Kevin Friend.
I’m going for an Arsenal win. I don’t think (hope) that Reading will regard this match as much of a priority and I’m backing the likes of Arshavin, Walcott and, errrm, Chamakh (?!) to have enough to score goals for us. 2-0 Arsenal. Arshavin and Walcott.
Arsenal’s next match is away at Manchester United on Saturday. Reading play away at QPR on Sunday.
The draw for the next round will take place at around 10pm Wednesday evening.