Arsenal go into their Monday night clash against bottom of the table Reading with the humiliation of defeat to Bradford City still sticking in their craw.
The teams played out an enthralling 7-5 scoreline in the League Cup in October, but Arsene Wenger knows his side will have to start playing long before they’re 4-0 down tonight.
Despite having only won once in their last eight away matches, Arsene Wenger believes an away match might be just the tonic for his beleaguered Gunners side.
‘Our results are quite consistent and good away from home,’ Wenger said. ‘We had a good game against West Brom and it’s important to confirm that in our next away game at Reading. If you look at our season at the moment, we have not produced our performances at home. We’ve had more draws, especially at home and that is where we have lost the points.
‘There has been disappointment and frustration [this week], but that is normal when you go out in a competition like that. However, having said that, we can only look at ourselves, get on with it and look to the future.’
Meanwhile, Reading boss and ex Arsenal stalwart Brian McDermott was quick to play down any suggestion of a crisis for his opponents,.
‘”Arsene is real football man and has been at the Arsenal a long time.
“Arsenal is a massive club – well run financially, a terrific institution. I cannot see it as them being in crisis.
“They generally come good at the back end of the season. However many years since Arsene has been there, they have always made the Champions League.
‘Historically Arsenal are in the top three or four every season.
“Even Arsene himself will be asked that question ‘you have not won a trophy for seven years`.
“I am sure he is fed up with it and I understand the fans` frustrations. He will want to win trophies more than anyone.”
Reading Team News:
Jason Roberts faces a late fitness test on a hip injury to determine his involvement, whilst Pavel Pogrebnyak will definitely not make it.
Jimmy Kebe (groin) and Jem Karacen (knee) are fit again but unlikely to play any part, with Sean Morrison (ankle) and Alex McCarthy (knee) long term absentees.
Danny Guthrie will be involved having apologised for his refusal to join the squad for their away defeat to Sunderland on the basis of his ‘head not being right.’
Reading (from): Federici, Taylor, Gunter, Pearce, Mariappa, Gorkss, Harte, Shorey, MacAnuff, McLeary, Tabb, Robson-Kanu, Guthrie, Gunnarsson, Leigertwood, Le Fondre, Hunt, Roberts.
Player to watch: Kasper Gorkss
The Royals skipper has been one of Reaading’s better players in a tough season back in the top flight. He organises the back four and he will need all of his defensive nous tonight.
Reading conceded four at home to Arsenal and Manchester United over a ninety minute period this season, so I don’t expect them to be quite so open this time around.
Arsenal Team News:
Arsenal welcome back Olivier Giroud (back) and Theo Walcott (ankle) for the short trip west, along with Laurent Koscielny (groin).
Abou Diaby (thigh), Andre Santos (stomach), Johan Djourou (groin), Lukasz Fabianski (ankle) are all out.
Arsenal (from): Szczesny, Mannone, Sagna, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Coquelin, Ramsey, Wilshere, Rosicky, S.Cazorla, Chamberlain, Walcott, Gervinho, Podolski, Arshavin, Giroud, Chamakh.
Player to watch: Olivier Giroud
The only striker in Arsenal’s squad worthy of the name, he will look to give the Gunners a focal point after a toothless performance at Bradford.
His manager thinks he plays better ‘completely on the offside line’, but nobody tries to slip him through on goal when he does. It’s a curious balancing act for the Frenchman. But Arsenal need goals tonight.
Match Facts & Stats
Reading and Arsenal have met ten times and Arsenal have won every time thus far.
Reading have won just one of their last ten home games in the Premier League.
Arsenal have conceded the lowest number of second-half goals in the top-flight this season (six) while Reading have shipped the joint-most (20).
The Gunners have made the most passes in the Premier League this season (9221) while the Royals have made the fewest (4823).
The referee will be Anthony Taylor.
Nothing less than a win will suffice and I am confident we will get it. 3-1 Arsenal. Guthrie for Reading, Giroud to get a couple for Arsenal, with Gervinho bagging the other.
Arsenal play away at Wigan Athletic on Saturday lunchtime. Reading play away at Manchester City.