Could Lucas match Walcott for goals against Reading in the EFL Cup?
Match Preview: Arsenal vs Reading – EFL Cup – 25.10.2016
The frenzied nature of English football’s fixtures has long been cited as a major factor in the national team’s predictable “under-performance” at major tournaments and is undoubtedly troublesome for clubs too as players are overworked and prone to injury. Perhaps it is also a downside for put upon fans who already spend far more than they should on following their team home and away but the upside is teams rarely have time to rest on their laurels or spiral into despair.
Arsenal will be thankful that just three days after a disappointing draw against Middlesbrough in the Premier League, they have the chance to salvage some momentum as they host Reading in the EFL Cup. Overall the Gunners cannot feel too despondent about the result as they are still unbeaten since the opening day loss to Liverpool, faced a team who only ever looked for a draw and they have kept pace with their rivals – just a solitary goal separates Arsenal and City at the top.
The EFL cup is a competition that has eluded Wenger for the past 20 years and although it looks as though his priorities have changed I believe he approaches this competition with the same determination and value. As with most other Premier League managers, Arsène plays the best team he can for the priority of the competition. And as the squads of other clubs have swelled to include players that would have walked into the team a few years previously Wenger has adjusted his team priorities accordingly and can now play a team with more recognisable first team players.
I genuinely believe he has tried to win this competition in the past, after all he has reached the final twice, but with three other competitions of greater value and significance to countenance his squads haven’t quite had the depth. Do they have the depth this season? That remains to be seen but he does have a crop of promising young players, a handful of restless first team players and a couple of injury returnees desperate for minutes.
With Cech and Ospina sharing responsibilities in the top priority competitions it is likely that Martinez will retain his position from the last round against Nottingham Forest. Beyond the young Argentine and our new Spanish striker-cum-winger Lucas Pérez, who Wenger has confirmed will start, it becomes more difficult to second guess who the manager will choose. The manager has a great mix to choose from as Gabriel, Holding, Jenkinson, Reine-Adelaide, Akpom, Lucas, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Elneny and the returning Giroud and Ramsey will be in contention along with a generous helping of Hale End’s best and brightest.
Arsenal are favourites for a significant win but that was the case at the weekend so irrespective of who starts it is paramount that the Royals are treated with respect and caution. Who can forget the epic 7-5 result in this very competition a few years ago? That was truly a game of two halves (and extra time) as an underestimated Reading side sailed into a 4-0 lead before Walcott struck back just before half-time to give a dejected Arsenal side the faintest glimmer of hope. This Arsenal team is vastly more mature than that particular side and you’d expect us not to leak goals in the same manner but with Jaap Stam as coach you can expect the same of Reading.
This is a winnable game but it all rests on the mentality of the selection. Fingers crossed we turn in a convincing performance and try to march on and win this cup (and more) for Wenger before he retires.
Martinez; Jenkinson, Gabriel, Holding, Gibbs; Coquelin, Zelalem, Reine-Adelaide; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lucas, Akpom.
I expect to see substitute appearances from Giroud and Ramsey.
“I believe he has the potential to be a great player for us. In training he continues to show he has the potential to play, he now has to transfer that into the games.” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Reading 1-2 Arsenal (18.04.2015—FA Cup)
- Arsenal 4-1 Reading (30.03.2013)
- Reading 2-5 Arsenal (17.12.2012)
Ironically it is Reading who will be treating this competition as a non-priority with Royals manager Jaap Stam considering it a bonus. The Dutchman, famed for his defensive talents, is trying to mould a Reading team in a similar image to Arsenal. Some will consider it suicide to play Arsenal at their own game but with nothing to lose and the ability to just express themselves this might not be the cakewalk some are expecting.
- Arsenal’s 7-5 win at Reading in October 2012 is the joint highest-scoring match in League Cup history (also Dagenham 6-6 Brentford in August 2014).
- Reading have lost all 13 of their previous meetings with Arsenal in all competitions.
- The Gunners have lost their past two home games in the League Cup. They have never lost three in a row at home in the competition before.
- However, they are unbeaten in their past 27 home League Cup games against sides from a lower division (W24 D3), since a 1-2 loss against Walsall in November 1983.
- The last two times Reading have reached this stage of the competition, they have been eliminated by Arsenal (losing 3-0 in November 2005 and 7-5 in October 2012).
Courtesy of Opta
4-2 to Arsenal. Lucas hat-trick and Jeff to score.
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