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Arsenal versus Reading: A Royal Flush

bill-oddie

I don’t know what Arsène wanted for his birthday, there is in any case little about this most cerebral of football managers to suggest he is particularly motivated by material possessions. I’ll bet he didn’t have a nil nil draw with Middlesbrough particularly high on the list though.

Fortunately we weren’t the only club with a little bit European hangover at the weekend and the players have the opportunity to present their boss with a belated gift much more to his liking. Reading are the visitors tonight and they will be looking for their first victory against Arsenal, a victory which would surely rank among the great cup surprises were they to pull it off. We’ve played ten won ten against the boys from Berkshire and scored thirty five goals along the way – seven of those coming when last we met them in this very competition.

Whilst that crazy game has been on people’s minds of late I’ve been enjoying memories of Alexis Sanchez’s winner in the FA Cup semi final. I don’t know what it is about the football fan’s plumbless appetite for schadenfreude but there is a particular pleasure to be derived from winning with precisely the species of goal by which we would most hate to lose.

Hopefully Reading won’t still be chafing about Gabriel’s handball – overlooked by the ref with the scores at one all, nor that Alexis pass back to Adam Federici which somehow ended in the back of the keeper’s net. It’s possible they may be motivated by such historical considerations but somehow I doubt it. Like Arsenal they will draw inspiration from looking at the fourth round fixtures, thinking to themselves that a few decent sides will be absent from the last eight.

The matches have fallen in such a way to guarantee that three from Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, Man City, Man United and West Ham will be going out of the competition this week, leaving a potentially enticing quarter final for this evening’s winner. Of course I hope it will be Arsenal. In fact, you’re probably wondering why I feel the need to say that at all.

There are, you see, some among us who would be quite content to leave the League Cup to other people. Too many fixtures they cry, too many other competitions needful of our attention to worry about the Mickey Mouse tournament. Odd that it is Mickey who has become synonymous with things deemed unimportant and trifling. Why I wonder of all  Disney’s creations should the most venerable of his animated stars be so derided by association? From now on I think you should refer to the League Cup as a Chicken Little of a tournament, but even if you do I still love it.

There is far less pressure surrounding the games so that awful dread of defeat doesn’t eat the stomach lining in the same corrosive fashion as it does during league or FA Cup ties. There are sneak previews of great young players like Jazzy-Jeff Reine-Adelaide to look forward to. There are first team fringe players like Kieran Gibbs and Gabriel, Noddy Holding and Corporal Jenks all of whom I really like and want to watch. And, gosh darn it, when all is said and done there is a trip to Wembley and a trophy at the end of it no matter how much of a Jiminy Cricket Cup you might consider it to be.

Arsène has rather taken the wind out the sails of us football blog artists by revealing much of his team in advance. The name which most excited me was of course Olivier Giroud. Our Gallic heartthrob has been sorely missed lately. Never more so than when we needed a different kind of threat against ‘boro at the weekend. His defensive work from corners and his aerial threat from crosses are always a massive plus but love him as I do the manager was cagey over what part he will play, merely saying “I think Olivier will be included”.

He went on in much less equivocal style where others were concerned saying “Gabriel, Holding, Jenkinson will play. Jeff Reine-Adelaide will play, I think Iwobi, Lucas, Oxlade-Chamberlain will also play. Gibbs – who captained the team at Forest – will do it again on Tuesday.” Factor in that Martinez will certainly start in goal and that’s nine of the eleven starters already down. I’ll leave the other two places for you to argue over, I’m content to wait. I’ll be happy if Olivier comes through unscathed. With him and Aaron coming back into contention the squad begins to look very strong indeed.

Our visitors’ form is a mish-mash right now.They win a couple, lose one, draw a couple, lose one and win one, which is a stark contrast to our long unbeaten run. Their manager Jaap Stam (yes that Jaap Stam – come on do you know any other Jaap Stams?) has made all the right noises, those you’d expect him to make and their squad is not without premier league experience. Captain Paul McShane has played for three top flight clubs and has thirty three caps for the Republic of Ireland, Chris Gunter will be familiar to all who followed Aaron and his mates as they frolicked through to the  semi finals of the European Championships, and Tyler Blackett and Stephen Quinn are similarly experienced at a higher level.

Our side will, necessarily, be less familiar with one another and therein lies Reading’s best hope of progressing to the next round. As we discovered in Sheffield this time last year a blend of youth and experience, no matter how strong in theory,  can come unstuck against determined, united opposition. The difference this year is, I believe, the strength of our squad. The guys pulling on the shirt tonight have a real incentive to impress their manager especially as the first team are doing so well.

That Wednesday match was significant chiefly for the injuries we suffered to both Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott rather than the disappointment of the result. Losing two such similar players at such a stage in the season had a huge impact and it is only recently that either player has returned to full form and fitness. So let’s hope for a relaxing, enjoyable evening, above all no injuries please, and if we can maintain our one hundred percent record against The Royals then I shall go to bed a happy man tonight.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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96 comments on “Arsenal versus Reading: A Royal Flush

  1. Per said last week that he has not set a return date as its still a long way off but that his recovery is going very well, and that he is building up the muscles in his legs again.

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  2. Half Times

    Arsenal 1 – 0 Reading
    Bristol City 0 – 1 Hull City
    Leeds United 1 – 1 Norwich City
    Liverpool 1 – 0 Tottenham Hotspur
    Newcastle United 2 – 0 Preston North End

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  3. Cheers Ed!

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  4. Lucky Perez is brewing…

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  5. Come on Larry! The Chickens 2-0 down now.

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  6. 65 minutes – jeff off, ollie on

    lfc 2-0 thfc

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  7. Giroud causing grief already.

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  8. 71 minutes – injured lucas off, willock on

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  9. Another really poor challenge goes unpunished and Perez gets crocked FFS

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  10. Hope Lucky is alright, Chris Willock is potentially great player…

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  11. Beefy with a Hutchinson!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. See Holding go on the wing? What a player.

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  13. ox with a pile driver to make it 2-0, but a special mention must go to the mazy run made by Holding in the build up

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Noddys a good prospect for sure. Well played he Beef,

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  15. So we return to consistency again. If Xhaka’s was a red what the fuck was that foul on Giroud worth? 2 reds?

    Liked by 3 people

  16. 80 minutes – ox off, zelalem on

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  17. Alex ‘Beefy’ Chamberlain (or Bovril as I believe he’s known) is in such good form, some first teamers must be looking over their shoulders right now.

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  18. Beefy the bovver! He bovvers the fuck out of the opposition!

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  19. See Iwobi take that high ball down? Kid is the real deal isn’t he?

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Jenks look fit and raring to go, good to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Come on Larry give us a goal!

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  22. Gabriel’s timing has been wanting on more than one occasion this evening.

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  23. we have a fine third choice keeper

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Fine, fine save from Martinez.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Arsenal’s record v Reading
    Pld W D L F A
    14 14 0 0 41 13

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Good night out for the Gunners, Shotts winning streak starts again, nice work from the Bovril. Jenks in good form,Noddy and Martini time looking good.
    Great stuff.Night lads till tomorra,
    Cheers!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. FT: 2-0

    done all we had to do, controlled it for the most part, ox with two fine strikes, martinez with a great save near the end, he also impressed with the ball at his feet. Great to see Jenkinson back, and he looked very fit, was still motoring well right to the end. Jeff showed silky skills, but was not up to the pace of the game, maitland-niles impressed me, cool calm play, and not afraid to take a shot. Holding impressed again, and his mazy run in build up to second goal was great, Giroud is back, and he had the assist for the second goal.

    Liked by 4 people

  28. of the other winners tonight, would not mind a home game v newcastle or hull, either that or home v the winners of leeds v norwich

    lfc knocked out thfc, 2-1

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Paddy Power ‏@paddypower 40m40 minutes ago
    MASSIVE chance for glory for the Spurs youngster, and he bottles it.

    He’ll fit right in at the club.

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  30. Squawka Football ‏@Squawka 50m50 minutes ago
    This is now Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s highest goalscoring season for Arsenal with 5 goals.

    We’re only in October!

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  31. Into my last days of a Canarian holiday and seems appropriate that the hotel’s entertainment this evening features a Liverpool tribute band playing Hey Jude.
    But what a dull lot compared with two nights ago when we had the Stones strutting their stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Tottenham Hotspur ‏@SpursOfficial 10h10 hours ago
    ❔ DID YOU KNOW? ❔
    #COYS

    Liked by 3 people

  33. Ahmed ‏@Ahmed91Gooner 2h2 hours ago
    Arsenal’s last (8) games = (7) clean sheets! 👐🏼⚽️

    2-0
    0-0
    6-0
    3-2
    1-0
    2-0
    3-0
    4-0

    Osman ‏@OsmanZtheGooner 2h2 hours ago
    14 Games this season for #Arsenal
    8 Clean sheets so far (4 for Cech, 2 for Ospina and 2 for Martinez)

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  34. ΜċGεε ‏@Labo_Goon 3h3 hours ago
    The only thing Ox and Theo ever needed were injury free runs. Talented players who’s growth are slowed down by enabled assaults

    Liked by 2 people

  35. I can’t say I saw all of the game, had a dodgy stream.
    Firstly well done to Martinez and a scratch back four.
    In Particular a very decent 90 minutes from Carl Jenkinson and the always Impressive looking Rob Holding. Gabriel and Gibbs were reliable too.
    From what I saw the Ox’s performance was patchy but that could have been my stream.
    Ollie G came on and looked strong – very good.

    We are in the QF, Spurs are not. A good night’s work.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. ‘OX HAS ADDED BELIEF TO HIS FINISHING’

    Arsène Wenger was full of praise for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after the England international scored twice in the 2-0 win against Reading on Tuesday night.
    The Ox now has five goals to his name this season, his most prolific yet, and the boss had this to say about him:

    on whether Oxlade-Chamberlain’s confidence is coming back…
    Sometimes you felt like he didn’t deserve to score when he was in front of goal before. Now, I think he has added some belief to his finishing. Now we have hope that whenever he has the ball, something can happen. He’s powerful but he also finishes well and he’s added that to his game. That’s certainly linked with confidence, hard work in training, and he looks to be following Theo Walcott in that way.

    on competition between Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain lifting both…
    They are lifting each other but they can also play on both flanks.

    on how far away Oxlade-Chamberlain is from starting regularly…
    He’s not a long way away from the starting XI because he played against Ludogorets, he played here which was expected, but Ludogorets was a very important game. He came on against Middlesbrough on Saturday and I feel that he is regularly involved.

    on what has changed for him…
    He is not a young player anymore, he is now 23 and at 23 you become a football player who is the finished article. Before 23, you learn your job. At 23, you become more consistent, you know what’s expected of you, you know how to deal with the pressure, with the situation, with the competition inside the squad. But he was so talented, so young. In the national team, so young. People forget that he was still a young player.

    on whether there was a moment when he changed…
    As a person? I think the quality of his concentration, of his focus, is sharper. He is more determined and he has worked a lot mentally you know, to be really focused and I think it comes out every day in training and now it is starting to come out in the games.

    Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20161025/-ox-has-added-belief-to-his-finishing-#vjO3aKGJv4Y3wybw.99

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  37. WENGER ON THE WIN, YOUNGSTERS, JENKINSON

    Arsène Wenger was a satisfied man after his side beat Reading 2-0 to progress to the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup on Tuesday night.
    The Arsenal manager discussed the performance, how some of the youngsters fared, and Carl Jenkinson’s return.

    on the win…
    It was a dynamic game between two teams who tried to play passing football and build up the game from the back. For me, it was also good to see some young players who practise every day with a top team, and also give them a chance with the other players who needed competition. It was positive. It was an interesting game which we were able to win in a comfortable way in the second half.

    on which youngsters impressed…
    I felt that Rob Holding did well and also Ainsley Maitland-Niles, he did well. Jeff Reine-Adelaide did alright too.

    on Carl Jenkinson…
    It’s fantastic to see him back. I don’t count him as a young player but he did well, he played 90 minutes and had no fitness problems at all. That means he’s prepared well physically. He’s played with the under-23s and we have had no problems with him physically at all.

    on midfielders weighing in with goals…
    It’s a little bit down to the quality of our collective game and some of it is down to the fact that they are a bit more confident. When the team gets more positive results everybody is a bit more relaxed and the tension is something that goalscorers don’t like. You need to be relaxed to finish.

    on Alex Iwobi in the No 10 position…
    You see, he is not a typical winger and I think he can play in that role. He turns the game forward, he passes the ball through the lines very well. He has a final ball in him. He is now a little bit, I think he has it all in the locker to pass and give the final ball. What you want from him now is the finishing, you know. That’s still a little part that is missing in his game. I think he is too nervous at the moment when he has the possibility to finish.

    on how he makes sure everyone gets enough minutes…
    Look, if we stay in all the competitions, it’s not too difficult. And that’s a positive of qualifying tonight. We have always targets and the players who, for example, we have three top class goalkeepers, because you see Emi Martinez as well. But as long as we are in this competition, he obviously gets his game so they have a focus, something to focus on.

    Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20161025/wenger-on-the-win-youngsters-jenkinson#oCfE5JYaWHmq4Csv.99

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  38. In the QF final draw tomorrow night:
    Arsenal
    Liverpool
    Hull
    Leeds
    Newcastle

    Winners of Manchester Utd vs Manchester city.
    Winners if West Ham vs Chelsea.
    Winners of Southampton vs Sunderland.

    There is no seeding, one leg tie, either hone or away draw.

    If I was a tv producer I’ll be trying to get Newcastle vs sunlun, Leeds vs Utd, pool vs Chelsea, hull bs Arsenal.

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  39. arsenal v leeds would be good

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  40. our next eflc game is between the Bornmouth homr game and the West Ham away game

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  41. Megs Wilson ‏@Meg5W 5h5 hours ago
    Now that’s what you call a selfie @BobWilsonBWSC

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  42. New post up

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  43. the league cup is inferior though, it’s not as prestigious and is a hindrance.

    it would be nice to win, but given the choice between the Premier League, Champions League or even the FA Cup and the League Cup, then the League Cup is less value. i personally think they should get rid of it, but that’s by the by. it’s good to beat Reading, but it’s only Reading, let’s put it in perspective.

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