Arsenal vs Reading Preview: That time of the year again

After a much needed break from the English Premier League we now move to a competition where we get to witness the next generation of gunners and some players just getting back their fitness. It is the cup where we shall not utter its name…….oh wait it’s name has changed again, now its the Capital One Cup! After a hard fought and grueling 1-0 victory over QPR (and making Jamie Mackie look like the alien Messi) we now shift our focus to…………Reading. Reading are a newly promoted club, they are soft in the hearts of EPL fans all over as they are tipped for relegation this season (not doing much to dispel that prediction so far!) but we should not underestimate this team as they’ve showed that they can be ruthless when given the chance! Let’s take a closer look at the match up we have with our gunners against the royals:

When we look at Reading we have to look at what led them to being promoted in the first place. It was because of a great balance in the team along with a solid mentality to break teams down slowly and work from there, but this season’s Reading is an up and down team. While I was watching the Reading vs Fulham game over the weekend (a must watch for those who missed it) I realized what a team Reading can be if a team decides to switch off defensively on several occasions (sound familar?). In terms of tactics towards the beginning of the season they used a 4-4-1-1 system but now have switched to a 4-4-2 (which they utilized against Fulham) and the effects seem to be showing for the better rather than worst. Reading use their wide play(and the strikers), to in a sense, pull defenders in and then try to employ their middle players to attempt scoring from midfield, which is smart in a sense because you wouldn’t expect midfielders to be the ones trying to score. Reading will try to take advantage of the fact that we will be fielding a younger side that is trying to progress to the next round, the advantage to Reading is that the game is being played at the Madejski stadium where they will have not only home field advantage but a 12th man in the Reading supporters. Looking at what Reading can do to Fulham (and assuming that they will be fielding a strong side) our boys will need to be on there toes as the strong strikers of Reading will put an output pressure from the get go and will maintain this pressure on us throughout. The midfield of Reading is a concern because their main focus is to score and players like Danny Gutherie (who did not start last game but may start this game) can provide that. The other thing to note about Reading is that they’re strong in the set piece play and put bodies in the box, something that Arsenal have to be wary about.

Predicted Reading line up:





*unknown whether he’ll start yet

Danger man for Reading: Pavel Pogrebnyak, not only will have he an aerial advantage against our defenders but he’ll be a threat in front of goal as well. He had the scoring touch playing for Fulham but has yet to find it at Reading, let’s not be the reason the Pog goes on a goal scoring run.

That’s Reading in a heartbeat and how they’ll approach this game but let’s take a closer look on what Arsenal will do and how they’ll approach this game. Really we have to expect the unexpected in terms of lineup because we usually experiment with tactics and youth players trying to make a name for themselves. What we can expect is a midfield composed of Nico Yennaris (who seemingly is flourishing as a holding midfielder) and Frimpong who is still making a succesful return from injury. The others could be a toss up but knowing that the U-21 team just played and featured the likes of Angha, Olsson, Toral, and Hayden, we can rule them out. Miquel, Eisfeld, Meade, Gnabry, Miquel and Yennaris are all expected to start if you put one and one together with their exclusion from the squad. Looking at which senior members will start the obvious ones would be the now fit Wojciech Szczesny and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and joining them would most likey be Chamakh (who hasn’t had many games this season), Arshavin, Jenkinson and Djourou.

Predicted line up for the Reading game:






Key player from Arsenal: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, his dribbling and pace will be threatening for the Reading defense from start to finish.

Facts about the game:

-Arsenal have the best defense in the EPL this season conceding only 8 goals

-Reading have yet to win a EPL game this season drawing 4 games and losing 4

Prediction for the game: depending on who we field I think it’ll be a close 2-1 or 1-0 game. Potentially could even go to Penalties if everything happens to fall apart.

Final thoughts before the game: Arsenal have every chance of stealing a win here but Reading can be put in the same boat as well. It will be a good match with our players being tested. Let’s go, COYG

Closing comments by Brian McDermott:

“It’s my first time as a first-team manager playing against them, 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.”

Match Preview: Norwich City vs Arsenal F.C.

So, off to Carrow Road to play out of form Norwich City after this incredibly dull interlull and I must say, I think this is the perfect team to be playing against after the break. A team that we should be able to punish and blow out the international break cobwebs against provided our team turns up on the day. So let’s look at what we can expect to see from this one.

Norwich are currently 19th on the table and have shipped more goals than any team in the league conceding 17 in just 7 games. They typically set up in a 4-4-1-1 formation similar to our own and prefer a short passing game, usually attacking down the right wing through the combination play of Jackson and Snodgrass before crossing the ball into the box often to try and create chances and smother the goalbox clearances. They are a team that is not shy about shooting and have scored a couple of decent range goals, although happily the majority of their efforts fly wide, averaging only about 25-30% of all shots on target, their lead scorer Grant Holt has only 2 so far. The best news for our defense however is that they haven’t scored any goals from set pieces which our team is particularly vulnerable to.

Offensively we can hurt them a lot. Norwich play an offside trap which quite frankly, is suicide against the pace of our team even with Theo Walcott currently injured. Despite their lack of success Norwich are a team that likes to come out and play rather than park the bus and cower in their own half (particularly when playing at home) and this will play into our hands. Our lightning fast counter-attack play should be easily able to give them a torrid time. Norwich are not a physical side and are poor at retaining possession averaging only 42% possession so far and prone to individual errors which also benefits us and I would expect our midfield to completely control the game and dictate play through Arteta and Cazorla. So far this season they have been largely hurt by attacks down the wings so expect to see our potent left wing attack up to it’s usual tricks, the downside of this being that Kieran Gibbs will most likely not feature due to the injury sustained against the brutes of West Ham United.

Formation-wise expect to see Arsenal in their shiny new 4-4-1-1 setup with most of the usual suspects in place. As I mentioned Gibbs is doubtful for this encounter so expect to see Santos at Left Back provided he’s not booked for speeding on the way to the stadium(take the bus mate).¬† Let us hope he can provide the attacking sting that Gibbs has given us recently. Koscielny like-wise may be recovering from the small knock he took while on international duty and coupled with his dip in form in his last two matches, he’s unlikely to feature in this one. With Szczesny still injured Mannone will continue as first choice Keeper and with Diaby still out the third midfield position is up for grabs. Norwich are rather poor at preventing shots from range so I’d like to see the combination of Arteta, Cazorla and either Ramsey or Chamberlain (2 players not afraid to shoot) to give us an extra scoring option if the opponent is proving stubborn, however Wenger may choose to put his faith in Coquelin instead. Also, owing to Giroud’s excellent efforts for France (sticking it to Spain) and the fact that Norwich are weak at winning aerial duels I’d like to see him given the nod at Centre Forward to muscle up on their defence and dominate the opposition’s goalbox. Gervinho has been excellent in the Center Forward role but with Walcott not on the subs bench I’d like to see him start at Right Wing. Lastly, I’m sure I’m not the only one who would LOVE to see Jack Wilshere given 10 minutes or so towards the end of the match if his fitness is up to it.

Norwich City Danger Men: Jackson, Snodgrass and Holt.

Result Prediction: Conservative because of the interlull: 1-3 Arsenal. More goals and defensive shutout if our team plays well.

Expected lineup: 4-4-1-1 formation – Mannone, Santos, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Jenkinson, Podolski, Arteta, Ramsey, Gervinho, Cazorla, Giroud.

Conclusion: This is a game we should win and win well. I will be doing a post-match breakdown of the game after the weekend, till then let’s get behind the team. COME ON YOU GUNNERS!