Arsenal – Reading: Not The EPL, But Equally Important

Tuesday’s EFL match between Arsenal and Reading will give Arsene Wenger a chance to rotate his squad, while also giving some of the lads a breather. Their lack of inspiration on Saturday was proof that they could use a break. But, when we talk about giving some of the regulars a day off, one could argue that the squad Arsenal will have out there could still compete with most in the Premier League. That is the beauty of finally having a squad with depth, and limited injuries. Hopefully I didn’t just jinx us.

At Arsenal’s AGM on Monday, apart from Arsene Wenger’s tone of voice hinting that this will be his last year, the Frenchman also reiterated his desire to compete on all fronts this season.

“Our challenge is to compete for everything, starting (on Tuesday) in the League Cup,” he said.

“Even if you see some new faces, our desire is to qualify and fight for everything because I believe we have a squad that is more mature and better equipped to cope with all the challenges we have.

“I am committed to give my best to ensure we are successful at the end of the season.”

You heard Le Prof, he wants to compete on all fronts, therefore, the lads should be ready to put in a performance against Reading, which hasn’t been an issue in past years.

Who Will We See

We all know the EFL Cup is a perfect time to rotate, and Le Prof will do just that. The squad looked out of energy at the weekend, and with the amount of contention within the starting XI, this is a great opportunity for most. Are you not happy with the amount of playing time you’ve been getting? Well, go out there and prove that you deserve more opportunities. Yes Ox, I’m talking to you!

Arsene has already announced that Rob Holding and Gabriel will feature at the heart of the defense. They certainly aren’t at the level of Kostafi, but I think they’ll both make a solid pairing. Gabriel likes to live more on the edge, take more risks, where as Holding is patient, and can sit deeper looking to clean up the mess when needed. Sounds like a perfect match if you ask me, now all we need is to come up with a cool nickname for them.

Arsenal Celebrating Against Nottingham Forest

Carl Jenkinson also looks destined to feature, which is exciting, but makes you wonder what Debuchy is doing with all this free time. Talk about simply collecting a paycheck. I actually had high hopes for him, but then one Hector Bellerin came flying onto the scene, no pun intended, but literally, he came in hot! Jenko will be excited to get back out there, and hopefully he can put in a solid performance. Should easily be Bellerin’s backup if in form.

Lucas Perez should also lead the line, after a solid performance mid-week against Ludogorets, and he looked good after coming on against Middlesbrough. The Spaniard has done well for himself, but as he’s already mentioned, patience is key. No one likes a guy who expects to come straight into the squad without earning it.

Another motivating factor for Perez to put in a good shift will be the fact that Olivier Giroud will be available.

The French international has been struggling with some minor injuries, but will finally get a chance on Tuesday. Will be good to see Oli back out there. We sure as hell could have used him on Saturday. One thing to look for is how Lucas Perez would do out wide, playing off Giroud’s holdup play. That is if they get the chance to feature together.

Regardless of who features, there are no excuses to not get through to the next round!

Arsenal Looking To Make It 10 For 10

Alright fellow Gooners, this is no attempt to disrespect Reading, but there is absolutely NO REASON why Arsenal shouldn’t get through to the next round. Dating back to 2005, Arsenal have met Reading in the League Cup / Capital One Cup / Carling Cup or whatever the hell else you want to call it two other times.

In 2005, the Gunners came away with a 3-0 victory. Then in 2012, we all certainly recall that match. I remember it like it was yesterday, and if you don’t, please have a look at the highlights below. For those of you who didn’t watch and weren’t on the verge of a mental breakdown, be thankful because it will have made you age at least five years.

We were down 4-0 within 36 minutes, against Reading! I sat in my living room, lights off, on a cold October evening and wondered how much worst that match would get. Fortunately, it all worked out in the end, and to make it even more memorable, Chamakh got the two goals in extra-time. Marouane Freaken Chamakh people. I almost forgot he played for Arsenal, and then I saw a picture of him last week signing for Cardiff and couldn’t believe my eyes. If you haven’t seen a recent picture of him, please spend the 30 seconds and Google it. You can thank me later.

Like I was saying, Arsenal tends to do well against Reading. From their last nine meetings dating back to 2005 across all domestic competitions, the Gunners have won all nine. With 11 goals scored and 32 conceded, these numbers don’t look promising for Jaap Stam’s squad. They’ve won one of their last five in the Championship, so it’s going to take an epic performance to leave North London with a ticket into the quarter-finals.

Predicting The Future

As we get into the cooler months of the season, and since we are all big fans of seeing Arsene Wenger struggle to zip his big puffy coat, we are always curious to know if he’ll pull it out of his closet. Looking at Tuesday’s weather, it looks like it will be about 11 degrees at the time of kick-off. That means it will be a cool evening at the Emirates, so I’m predicting that we will see Arsene Wenger in his big puffy coat, but hopefully he will have Steve Bould zip it for him before coming down the tunnel.

As for the match, like I said, there’s no reason why Arsenal shouldn’t come away with a ticket into the next round in hand. Yes, we’ve seen them come up short in years past, but I just can’t see it happening this time around. Although there will be a good amount of changes in personnel, I’m going with a 3-0 victory for the Gunners, with Giroud and Lucas Perez scoring. Not sure on the third goal, but I’ll go out on a limb and say Ox gets his second in as many appearances.

What’s your prediction? As always, share your thoughts in the comments below.