Words cannot describe the events at the Madjeski stadium last night. This game had everything, I mean everything. I really don’t know where to start, after 30 mins the overwhelming condemnation of the arsenal team was enough to send Arsene Wenger into hiding indefinitely.
Arsenal lined up with a young team, some experience was thrown in to even it up but embarrassingly we just did not get started. The pressure was on from early and I really worried at one point that we could have a repeat of the old Trafford score. We started the game so badly and it seemed that our senior players just weren’t doing enough to protect the fragile confidence of the youth.
Poor young goalkeeper Dami Martinez did his reputation no help whatsoever in the game and must hold his hand up to a couple of the goals that flew in against us last night. It’s never easy for any young player especially a keeper after making a big mistake, for all the good things he did in the game his errors will be remembered most. Arsene has a big job to do to try to rebuild his confidence and the public perception of him as after last night is wedged firmly into dodgy keeper category.
Serge Gnarby was the name on all fans lips before the game as we really wanted to see this exciting talent on show. To be honest he was quite disappointing, maybe he tried too much with the weight of expectation on his shoulders to make things happen. He will learn from this and I’m sure in a less raw team he would really shine; time is on his side.
Theo Walcott made the game his last night, whether or not he get credited with the hat-trick is not relevant. After a timid first half the young forward came to life in the dying stages of the first half to give us a glimmer of hope with an excellently dispatched goal. Running through the middle he latched onto an Arshavin through ball and made no mistake. 4-1 at half time and even then the most optimistic fans were not envisaging everything that happened after.
The real turning point in my eyes is the substitution in the second half when Giroud and Eisfeld replaced the disappointing Frimpong and Gnarbry. It really changed the game on its head as our French forward was up for it. Soon after coming on he arrowed a pinpoint header into the back of the net to make the score 4-2. A lifeline indeed and now fans were really starting to believe. Eisfeld was cool and classy in the middle of the park and it really does make you wonder why the German has not been afforded more opportunities with the first team so far.
With our new-found impetus we really took the game to reading though the threat of a goal was always there. Our defensive partnership of skipper for the night Djourou and Koscielny did not cover their selves in glory as we looked very weak at the back. Especially to balls played in the box. It’s worrying as these two are our back up centre backs and should have instilled more security for the defence. They were not helped by the baffling lack of protecting from a midfield that had 2 defensive midfielders. We actually looked more secure when Frimpong went off though I will cut the guy some slack since he has been out for a while with that injury.
Just when it was looking like reading weathered the storm up popped Koscielny to nod in a corner with 3 minutes left. Our Frenchman had an eventful night after scoring an own goal and counting himself lucky not to receive a 2nd yellow card. I believe the ref felt sympathy for him considering we looked out of the competition.
All the better for us as we reaped the benefits of his presence on the field. Once it hit injury time it was not looking good. The referee’s assistant held up the board saying 4 minutes of injury time. Reading took it upon themselves to work the ball into the corner, I really hate that and there was still plenty of time for a break. Reading did not heed the warning as we broke forward and nearly scored from a rapid counter attack. Reading again tried to work the ball in the corner to the delight of their fans however we had different things on our mind as we again broke, the ball was lofted forward in the 4th minute of injury time however the ball broke to Theo who shot at goal, the ball was half stopped on the line but continued to roll over the line. The defender kicked it out but it was clear the whole ball went over the line. Luckily Carl Jenkinson blasted the loose ball into the back of the net to make sure.
The reading backroom staff were livid especially the recently substituted Jason Roberts but they only have themselves to blame. We pulled off a remarkable comeback to take the game into extra time. Funnily enough someone forgot to mention that to Giroud and Coquelin as they threw their shirts into the crowd at the final whistle. They were ordered to go and get their shirts back, luckily the fans gave them back.
Onto extra time and now it only looked like there would be only one winner now, the psychological blow reading must have felt left them as lambs to the slaughter. Now we were able to get into our stride and play our game at our pace, there was no need to panic and rush things and eventually we went ahead.
Our very own Chamakh decided to remind fans he was on the pitch with a quite well taken goal from outside the box. Now we were ahead it was a standard formality we would go on and close the game. Reading had other ideas and mustered up an equalising goal from a ball lofted in the box. We really looked like conceding every time the ball was lofted in. luckily for us we pulled it together and with the clock running down penalties looked on the cards. With about 2 minutes to go Andrei Arshavin who had a hot and cold game drove at the reading defence when the space opened for him he drilled in a shot which was blocked on the line, the ricochet flew straight to Theo Walcott’s boot who couldn’t miss. He dispatched the ball into the back of the net and the game it seemed was won. What a magnificent comeback, the awesome away fans who sang from start to end really deserved the comeback.
Reading rallied for the last minute of extra time throwing the ball into the box at every opportunity, this time we stood firm and from a break Chamakh was free against the keeper who was well off his line. With a sublime dink over Federici’s head the ball was over the line and we had pulled of a 7-5 win.
What a win, what a comeback, I don’t think I have ever experienced such a crazy game before. The 4-4 against Newcastle was unique but this game took it to a whole new level with 12 goals in total.
Arsene in his post match press conference stated:
“We went from disaster to, I must say at least at some stage, pride”
That was a pretty much fair evaluation. It was a complete disaster and I was close to turning the tv off and going to bed, Walcott’s goal gave us hope and we really battled hard to come back. In the end I was proud of the efforts considering, there will be a lot of evaluation back at London Colney to discuss what had happened last night. We turned it around but we cannot rely on us scoring 7 goals to get us out of a hole again. This was a freak game and unlikely to happen again for a long time, im just glad for once we were the comeback kings.
Enjoy your day people.
Please feel free to like the Facebook page for regular updates of the blog.