Arsenal test fans faith with 12 goal thriller against Reading

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.

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Reading FC next up, Szczesny to start? AFC

Capital one cup tonight, many of the first team will be afforded a rest ahead of the premiership trip to Old Trafford this Saturday. Arsene’s line up is likely to include a number of fringe players in need of vital match practise while a few younger more raw players will be utilized from the bench. We have a high number of fringe players more used to first team action that can provide the necessary experience for a cup game like this. Reading will be no push over and the policy of fielding a team with the majority youngsters has been relaxed over the past couple seasons.

Although the capital one cup is way down the managers list of priorities to achieve each season there is still an element of seriousness in preparation for the competition. Arsene fields the teams he feels can win the games they play by ensuring the right balance between experience and youth is struck. In the home ties there are more opportunities to field more youth as the occasion and buzz from the crowd can have a positive effect on their performance. In away ties the pressure is a lot different and the younger players have to be in Arsene’s eyes up for the challenge.

Reading is far from an easy game, they are a premiership level team now and will be highly motivated to progress in the competition. The relationship between arsenal and reading has been a good one over the years; many young players have experienced loan spells at the club to further their development. Steven Sidwell made a permanent transfer to the club after a good loan deal there and most recently Benik Afobe enjoyed the promotion experience after joining the club on loan towards the tail end of last season.

The game tonight will be a chance for players such as Andrei Arshavin, Johan Djourou and Theo Walcott to stake a claim for inclusion to the squad for Saturday. Theo is likely to receive the opportunity to play in his favoured role to continue his ongoing battle of proving his worth as a central striker. Arshavin has the opportunity to earn a role in the team now that a void has been created by the injury to Gervinho. There has still been no official clarification of the injury to Gervinho. At the game on Saturday he seemed to pull up after planting a cross from the byline. He hobbled off the pitch and as the game carried on the medical team spent quite a bit of time tending to the Ivorian. He was eventually taken from the field of play on a stretcher. Arshavin impressed in parts in the last round against Coventry and a repeat tonight will definitely put him in contention.

Ignasi Miquel and Johan Djourou are likely to continue their partnership at the back whilst Carl Jenkinson may get a run out after losing his place to Sagna on Saturday. Serge Gnarbry is likely to get more minutes on the pitch to impress the gunners faithful. Wenger clearly likes the boy and the capital one cup is the perfect platform to showcase his talent; he is likely to be joined at some point by his german compatriot Thomas Eisfeld.

Eisfeld is probably one who has yet to be given many chances to play first team football this season, after impressing with some goal scoring displays for the first team in pre-season I half expected more opportunities for the German. Understandably the role he plays is fully stocked in the first team squad so chances like tonight need to be utilised to remind the manager of his potential.

One possible surprise in tonight’s line up is the return of Szczesny. Although Dami Martinez warrants an opportunity to play against Reading the chance to blood our Polish keeper in some first team action may be too tempting to ignore. Sczcesny joined the squad for training yesterday and being a keeper the fitness side of his game is not as essential as say a midfielder. The old Trafford game on Saturday may be in sight for our number one so do not be surprised if he is named in the team tonight. This would be a massive boost for the team, the fans and all concerned with arsenal. No disrespect to Vito Mannone who has had some good games for us but it is quite clear he is not ready to wrestle the number one jersey from our Polish stopper.

Emmanuel Frimpong is likely to start the game to continue his rehabilitation from injury. Our Ghanaian Hardman will relish the opportunity to play in this game and is in no rush to force his way into the first team. The two injuries he suffered over the past two seasons are enough for him to be cautious and not rush back and risk breaking down again. I for one hope that he is over the big injuries and can now kick on to the next stage and fulfil the potential he showed before injuries. It all starts from tonight. Although slightly nervous of the outcome of the tie it is not impossible for us to gain a win. Reading although likely to contain more of their premiership line up can still be beaten. We have enough quality and experience to give as good as we get. Come on you gunners!

Enjoy your day people.

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