Final Score [AET]
Reading 5 - 7 Arsenal
A routine Capital One Cup match between Reading & Arsenal gradually turned out to be one of the games of the season. Arsenal were preparing for a tough away game at Old Trafford on the weekend, and needed a win to boost confidence. And boy did they get it.
Arsenal arrived at the Madejski Stadium with a mixture of youth and second string players. A combination that has proved relatively successful in the League cup for Arsene Wenger. However, Reading turned up ready to cause an upset. And as the game got going, Arsenal struggled to keep up with the energetic Royals.[quote_right]”His first touch was faultless, and as he entered the box, he calmly lifted the ball over the oncoming goalkeeper. A splendid finish, and a glimmer of hope before half time.”[/quote_right]
Soon, the unexplainable happened. After a combination of ridiculously poor defending and excellent attacking prowess, Reading found themselves three goals to the good within just twenty minutes. Roberts & Leighterwood got one each, accompanied by a poor own goal by Laurent Koscielny.
As half time approached, Reading added to their tally through Noel Hunt, and it immediately became evident that a traditional Arsenal comeback was completely off the cards. As Reading celebrated, Arsenal fans began to leave the stadium.
Thankfully, Theo Walcott had other plans. Andrei Arshavin played a through ball between the centre halves, where Walcott had made an excellent run. His first touch was faultless, and as he entered the box, he calmly lifted the ball over the oncoming goalkeeper. A splendid finish, and a glimmer of hope before half time.
[title]The RollerCoaster Begins[/title]
The second half was nothing less than a rollercoaster. Arsenal had a three goal deficit to close, and Reading were determined to hold on to their lead. It was going to be tough, and the only proven player on our bench was Olivier Giroud. Who was eventually subbed on alongside Thomas Eisfeld.
Giroud came off the bench and immediately looked dangerous. He plucked the ball out of the air and laid out a few neat passes. A touch of class had been introduced, and we needed it desperately. We soon won a corner, which was whipped in by Theo Walcott onto the Frenchman’s head, and he guided it home perfectly. Game on.
[quote_left]”Euphoria. Arsenal had somehow managed to claw their way back from 4 goals down.”[/quote_left]For the rest of the half, Reading battled fiercely. However, on the stroke of the 89th minute, Koscielny made up for his own goal by heading another corner. Arsenal were just a goal away from extra time.
Four minutes were added on, and the game was all but over. However, as the referee was poised to blow his whistle, a long ball to Marouane Chamakh was headed down to Theo Walcott, who’s shot crossed the line to make it 4-4. Euphoria. Arsenal had somehow managed to claw their way back from 4 goals down.
Extra time was another spectacle to behold. Marouane Chamakh netted his first goal in 14 months from outside the box to put Arsenal ahead just before the break. Arsenal looked to be cruising now. However,the second half of extra time saw substitute Pogrebnyak head Reading level yet again. Nervousness at the prospect of penalties were looming within the squad an amongst the fans.
One man however, wasn’t feeling the pressure. Andrei Arshavin made a surging run into the Reading box, belting a shot towards goal. The shot was blocked, and fell to the superb Theo Walcott, who blasted it home to win it for Arsenal. A sensational moment which He’ll remember for years to come.
And it wasn’t over there. Following a mistake by a Reading defender, Chamakh was able to lob the goalkeeper by some distance, to seal it for the Gunners. A classy finish to a manic football match. It truly was a miracle at the Madejski.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
A night to forget for Martinez. Made one or two good stops, but did awfully when coming for crosses. Flapped at the ball and was to blame for the third Reading goal.
A real class act. Replaced by Sagna in the first team, but won’t be far behind after another solid performance. Oozes passion.
Poorly positioned for most of the Reading goals, and failed to organise his less experienced colleagues. Somehow was chosen as captain.
An extremely poor show from the Frenchman. Needs to step up if he wants to oust Mertesacker. Scored two goals, one in the wrong net. Almost sent off.
A hap-hazard performance from the young Spaniard. Wasn’t helped much by Arshavin, but didn’t show any defensive solidity either. Went off injured.
An excellent game from the youngster. sat in front of the back four and made some great challenges. Needs to concentrate more if he is to break into the first team.
first game back from injury, and you can;t complain too much. Distributed the ball well enough, and made some good tackles. Subbed.
A quiet game for Gnabry. Played centrally but failed to make anything happen in the final third. Made a superb last-ditch challenge to save us conceding yet again in the second half. Subbed.
Worked hard for the team throughout the game, and was involved in almost all the goals scored. Certainly better than Gervinho. Also managed to complete 120mins of football. Impressive from the ‘lazy’ Russian.
MOTM. Simply fantastic. Not only did he grab a Hattrick of goals, but also a Hattrick of assists. Worked tirelessly for the entire game and created chance after chance. Sign him up Wenger!
Despite a few misplaced passes, the Moroccan did well. He worked hard for the team and managed to score twice, helping Arsenal secure the victory. Played a pivotal part in setting up Walcott’s last-minute equalizer.
Changed the game. Scored a fantastic header minutes after coming on, and came close to scoring a hattirck of his own. A definite starter against Man Utd.
A youngster with real promise. Sat at the head of our midfield and dictated play beautifully. His passing ability is mature beyond his years. Big, big future.
A truly epic encounter at the Madjeski Stadium. Arsenal looked down and out in the first half, but great performances from Walcott, Arshavin, Giroud helped secure a miraculous victory, allowing Arsenal to progress to the next round.
Scoring seven goals away from home can never be a bad thing just before you travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United. Despite our team inevitably changing dramamtically, the confidence will remain. Giroud & Walcott simply must start. Bring it on.
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