Can we expect another headed goal by Santi Cazorla, maybe a hattrick from the Spaniard or another 7 goals thriller? None of those are likely to happen even though it is the same Reading that we will be facing tonight. Champions League chasing side against a relegation fighting side. Both sides need the points to achieve their respective aims and tonight’s game will be a battle.
Not least because Reading have employed Nigel Adkins as their new manager. Given plenty of good will at the way he was dismissed at Southampton, it does look like he has been received well over there. Players will see the new manager in place and will try their best to impress the new boss. The presence of a new face in charge also changes the mood and morale around the club.
Injuries meant that there is a familiar figure at the other end of the pitch, in the presence of Stuart Taylor. The former Arsenal keeper has a Premier League medal with us. He came in and deputised when David Seaman spent some time out with his own injury. To be fair, Taylor did well but never look like the right material to be number 1 at a club like ours. Not even now when we are not as good as before.
We’ve got a few absentees on our end in Wilshere, Walcott and Gibbs. However the most notable one is Abou Diaby who will be out for 9 months with a cruciate ligament problem. Big blow for the big French man, who for the first time in ages, looks like he has put in injury problems behind him. One really does have to feel for Diaby and how his body is seemingly unable to cope with the demands of top level football. Even more so when we know that he’s one of the talented ones. Harsh, but the manager has to prepare the team in the future, without Diaby in mind.
What will be interesting tonight is the starting line-up. We’ve always been able to more or less predict who Arsene Wenger prefers but he has sprung a few surprises on us lately. Will Wojciech Szczesny and Thomas Vermaelen find their way back into the starting 11? I hope they don’t because the players who replaced them, have not put a foot wrong in the two matches that they were called upon to play. It would really send out the wrong message to the rest of the squad if they are dropped.
On the other hand, it gives great credit to both Szczesny and Vermaelen, who are both not throwing their toys out of the pram. They could have easily gone to the press and complain bitterly about their current situation but they didn’t. Both, have gone on record saying that they accept being sidelined but will work harder to regain back their places. I think we can all admire this type of attitude.
Fabianksi — Jenkinson — Mertesacker — Koscielny — Monreal — Ramsey — Arteta — Cazorla — Oxlade-Chamberlain — Giroud — Podolski
While Sagna is back, the case is similar to the aforementioned dropped duo. Although in this case, Sagna wasn’t dropped but was injured instead. Cruel to lose one’s spot because of an injury but that’s the way it works in football. Jenkinson has done really well, coming back into the starting line-up once again and has the momentum to carry on. Rosicky played the full 90 minutes for his country on Monday and as we saw in the NextGen game last night, tiredness becomes the big separator. Not saying that Rosicky is the same but doesn’t look like a gamble Wenger will take.
It is only fair to expect 3 points from a home match against a 19th placed team. Which is exactly the basic requirement for the team tonight. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a thrashing. We do not need to show in terms of scores, the huge difference in league standing between both sides. I’ll take a 1-0 win or a 5-0 win with the same pleasure. What is important, is that we continue to maintain our good run of form.
Come on Arsenal!