The Madejski Stadium sees Reading face Arsenal once more just six weeks after the two side’s amazing Capital One Cup fourth round clash, which saw the home side go 4-0 up only for Arsenal, inspired by a Theo Walcott hat trick and brace from Marouane Chamakh, to take the tie 7-5 after extra-time.
While it is unlikely such a scoreline is to be repeated, Brian McDermott’s Royals will need to go on the offensive having slipped to the bottom of the Premier League after seeing QPR secure their first win of the season at home to Fulham on the weekend. Reading are on a run of five consecutive league losses and will be wary that with 16 games played already, time is already running out for them to secure their Premier League status.
McDermott may have strike duo Jason Roberts and Pavel Pogrebnyak to choose from once again, although he will remain without influential midfielder Jimmy Kebe, Jem Karacan and defender Sean Morrison, though the former two have returned to full training and should be available for selection soon. Hal Robson-Kanu will undergo a late fitness test.
If ever a club was in need of a victory to lift it’s spirits, it’s Arsenal at the moment. Following their defeat to League 2 outfit Bradford City in the Capital One Cup last week, Arsene Wenger finds himself under huge pressure as he takes his side to Berkshire. Fortunately, the embattled Gunners boss can call upon a good record at the Madejski, where his side have won on every single occasion.
Arsenal may well have a full compliment of players to choose from as they seek to close in on Tottenham and the fourth Champions League place, with Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny free for selection again having recovered from back and thigh injuries respectively, while Theo Walcott may also return from a calf injury. Gervinho may find himself replaced in the starting line-up after his poor performance against Bradford, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on stand-by to return.
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