Arsenal will be confident of banking three points at home to relegation-threatened Reading that will keep up their chase for a place in next season’s Champions League. The Gunners have been on a good run of league form of late, with only one defeat in their last seven outings despite exiting both the Champions League and FA Cup within that period.
Arsene Wenger has been beset by injury problems since his side’s impressive 2-0 win at Swansea in their last fixture. After delaying Jack Wilshere’s comeback for another two weeks, Theo Walcott sustained a groin injury on international duty with England and will miss the visit of the Royals. Then, the Gunners were rocked by the news that Abou Diaby, Wilshere’s likely replacement in midfield, would be missing until at least the end of the year after suffering cruciate ligament damage in training.
The absences of Diaby and Wilshere should mean a place for Aaron Ramsey in midfield alongside Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta while either Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Gervinho will come in for Walcott, with Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud set to complete the front three.
The daunting trip to the Emirates represents Nigel Adkins’ first match in charge of Reading after a run of five consecutive league defeats cos Brian McDermott his job in charge at the Madjeski. The Royals are second-bottom and a full seven points away from safety and Adkins will know that with only eight games remaining, time is not on his side if he is to drag Reading out of the mire.
He will at least have Pavel Pogrebnyak available after the Russian completed a three-match suspension while former Arsenal goalkeeper Stuart Taylor could be replaced in-between the sticks now that Alex McCarthy has recovered from a four-month shoulder lay-off.
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