Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Saturday March 3 2007
3rd March 2007
Arsenal will look to salvage what`s left of their season on Saturday as they face Reading in the Premiership after suffering 3 consecutive defeats in 3 different competitions.
Defeat to Chelsea in the Carling Cup final is disappointing but not as disappointing as suffering 2 very undeserved defeats. The first away to PSV, a game Arsenal controlled and should have buried. The second a Cup replay that never should have been! I won`t go into that because this preview will turn into a rant!
We were all expecting Arsenal to turn in an outstanding performance against Blackburn and show that we have the goods when our backs are against the wall. Unfortunately it didn`t happen and we lost out.
Reading are sure to be lifted by their performance against Manchester United, despite the fact they lost. In truth Reading should have won the game, despite conceding 3 goals in 6 minutes!
The majority of Reading`s team will also be in good shape as Steve Coppell rested 8 first team players for their Cup Replay on Tuesday. Arsenal on the other hand will be missing at least 8 first team players…Oh joy!
Arsene Wenger may have shown his fighting side this week as he fights the FA over Adebayor's ban but he showed a massive amount of respect when speaking of Reading and Steve Coppell: 'They are a very good side and what Steve Coppell has done is excellent," said Wenger. "I don't only say that to be correct or fair but because I like the way they play football. And it's no coincidence that they are, with us, the team that commits the fewest fouls.
"They are the success story of the season but I am not surprised. We played them in the Carling Cup last year and I saw the quality in the squad."
Mr Coppell returned a similar compliment when speaking of Arsenal: 'In many ways you are just in awe of teams like Arsenal when they are really flowing.
'You look at their ability going forward and you just think 'wow'.
'I am also in awe of what they are doing with their youngsters. It is a shame they are not English, but you can only respect what they are doing.'
Well what can I say? We have only 14 fit players to choose from without tapping into the depths of our youth team!
Toure, eboue and Adebayor are all suspended after their charges relating to the Carling Cup final.
Henry (foot), Hoyte (hamstring), Flamini (foot), Rosicky (groin) and Van Persie (foot) are all missing.
The good news is that Cesc Fabregas returns after being rested. Johan Djourou and Abou Diaby also return.
The powerful midfielder had Ballack, Lampard, Essien and Makalele pinned in their own half for much of the carling Cup final. Had he not injured himself in the process of knocking terry unconscious then things may have been different last Sunday.
He has a bite to his tackle that Arsenal often miss as well as offering support to his defence and his strikers. Vieira MK II? I thinks so!
Only Ibrahima Sonko and Bobby Convey (both knee) will be missing for Reading.
The former Arsenal midfielder has been in sparkling form for The Royals this season. The fact that he's been linked with everyone from Everton to Real madrid this season is testiment to his ability.
He is reading's Cesc Fabregas.
Chris Foy will be the whistle-bearer for Satuday's encounter. He'll be taking control of his first Arsenal game of the season. He's one of the most leanient Refs in the League, dishing out 1 red and 33 yellows. An average of 2.27 cards per game.
I'm concerned by Arsenal's recent form. The performances haven't been poor but the results have. I think the lack of that 'killer instinct' will cost us. I'm predicting Arsenal's first home loss of the season. I can see Arsenal dominating the game but the failure to make chances pay will cost us. 1-0 to Reading. Steve Sidwell to score a 20 yarder!
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Date:Saturday March 3 2007
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