Arsenal are set to make wholesale changes against a team they have only ever won against as they travel to Berkshire to take on the Royals in the Capital One Cup.
Arsenal – Mannone; Jenkinson, Djourou, Vermaelen, Miquel; Yennaris, Coquelin; Walcott, Arshavin, Gnabry; Giroud
Reading – McCarthy; Cummins, Mariappa, Gorkss, Shorey; Robson-Kanu, Guthrie, Leig’wood, McAnuff; Pogrebnyak, Roberts
Like most of the bigger clubs Arsene Wenger typically uses the competition to rotate his squad and he will likely not stray too far from the formula on Tuesday evening. Jack Wilshere will likely be rested for this game following his return from a lengthy lay-off and a run in the win over QPR, as is the same for Bacary Sagna. Wojciech Szczesny (ankle injury) is close to returning after his six weeks out on the sidelines, but Vito Mannone is likely to start on Tuesday. Abou Diaby (thigh), Kieran Gibbs (thigh) and Tomas Rosicky (Achilles) will not feature. Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are also ruled out, but Andrey Arshavin should get a nod. Youngsters Nico Yennaris, Francis Coquelin and Serge Gnabry are expected to be given a chance against the league struggling Royals.
Danny Guthrie was left out of the squad for last Saturday’s Fulham game, allegedly due reports of a bust-up with Brian McDermott which have since denied. Jem Karacan (knee injury) has been ruled out for the six weeks, while Noel Hunt will be assessed ahead of the tie. With no other injury concerns the Royals have several options. Hal Robson-Kanu could feature after scoring Saturday’s last-minute equaliser against Fulham.
Arsenal have won the League Cup twice, in 1987 and 1993, and are looking good so far this term with a third-round 6-1 thrashing of Coventry City. It was also Olivier Giroud’s first goal for the north London side. The Gunners reached 2011’s final but ultimately lost out to Birmingham City. Only one visiting side has won a game at the Madejski Stadium so far this season – Tottenham
Reading have faced Arsenal nine times in their history, with the Gunners coming out on top every single time. A win for Reading would see them make the League Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 1998 and just the third time in total. Whilst the Royals are yet to muster a victory in the league they have won both of the Capital One Cup ties so far. Noel Hunt will be in line to make his 375th appearance of his club career if he plays.
Men to watch:
Arsenal – Serge Gnabry. It’s not the first time Arsenal have unearthed an exciting youngster and it certainly won’t be the last. The German Under-17 player has seen first team action in recent weeks starring in as a substitute in the League Cup demolition of Coventry, as well as the defeats in the league to Norwich and Champions League at the hands of Schalke. A more interesting sub plot however might develop as Theo Walcott’s Arsenal future is slightly in doubt and Gnarby has been heralded as the man to take his place should he move on. There will be no better time to start pushing for a starting berth than against League strugglers Reading.
Reading – Pavel Pogrebnyak. The physical Russian has scored in both of Readings previous ties and with Arsenals rotation policy likely to come into effect Pogrebnyak could be out for blood. Having not replicated his form last season with Fulham the Russianwill be expected to work hard to get his name on the scoring sheet.