Looking for goals against rejuvenated Reading

Posted by Sam Limbert

Reading and Arsenal GettyImagesReading and Arsenal put on a 12 goal thriller earlier in the season.

Arsenal fans will be hoping club duties resume with another positive result and an entertaining 90 minutes against Reading and their new manager on Saturday. In two games at the Madjeski this season, the aggregate score of games between the Gunners and Reading is 12-7, with 7-5 and 5-2 wins for Arsenal. Even Marouane Chamakh scored twice against Reading in October.

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In both of those matches, whilst Arsenal did play some excellent attacking football, Reading's defence did allow Arsenal the time and space to play. Their back four were easily pulled around creating the chances for the Gunners. As proved by their seven goals against Arsenal this season, Reading can be dangerous when given the chance to attack, however their defending has been the main reason for them being in the bottom three.

With Nigel Adkins now installed as manager it could give Reading the boost they need to get a good result at the Emirates, if not enough of a lift to keep them in the league. Even though Adkins had Southampton playing decent football, I expect the first thing he'll do with Reading will be to organise the defence. He'll also have learnt from the way his Saints side conceded six at the Emirates earlier in the season.

Reading need wins to have a chance of surviving, but the onus will be on Arsenal to break them down to win the game. Arsenal's recent good performances at Bayern and Swansea came without having to have the majority of possession and being able to focus on having a solid defensive backline. The risk against Reading will be getting caught on the counter-attack, so it will require a different performance for the Gunners to continue their recent revival.

Without any other distractions, it will be interesting to see Arsene Wenger's team selection to gauge who he considers to be in his strongest side at the moment. Despite remaining positive about Wojciech Szczesny in his press conference this morning, Lukasz Fabianski doesn't deserve to be dropped from between the posts on the basis of his last two performances. In defence, Bacary Sagna is fit again and Thomas Vermaelen remains available, but Carl Jenkinson and Laurent Koscielny have played an important part in the consecutive clean sheets. Kieran Gibbs' flu means Nacho Monreal is the obvious choice on the left.

With Theo Walcott injured on international duty, Wenger could call Lukas Podolski back into the team and start Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right of the front three. Podolski's role in the Arsenal team has gradually become increasingly mysterious through form and fitness. The opportunity to find the net against Reading could massively help his confidence for the rest of the run-in.

When thinking about this weekend's game, I'm stuck between thinking Arsenal will thunder more goals past the Royals, and fearing it'll be a tight, scrappy game similar to the home matches with QPR and Stoke this season.

Reading will still be scarred from playing Arsenal, particularly from the four goal comeback in the Capital One Cup, so an emphasis on defence is to be expected. If they can draw on the boost of a new manager, this game might not be the comfortable home win many expect. However, if Reading allow Arsenal the space to attack again, another goal fest could boost the London club's goal difference and continue to put the pressure on Spurs in the fight for a top-four finish.

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