Friday, November 9, 2007

Reading vs. Arsenal: Match Preview

Match Review

Arsene Wenger's top of the table Gunners will take on Steve Coppell's 12th placed Royals in the English Premier League this Monday.

Arsenal are unbeaten in 26 games, but their progress has been halted recently thanks to a 1-1 draw at Liverpool, a 2-2 draw with Manchester United, and a 0-0 draw at Slavia Prague. The Gunners will be looking to get back on track with a win at the Madejski.

Last season's Premiership newcomers are not to be taken lightly though, and although Reading is currently placed 12th, they nearly qualified for a UEFA Cup spot last season, and have European aspirations again this year despite the large influx of foreign players amongst their competition. They will be lacking some confidence though, having lost two of their three latest games (Blackburn 4-2 Reading, Reading 2-1 Newcastle, Fulham 3-1 Reading).

However, the Royals should take heart in the fact that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger may not be fielding a full-strength side.

"I will change things around," said Wenger. "I don’t know by how much though. I left out eight players at Slavia and they are all capable to play again.

"We have just Van Persie injured now. Senderos is back in full training but we will not use him on Monday because he has not played at all. Rosicky is back and Toure is back. They had a good session today."

The team I would most like to see would have Manuel Almunia in goal behind Bacary Sagna, Kolo Toure, William Gallas, and Gael Clichy.

In the midfield Tomas Rosicky (who recently returned from injury) and Alex Hleb would play out on the wings while Cesc Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini would dictate play in the center of the pitch.

Up front Theo Walcott would partner Emmanuel Adebayor in the place of the injured Robin van Persie, making for a tough combination of pace and size.

Depending on the team we field the scoreline could vary greatly. I think that if Manchester United win against Blackburn on Sunday, Arsene Wenger will field a full-strength side, resulting in a 3-1 win. However, a less experienced side could result in a more closed game (like the midweek game in Prague) with Arsenal sneaking a 1-0 win. Either way, I expect Arsenal to win and stay at the top of the Premier League.