Arsenal look far too classy for the out-of-sorts Royals
Apart from Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsene Wenger has a fully-fit squad for this weekend’s FA Cup semi-final against Reading and that is bad news for the Royals.
The Championship side haven’t managed a single win since they defeated League One Bradford City in a quarter-final replay at the Madejski Stadium and none of their players has managed to find the net in almost six hours of football. These are troubled times for Steve Clarke’s side, who aren’t mathematically safe from relegation, and though the FA Cup can be a great leveler this could be one of the biggest Wembley mis-matches for many years.
Clarke hopes to have striker Pavel Pogrebnyak fit to face Arsenal but not even the Russian international will strike fear among the Gunners’ ranks – he’s managed only seven goals in 22 league and cup appearances this term. Welshman Hal Robson-Kanu has fared even worse, managing only four goals for his club in 30 matches.
The FA Cup holders have already announced that Wojcech Szczesny will return in goal against their Championship opponents. There could also be a place in the squad for a fit-again Jack Wilshere as Wenger contemplates resting a few of his regular starting XI with a big game in the Premier League coming up next week against Chelsea.
Arsenal have won eight in a row with Olivier Giroud scoring in all but two of those matches. The French striker is only 3/4 to be an anytime scorer at Wembley but 16/5 to be the last goalscorer, which could be a bit of value. The Gunners are just 1/4 to beat Reading in 90 minutes but can be backed at 7/4 giving away a two-goal start on the European Handicap and the Totals market is also worth a second look. In the last three games between the teams, there have been a total of 24 goals scored – over 4.5 this Saturday is 57/20.
The match kicks off at 5.30pm on Saturday, April 18 at Wembley.