Reading vs. Arsenal
Madejski Stadium, Reading, Berkshire, Where the Poppies Grow
Kickoff: Tuesday, October 30, 3:45 PM EDT (yes, that's right--the UK has moved their clocks)
Form: Reading LDDLD | Arsenal WWLLW
TV: beIN Sport
Hot off the heels of what turned out to be a tricky home fixture against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, Arsenal have to motor west to Berkshire and the Madejski Stadium to face Reading FC in the Capital One Cup. Last round saw Arsenal brush aside League One side Coventry City in a 6-1 smashing, but Reading away is an entirely different kettle of fish. The Royals' defense has struggled this year to keep the white round thing out of the white woven-together thing strung up between the white standy-uppy things, but they have earned some draws against tough opponents because their players are good at kicking that one thing into the other thing between the things. So it's not a sure thing.
Reading's main offensive extraterrestrial threats come disguised as midfielder Jobi McAnuff, striker Pavel Pogrebnyak, and midfielder (and tell me this isn't a perfect name for an alien shapeshifting footballer) Hal Robson-Kanu. If Arsenal can hold them at bay, scoring should not be an issue. That being said, Arsenal's defense tomorrow could very well consist of Carl Jenkinson (the rock solid), Johan Djourou (solid, but showing some rust), Ignasi Miquel (often good, not the fleetest when being pursued by alien bugs), and Jernade Meade (fast). On paper, one might look at those four and think "uh oh", but Miquel and Meade have played together a lot on the U21s, and Jenkinson and Djourou should be solid enough to handle Reading's attack if they're on their game.
Defending is, of course, though, a team game, and the midfield is going to need to participate as well. Francis Coquelin and Emmanuel Frimpong are both available, and would form quite a robust double pivot. The more attacking of the midfielders, given injury, will most likely see Serge Gnabry and Thomas Eisfeld flank Andrei Arshavin, who is definitely the Thing taking meerkat form. Striker doesn't leave many options right now, given that Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski need rest ahead of Manchester United; could Theo Walcott lead the line? Or does he need rest too, leaving Arsenal to turn to The Actual Thing Marouane Chamakh, who, for the past two weeks, has been puppeteering other Arsenal players?
So, keeping score, a probable Arsenal lineup:
Jenkinson - Djourou - Miquel - Meade
Coquelin - Frimpong
Eisfeld - Arshavin - Gnabry
Prediction: Well, as it's the day before Halloween:
More tomorrow ahead of the match!