Reading 5-7 Arsenal

Wow! When I wrote yesterday’s match preview I had no idea what an incredible evening I was in for. A rollercoaster of emotions for 120 crazy minutes ended in Arsenal coming back from 4-0 down to win the tie 7-5 and progress to the Quarter Finals. I said to a mate after the game that I didn’t know where to start writing this review. He said to start at the beginning (duh!), so I will.

I spoke yesterday about the need to make sure we avoid a blip after the two defeats last week. However we managed to find the self-destruct button and press it time and time again in a dreadful first half. For the first goal, Theo gave the ball away needlessly in midfield, the second was another Koscielny own goal, the third was a poor flap by the goalkeeper and the fourth was a cross not dealt with. 4-0 down and we were out of the competition. That familiar feeling of doom and gloom descended and the fans were chanting ‘We want our Arsenal back!’.

To have a chance of an improbable comeback, we needed a goal before half time. Thankfully we got it, Arshavin threading a perfect pass through to Walcott, who took a nice first touch and dinked it over the keeper to hand us a lifeline. Many will call that the turning point of the game. For me however, it was the introduction of Giroud midway through the second half. A few minutes after coming on, he brilliantly guided a header from a corner into the goal. His fighting spirit and extra bit of quality changed the dynamics of the game in our favour heavily, and we started to dominate. At 4-2 with 25 minutes to go, the comeback seemed more possible, but we all wanted that third goal as soon as possible. In the 89th minute it was still 4-2 and with so little time left, you felt that game was beyond us. Koscielny made amends with his own goal earlier by scoring a tidy header from a corner, and we went into 4 minutes of added time needing another goal to take the game to extra time.

Reading time-wasted most of the 4 minutes, making a substitution, holding the ball in the corners. My friends and I were making our way down the stairs, conceding defeat. It was so typical of Arsenal to bring it back to 4-3 just to tease us. As we were approaching the exit, 5 minutes into stoppage time, a ball was lofted into the box. Chamakh headed it down to Walcott who was suddenly one on one with the goalkeeper. The miracle goal, as it was later referred to by the manager, happened. Walcott struck the ball into the far corner, Chris Gunter on the line handballed it, it rolled over the line, and Gunter kicked it out. At this point we all believed it was a goal. Luckily Carl Jenkinson was there to smash it home and ensure there would be no controversy. At this point, the fans erupted, the place went absolutely mental, and we must have set the world record for the biggest ever mosh pit. You didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, we had done it, come back from 4-0 down to nick an equaliser in ‘Fergie time’.

We had to make our way back to our seats for another 30 minutes of this madness. Coquelin and Giroud thought it meant a replay, throwing their shirts into the crowd. The look on Giroud’s face when he was told there was another 30 minutes coming was priceless. Having come back from 4-0 down, the psychological edge had shifted entirely over to us. Reading were shattered, emotionally and physically, and our young legs seemed more likely to prevail. Late in the first half of extra time Marouane Chamakh completed a fantastic move with a tidy finish. Chamakh flicked it through to Arshavin, who played a 1-2 with Giroud before laying it into the path of Chamakh who smashed it home at the near post. 5-4 to the Arsenal and the first time we’d had a lead in the game.

It felt like it was all over at this point, but with the way the game had gone we weren’t surprised to see even more drama. 5 minutes before the end Pogrebnyak equalised for Reading and we were bracing ourselves for penalties. 120 minutes were up and two minutes’ stoppage time would be added. Koscielny started a move, playing the ball out to the left and busting a gut to get into the box. The ball ended up out wide with Arshavin, who drove his run into the box and shot into the far corner. The ball was cleared off the line but Theo was on hand to hammer it home. That world record mosh pit was reaffirmed, delirium on the faces of every single one of us. If that didn’t put the nail in the coffin (and this coffin required a few nails), Chamakh finished it a few moments later, running on to a clearance and beautifully lobbing the goalkeeper from 30 yards. Game over.

I have been to some amazing games and my favourites will always be knocking out Milan at the San Siro and beating Barca at the Emirates, but as a football match, this is the greatest by a long way. The neutral must have loved every minute of it, Arsenal and Reading fans will have suffered highs and lows, and the League Cup had just had its most historic game of all time. We left the ground scratching our heads. What just happened? It’s one of those games where, before the match, you want a relaxed 3-0 victory. Afterwards you are happy for things to have gone the way they did.

A few individual performances stood out for me. I think every player had a bad first half, but for the rest of the game I thought Arshavin had a magnificent game. He is a risk-taker, we know this by now. The result is things he tries often do not work out. But he tries and tries, and drives forward with every opportunity. He felt more and more dangerous the longer the game went on and for me the winning 6-5 goal belongs to him, even though Walcott put it in eventually. Olivier Grioud changed the game. He came on and added stability going forward that we were lacking. He was back defending, and fighting at the front. His header was world class and he is doing everything right to become a legend at the club. Marouane Chamakh had a good game for me. He was chasing down balls in their half, he won most of his aerial duels, and both his goals were finished beautifully.

The man of the match award has got to go to Walcott. Three goals, three assists says it all. His first goal was a delightful finish, his second took the game to extra time and his third won it for us. Give the man his contract, he’s our top goalscorer this season and has made less than a handful of starts. Someone pointed out an interesting stat. He must be the first person to have scored a hattrick with all three goals coming in different stoppages (45+2, 90+6, 120+1). That alone shows you how much of a crazy game this was.

A lot of people on the radio after were moaning about the defensive display. It was disastrous in the first half, yes. But I’m not going to dwell on that. This was one of the greatest games in Arsenal and League Cup history. Let’s enjoy it for a few days before worrying about the game at the weekend.

One final point I’d like to make is Sky were showing people leaving, claiming they’d had enough at 4-0 and were on their way home. I’m sure one or two did leave but most people were beating the crowds to get a half time pint in. One guy who was shown on Sky even tweeted himself at the game during extra time. How do Sky know where people are going merely by showing someone walking down a flight of stairs? Anyway, from what I’ve read the away fans got all the credit they deserved.

It was a night to savour. Strange, weird, brilliant. I think I’m going to have to watch the highlights again for the 5th time to try and figure it all out.

 

 

  • worldofarsenal

    JAT, that was an amazing match report. Missed the game due to the full moon partyness but after reading that report, it really made me feel like I was there. Sounds like an epic game of Arsenal-tastic proportions.

    Time to find the highlights.

  • sevin

    An incredible night! Missed the first goal as the buses from the station
    to the ground dried up and so had to jump in a taxi to get there asap,
    got to our seats and straight away Koscielny put them 2-0 up. The rest
    of the first half was humiliating with the Reading fans to our right
    coming up with some amusing chants such as “Robin Van Persie is laughing
    at you” and others that would come back to haunt them “You’re getting
    fucked on the tele”… The away fans shouted “We want our Arsenal back”
    in disaproval and I heard other shouts of “Sack the board” and “Gazidis
    Out” that never took off.

    Thought Walcott took his first goal
    superbly and although still 4-1 down at halftime I was genuinely
    convinced that we could get something from the game as we had played so
    poorly and could only improve.

    Interesting that Wenger didn’t
    make any changes at halftime as all eleven players had been truly awful
    but fair play to Giroud who really had the bit between his teeth when he
    came on and made a huge difference.

    Thought Frimpong was
    appalling and no coincedence that when he went off we were so much
    better. His replacement Eisfeld put him to shame and was excellent
    continually driving us forward. Arshavin and Walcott were also much
    improved after the terrible start.

    Amazing celebrations in the
    away end for the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th goals, exactly what football is
    all about! 4-0 down to 7-5 up even Chamack scored twice and both decent
    goals!

    I really think the club should be looking to win the
    league cup as it is a reailstic target and winning something would
    surely give the players confidence and help create a winning mentality.

  • sevin

    go to footytube dot com they have highlits for about 40 mins

  • Berth

    A night of unbelievable football. Hope this motivates us to play united better. I liked coaqulene’s touches, his combination with Elsfield gave us stability. Wilshere was really good, and credit must be giving to him.

  • Berth

    LOL I meant Walcott not Wilshere. They both seem to put in quality performances of late

  • Berth

    Elsfield should replace Ramsey in the current squad and Coaqulen is really feeling me in. His got a better football brain than Alex Song at that age; I think Arteta is helping the lad a lot.

  • sean

    Absolutely incredible game, words can’t describe how that felt after the final
    whistle for both sets of fans, gutted I couldn’t be there and had to settle for
    just making the kick off on TV, also gutted to hear Wenger’s mood when invited
    to praise Theo Walcott for yet ANOTHER clinical display in front of goal,
    instead in he chose to deflect the question, he’s surely off and won’t get a
    look in against United, himself and Giroud should be 2 of the first names on the
    team sheet in my opinion. We can almost guarantee that Aaron Ramsey will get his
    place and himself and Santos will do their very best to ruin whatever chance
    Arsenal have at Old Trafford.

  • worldofarsenal

    I think Walcott has shown that he can offer something different and his pace is definitely a great asset – with his improved finishing too, he is potentially earning this new contract. The main problem with Walcott has been his inconsistency – and for that reason, he may not start on the weekend. We’ll have to wait and see.

  • worldofarsenal

    Agree with your comments. Ramsey can offer more than he is currently though.
    He is better in the middle than out wide…

  • limet

    I want Theo to stay, I am sick of our best player leaving each summer,
    but as a fan I am even more angry when our players are continually sold
    on the cheap. Free transfers, or cheap transfers, that seems to be it.
    If sold at the right time Cesc and Van Persie would have fetched close
    to £100M. They were sold for half that. If Arsenal had no intention of
    meeting the Theo’s agent’s terms he should have been sold last summer or
    better still before that. Now in Jan Arsenal will get peanuts for him
    and no doubt leave a gap in our squad as he will not be replaced. Leave
    it to the summer and he goes for free. For a profit-driven BOD as
    Arsenal’s, I just cannot understand their way of thinking.

  • sean

    The situation at arsenal is becoming ridiculous. If walcott is sold,
    wenger must come out and say or do something. With cesc nasri,rvp and
    song, he repeatedly said they weren’t going, and yet they were all sold.
    Every time this happens it makes wenger look like he’s at odds with the
    board. It makes him look like the fall guy. Fans are beginning to pity
    the man.

  • sean

    Anyone notice that the goals started flowing after Arsenal switched to a
    4-4-2 with the double substitutions? I have always believed Arsenal
    does not have the right players to play the 4-2-3-1 formation. With
    Arshavin/Walcott cutting in to support the two front players of
    Giroud/Chamakh, they suddenly have more bodies in the penalty box to
    take advantage. During the invincible season, Gunners played too in a
    4-4-2 formation. Vieria/Gilberto marshalling the midfield and
    Ljunberg/Pires cutting in to support Henry/Bergkamp. After that, the
    closest they came to winning the title before a late slump extinguished
    all hope. During that season, there is Flamini/Gilberto and Fabregas in
    the middle of the park. Helb/Rosicky cutting in to support
    Adebayor/Eduardo/RVP. Revert back to 4-4-2 and I believe we can have a
    big say in the title race. My ideal lineup. Midfield pairing of Arteta
    and Wilshere. Carzola and Walcott cutting in to support the striking
    pair of Giroud and Podolski. There is no point in putting the likes of
    Podolski and Walcott hugging the flanks cos Arsenal rarely put in
    crosses.

  • sean

    okay I think bould isn’t being able to properly implement his
    idea of defensive work the only noticeable difference to me is the near
    post flicked on header. shame maybe he is a yes man who knows? mannone
    isn’t good enough backup keeper plain simple for a club that should be
    aimining for all competitions. would he be back up at
    city/united/chelsea? no . hence why he isn’t for us. And if we got a 27+
    year old it would put ches on his toes as he has admitted he looses
    focus in small games. another noticeable thing is djorou is below
    standard. I feel much better with miquel at centre back. eisfield looked
    very tidy and should have started , with both coq and frimpong our
    midfield relied solely on arshavin for creativity which just isn’t
    enough as he goes missing for chunks of a game. also miquel on the left
    wing adds no width or penetration i would have preferred meade or
    jenkinson left back bellerin right back. we must be patient just wait
    till our new trio have played 6-8 months together and jack is back. we
    might nick a cup this year but next year we will be serious contenders
    on all fronts. another thing wenger must bite the bullet and give in to
    theo and get him the contract and play him down the middle rotate him
    with giroud, it’s nothing short of a insult in my opinion that he has
    played gervinho there when theo has been waiting for his chance for
    years.

  • Berth

    The guys handling player contracts