Reading FC Match Report: 2016/2017 Season - League Cup
ARSENAL 2 READING 0
Two goals from Oxlade-Chamerlaine underlined the difference between the two teams. Although the second took a long time to arrive, and took a significant deflection to beat an in-form Al-Habsi, both were hit with power and accuracy. In front of a full house at the Emirates an Arsenal team containing few first choice players dominated the game took take the Gunners into the next round. The outcome looked inevitable from the start but Reading were clearly not overawed by the occasion and commendably tried to play their passing game. They were denied a deserved consolation goal near the end when Martinez saved well, low to his left, from Kermorgant’s free kick.
Reading were under pressure from the start as Reading worked openings in and around the Reading penalty area. Jenkinson, returning from injury, found himself with only Al-Habsi to beat from close range but the Reading ‘keeper stayed in his feet and blocked the shot. Following up Jenkinson was presented with an equally decent chance but headed over. With both teams intent on playing short passes the ball remained in play and there were remarkably few stoppages. A combination of disciplined defending and wayward finishing from Arsenal kept reading on level terms until the thirty-third minute. It was Reading’s determination to play the ball out from the back which lead to their downfall. The usually reliable Van den Berg gave the ball away just outside the box and Oxlade-Chamberlaine took full advantage scoring with a shot across Al-Habsi inside the far post. Reading’s best effort came from Harriot who struck a good shot from outside the box which had Martinez leaping to his right only for the ball to be deflected to his left but over the bar. The Royals kept their heads under pressure trying work the ball into attacking areas or hit Arsenal on the break.
The second half saw The Gunners pressing for a second goal to secure the win. Jaap Stam intruded Kermorgant in place of Harriot to join Samuel up front which was a positive decision. In a rare Reading attack Kermorgant had a header saved by Marinez, who having had little to do, made a meal of the relatively simple catch. Giroud was introduced late in the game and was denied a goal by an outstanding save by Al-Habsi from his close range header. Moore headed off the line as the ball dropped from the save as Reading hung on. Gravenberch replaced Watson presumably to strengthen the defence and he made his mark instantly and on Lucas in particular inflicting an injury resulting in him limping off a minute later. Twelve minutes from the end Oxlade Chamberlaine ended Reading’s slim hopes of a revival with his sweetly struck but deflected strike from the edge of the box.
It was not the result Reading fans wanted but probably expected and I am sure Kelly and Samuel would have enjoyed and learned from the experience overall. Twenty-one shots from Arsenal with only seven on target reflected their superiority and the inaccuracy of their finishing. It was another reminder of how important it is to pass the ball well if the intention is to retain possession in your own half. Several players were guilty of inaccurate and poorly timed passes across the pitch leaving the back four exposed to counter attacks. Having said that Reading looked more comfortable on the ball than in the closing stages of the most recent home game. They deserved the applause from the travelling fans at the end – especially Al Habsi.
This League Cup game took place 152 days ago in the 2016/2017 season.