Arsenal travel to relegation bound Reading on Monday with a point to prove in the English Premier League (EPL) following an embarrassing exit at the hands of League Two outfit Bradford in the Capital One Cup midweek.
The North London club has been unable to string a decent run together in the EPL, with only two wins from their last six games, which is unacceptable for a club of Arsenal’s pedigree with Champions League aspirations.
The loss of Robin van Persie to Manchester United at the start of the season has undoubtedly left a major hole up front for the Gunners, with his replacement in German striker Lukas Podolski struggling to capture consistent form – not finding the net in the club’s last four league outings.
Much of Arsenal’s attacking threat will come through their midfield mystro Santi Cazorla, who has been one of the few form players in a disappointing season thus far, which has seen them languishing outside the top four. The Spanish international will also have a lot to prove following a costly penalty miss against Bradford midweek.
Meanwhile, after two long awaited goals in Arsenal’s previous EPL fixture against West Brom, veteran playmaker Mikel Arteta will also be a pivotal part of the Gunner’s midfield engine room, which has always been the base from which manager Arsene Wenger has launched his philosophy of attractive passing football.
With Reading coming off four losses on the bounce, and rooted to second to last spot on the league table, smart money is on another loss, especially with Arsenal wanting to prove their worth following their cup troubles during the week.
It will require a solid team effort from Brian McDermott’s star-less Reading squad that will find themselves playing League One football unless their fortunes can be U-turned. Another Arsenal loss to lowly competition would increase the calls for Wenger’s head, as fans grow frustrated with the lack of silver wear in recent times.
Prediction: Reading 1-2 Arsenal