Preview by Numbers: Reading v. Arsenal, Capital One Cup Fourth Round

Madejski Stadium, Reading
Tuesday, October 30
3:45 p.m. EDT, 19:45 GMT
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Kevin Friend
    • Assistants: Stuart Burt and Charles Breakspear
    • 4th Official: Michael Oliver
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 9 Arsenal wins, no Reading wins, no draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: W-D-L-W-L-W
  • Reading's League Form: L-L-D-D-L-D
  • Arsenal's Path to Round 4
    • Round 3: 6-1 win over Coventry City
  • Reading's Path to Round 4
    • Round 2: 3-2 win over Peterborough United
    • Round 3: 3-2 win over Queens Park Rangers
Mikel Arteta pretends he is an airplane following his
match winner on Saturday. Photo: Daily Mail.
While a nervy 1-0 win over last place Queens Park Rangers is not really confidence inspiring, you have to consider it progress, right? A win is a win, and that's better than the last two results this Arsenal team had put together.

It's hard to talk about form when it comes to the League Cup, though, because there's so much rotation in the squad. These matches sort of take on an existence on their own, displaced from the rest of the fixture list, at least during the early rounds. In a way, that should be good news for Arsenal. If a number of youngsters get a run out, they're probably not going to be weighed down by last week's string of negativity.

Arsenal have made it to at least the fifth round for each of the past nine seasons. Time to make it ten.

Arsenal Squad News

Okay, I've got some bubble wrap.
Let's all wrap up Jack Wilshere
in this so he doesn't break himself
between now and the weekend.
Out: Wilshere (rest), Gervinho (ankle), Oxlade-Chamberlain (hip), Gibbs (thigh), Diaby (thigh), Szczesny (ankle), Fabianski (shoulder), Rosicky (Achilles)

Jack Wilshere got a bit of a surprise start at the weekend in his return from injury, but as a result, he will be rested for this cup tie. I would also recommend just keeping him wrapped entirely in bubble wrap before the trip to Old Trafford on Saturday.

The news on Gervinho's ankle injury does not look good, though there's no official timetable, as he has yet to have a scan. All I've read it "3-4 weeks" and that was from a random Twitter account, so it really means absolutely nothing. My initial thought when I first heard the injury was "serious" was that there was ligament damage, which would put a lot of his season in jeopardy, but perhaps that is not the case. This really isn't the place to be speculating on that kind of thing without evidence. I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on the Internet.

Also, for the love of God, Kieran Gibbs had better be fit for Saturday...

Reading Squad News

Out: Karacan (knee)

Reading have just one injured player in their squad, Jem Karacan. The Turkish midfielder has been out with an MCL injury in his knee, and according to his personal Twitter account, he's just had a setback, and is expected to miss another six weeks.

Current Form

Reading got a late equalizer against Fulham to draw
3-3 at the weekend. Here, you can see Hal Robson-Kanu
also thinking he is an airplane. Photo: Daily Mail.
It's hard to explain Arsenal's form as of late. They were dreadful against Norwich, even more dreadful against Schalke (which was, to be fair, stiffer competition, too,) and a bit less dreadful against QPR. They are clearly not firing on all cylinders. One hopes they have hit the bottom of this downward spiral and are on their way back up. A loss for Arsenal on Saturday would have been three straight across all competitions for the first time since April of 2010. Since then, Arsenal have lost two straight seven times.

Arsenal also kept a clean sheet for the first time since the win over Liverpool in early September, having gone nine matches without pitching a shutout. That was their longest such streak since 12 matches without a clean sheet in 2001/02 (you'll recall they won the Double that year.)

Reading's only victories this season have come in the League Cup. Both were by 3-2 scorelines; one was over Peterborough United, the other was over Queens Park Rangers. In the league, Reading played a wild 3-3 draw with Fulham at the weekend. They have split their eight league matches with four losses and four draws. They have played only eight league matches instead of nine, since their August match with Sunderland was postponed.

Match Facts

Alex Hleb had Arsenal's second goal
in a 4-0 win in 2006/07. Photo: BBC.
Arsenal and Reading have met nine times across all domestic competitions and the Gunners have won all nine. Four of those meetings have been in the league, three have come in the FA Cup, and two have come in this competition.

In 2006/07, Reading's first top flight season, Arsenal won 4-0 away and 2-1 at the Emirates. In 2007/08, Reading's last top flight season before this year, Arsenal won 3-1 away and 2-0 at the Emirates.

Their three FA Cup ties include a 1-0 Arsenal win in 1935, a 2-1 win in 1972, and a 3-1 win in 1987. All three of those matches were in Reading. Both previous League Cup ties were in North London, with Arsenal winning 1-0 on New Year's Day 1968 and 3-0 on November 29, 2005.

The Referee

I like when I can find photos of the referee showing a
red card to an Arsenal opponent. This came in a 3-0 win
over Wigan in 2011. Some Dutch guy had a hat trick.
Photo: Zimbia.
The referee is Leicestershire-based Kevin Friend. Friend took charge of Arsenal's most comprehensive victory of the season thus far, the 6-1 win over Southampton in September. He also had the distinction of working the FA Community Shield match between Manchester City and Chelsea back in August. Friend worked in the Championship this weekend, working the Nottingham Forest 4-1 win over Barnsley.

He's taken charge of one Reading match this season, the 1-1 draw with Stoke, where the Royals earned a point with an injury time penalty after a Stoke red card.

Around the Fourth Round

There are seven other fourth round matches this midweek; four of those are also played tonight and three of them will be played tomorrow.

Mark Clattenburg was not impressed with John Obi MIkel's
singing on Sunday night. Photo: Daily Mail.
Elsewhere tonight, Southampton is at Elland Road to face Leeds, Sunderland hosts Middlesbrough in a testy Tees-Wear derby, Swindon Town earns a chance to host Aston Villa at County Ground, and Bradford City has earned a trip to  the DW to face Wigan Athletic.

Tomorrow's big match features the immediate rematch of Sunday's Manchester United/Chelsea affair. This match, like the 3-2 United win where Chelsea finished with eight billion red cards, will be played at Stamford Bridge. The other two matches tomorrow see Norwich host Tottenham and Liverpool host Swansea.