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Reading vs Arsenal: Arsene Wenger’s side to depose the Royals

16 Apr | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Reading vs Arsenal: Arsene Wenger’s side to depose the Royals

Steve Clarke’s side have enjoyed a superb run to the semi-finals but come up against a side in excellent form

Part of the reason people love league football is that it is – for the most part, at least – meritocratic.

Yes, there are refereeing decisions that go your way and the odd game that you lose despite dominating. But, as the old truism goes, the table does not lie. If you find yourself in fifth place after 38 or 46 games, it’s because you are the fifth-best side. Teams get what they deserve.

Cup football is wilfully, joyously different. Without the benefit of repetition to iron out inconsistencies and injustices, there is a feeling that anything goes. String three or four fluky results together and you suddenly find yourself stepping onto the turf at Wembley, your name being read out to 90,000 people.

The giant-killing fables of the past are still knocking about for a reason: football fans, like humans in general, love an underdog story. If league football is the workplace, the cup is an office sweepstake. Sure, the bosses have all bought multiple tickets, but the one scrunched in the hand of the intern can still win the thing.

And so to Reading vs. Arsenal. The latter are no corporate overlords (they’re way too error-prone) but the task of eliminating the Football League’s last hold-outs falls to them on Saturday.

The Royals have led a charmed life in the FA Cup so far, reaching the final four without playing a single Premier League side. Away wins against Huddersfield, Cardiff and Derby were all impressive, and they even managed to see off Bradford, all-powerful scourge of Chelsea.

Steve Clarke’s side continue to struggle in the Championship (18th going into the weekend), which perhaps indicates their true level. But they have snatched the opportunity presented to them to set up a date against the Gunners.

On paper, this looks like a bridge too far: Arsenal have been in unerring form in recent weeks, winning eight games in a row and dispatching sides better than Reading. With Olivier Giroud’s form finally matching his hair game and Mesut Ozil reinvigorated after injury, Arsene Wenger’s side always look like scoring, while the emergence of Hector Bellerin has caught the eye at the back.

Arsenal’s place in next year’s Champions League looks secure already, so they will also be giving this game their full attention. That looks like bad news for Reading… but who knows, maybe that Golden Ticket will come up trumps again.