Saturday evening sees the first of this weekend’s F.A cup semi-finals, in which Championship side Reading are pitched against F.A cup Champions and one of the country’s in form teams, Arsenal.
Unbeaten since the 3-1 loss to Monaco in the Champions league, Arsenal have won all of their last eight games; this run includes a 4-1 rout of Liverpool and an inspiring 2-1 away win at Old Trafford in the previous round.
Olivier Giroud is a player Reading should be particularly wary off, having seen him score eight times in his last ten games ,Alexis Sanchez also represents a major threat for the relatively young Reading defence having nabbed twenty goals already this season.
Midfielders Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin are ruled out through injury, whilst Arsene Wenger confirmed that Wojciech Szczesny will return to F.A cup duty after being sidelined for recent league games.
Reading in contrast haven’t tasted victory since their 3-0 win over Bradford which saw them book their Wembley day out, however with Championship safety all but confirmed they will approach this game with nothing to lose and should give Arsenal a stern test.
Hal Robson-Kanu is a player particularly enjoying the F.A cup, with three of his four goals this season appearing in the competition, January signing Yakubu is also a player Arsenal will be wary of having seen him score against them five times in his career.
The Royals will be without on loan pair Nathan Ake and Kwesi Appiah and former Sheffield United striker Nick Blackman is also ruled out through injury.
Pavel Pogrebnyak will return for the Royals, and the striker has a proven pedigree on big game occasions having scored as Zenit won the 2008 Russian Super Cup as well as grabbing both goals against Manchester United in Zenit’s 2008 Uefa Super Cup Triumph; the big Russian will be looking to make a similar impact against Arsenal.
The romantic in me says Reading can do the job, with Pogrebnyak rising highest to score a single goal from a corner, however based on current form and Arsenal’s previous cup experience I can see this tie going only one way.