Arsenal V Reading at Emirates Stadium : Match Preview

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24 October 2016
Arsenal V Reading - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: Our challenge is to compete for everything

Arsene Wenger insisted Arsenal will compete for every competition this season ahead of Tuesday night's EFL Cup meeting with Reading.

The rebranded League Cup is usually a distant fourth in Arsenal's priorities, and probably more so this term as they currently sit level on points with Manchester City and Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.

Wenger's training schedule for the Emirates Stadium clash was disrupted by the club's annual general meeting on Monday but, in his speech to shareholders, the Gunners boss revealed his desire to get through to the quarter-finals.

"Our challenge is to compete for everything, starting (on Tuesday) in the League Cup," he said.

"Even if you see some new faces, our desire is to qualify and fight for everything because I believe we have a squad that is more mature and better equipped to cope with all the challenges we have.

"I am committed to give my best to ensure we are successful at the end of the season."

Wenger will make changes so youngsters Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Rob Holding, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Chuba Akpom, who played in the 4-0 win at Nottingham Forest in the previous round, could feature again along with Spanish forward Lucas Perez.

Striker Oliver Giroud could also be added to the squad following a toe injury, with Wenger determined to get back to winning ways after the goalless league draw against Middlesbrough on Saturday.

"That's our target," the Frenchman told Arsenal Player. "We have a game on Tuesday night so let's come back to winning habits straight away.

"It's about how you deal with disappointment and how you bounce back and I believe that the group is strong enough.

"We lost the first game here against Liverpool, and after that we bounced back in a very strong way so that's what we want to do again."

Reading captain Paul McShane says "the shackles are off" for his side on Tuesday as they put on hold their primary objective of winning promotion back into the Premier League to take on Arsenal in the EFL Cup.

The Royals travel to the Emirates for their fourth-round tie boosted by Saturday's 1-0 victory at Rotherham - a result that ended a four-game winless run and left them within a point of the Championship play-off spots.

McShane admits the league remains Reading's priority this season but insists at the same time they will be doing all they can to upset the Gunners, saying "everything is possible".

The 30-year-old defender told his club's official website: "As a player, you want to be playing against big clubs like Arsenal week in, week out in the Premier League...so the league has got to be a priority. But that makes Tuesday night's match a bonus game.

"And it's not impossible. If you can get a good cup run and win a few games, suddenly you're in a semi-final and then a final - and if you win a cup, the club talks about it for years and years to come.

"We can play good stuff as we've seen this season, so let's go and test ourselves against the best.

"Arsenal are a very good side, obviously - they had won seven on the bounce before the weekend. But it will be a good test for everyone.

"The shackles are off. We'll go and enjoy the game, and everything is possible."

While McShane - a member of the Hull team that lost to Arsenal in the 2014 FA Cup final - has outlined the positives of a good cup run, he also knows there can be downsides as well.

Last season Reading reached the last eight of the FA Cup but at the same time saw any faint promotion hopes disappear, with the Royals picking up just nine points from their final 13 Championship games to finish in 17th place.

"The cups have got to be secondary this season," said the Republic of Ireland international.

"We had a good cup run last season but we fell off the edge of a cliff in the league - and the league is your bread and butter. The league is where you are successful."

Royals boss Jaap Stam has hinted he may shuffle his pack once again for the cup tie.

Stam has previously used the competition this season to utilise his squad and he could make a number of changes to the side that beat Rotherham at the weekend, although right-back Chris Gunter will not be available.

The 27-year-old picked up his fifth yellow card of the campaign at the weekend, leaving him suspended and giving academy right-back Tennai Watson a possible chance to start against the Gunners.

Yakou Meite (ankle) and Jake Cooper (ankle) are closing in on returns after featuring in an Under-23 game at the weekend but it is thought Tuesday's match will be too soon for them.


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