But upsets happen every week and with Arsenal’s inconsistent form this season – could they slip up against a team with a new manager? Or are Arsenal setting up for a flying finish to the season?
Despite a couple of high profile losses against teams placed higher in the Premier Leagueship – Arsenal’s recent home form is formidable. They are ranked 3rd at home in their last 6 games after winning 4 of them and they rank in 2nd place on form overall in the Premier League over the last 6 games.
Arsenal score at home and rank 2nd overall with an average goal ratio of 2.5 goals a game. However - as has so often been their downfall at home this season – Arsenal struggle to keep clean sheets – and rank 14th overall in the Premier League for their defensive performances at home.
With a number of injuries throughout the squad Arsenal certainly will not be at full strength for this match – but their pre-interlull and home form should see be enough to them through. But is there the potential for an upset?
In simple terms – the table doesn’t lie. Reading are 19th in the Premier League and a fair distance away from safety (level on points with the slightly disastrous yet increasingly funny horror show that is QPR).
Reading have lost their last five games and are the bottom ranked club in the Premier League for their away performances. They are ranked 17th in their attacking away performances - meaning that potentially even Arsenal stand a good chance of keeping a clean sheet.
There is very little to suggest that Reading have much hope in this game. You can even look at the famed new manager syndrome - but that shouldn’t really raise the expectations of Reading supporters as the last time Nigel Adkins took a team to the Emirates (in September) they lost 6–1. Arsenal have improved since then.
For Reading to win at the Emirates on Saturday it will require an epic performance – a performance that they haven’t produced against a team in the top 5 this season.
It’s pretty simple. Reading don’t have the luxury of time on their side. The alternative winning route is to pray that the completely inept Arsenal team show up showcasing a catalogue of their latest defensive epic fail compilations.
Actually - on reflection – I wouldn’t rule that out either……..
Arsenal 3 – Southampton 0
Do Reading have any hope or will it be a cruise for the Gunners?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald