It’s time to get those yellow ribbons ready!
Arsenal will face Reading in this year’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley after the Royals beat Bradford City in the 6th round replay on Monday night.
Given that we couldn’t score more goals than Bradford in 120 minutes last time we played them (exiting the League Cup on penalties in 2012 – thanks Gervinho) it’s probably best that we’re coming up against a side who we were able to give a four goal lead to in the same cup run and still managed to win the game without recourse to a shootout!
Chelsea-conquerors Bradford still harbour hopes of reaching the League One play-offs and although they made a handful of changes for the weekend game, most of the same players featured tonight. The Royals, on the other hand, are lower mid-table but safe in the Championship, and took the opportunity to rest a number of men at the weekend in a game where they made nine changes in total.
That focus paid off as Reading came flying out of the traps with two goals in the first ten minutes and Bradford’s hope of a comeback died after 60 minutes when they were reduced to 10 men before conceding a third.
Reading manager Steve Clarke said before the replay that the players believe they can win the trophy, and it will be down to Arsenal to end that dream.
On the face of it, playing the higher ranked team is a bad thing, but Arsenal’s record against Reading stands up to some scrutiny. We have a fairly balanced record against Bradford, winning nine, drawing six and losing eight. In nine domestic encounters against Reading however, the Gunners have won all nine and have never scored less than two goals.
Those with good memories will remember the aforementioned League Cup encounter back in 2012 which saw Reading go four goals up within 35 minutes, only for Arsenal to score in the 89th minute and again in the 90th minute to take the game to extra time. Three further goals for Arsenal in the additional period and just a solitary strike for Reading saw us progress 7-5 on the night in a thrilling encounter.
Theo Walcott scored a hat-trick that night, and a repeat performance at Wembley will surely see the Gunners home and dry for another finals day at the end of May.
What did she wear?