Yeah, I meant it –wicked. What else can I say about my dear Arsenal? Being an Arsenal fan it would be normal if you have high blood pressure or once in a while a heart attack! Yesterday was one of such nights where you totally felt lost, then have an array of hope, cool down in dying minutes of full time, get ecstasy with the fifth goal, break down with Reading’s equaliser and I don’t know what other expressions to use for our late, late double.
The game was an extraordinary cup tie, the archetypal – a game of two halves. The first forty five minutes excluding the injury time was dominated by Reading.They had 5-6 corners in the first 10 minutes and their attacking play was rewarded with a goal from Roberts-a decent cross and ball into the top corner, 1-0. Reading kept on pushing and Koscienly with his trademark style intercepted the ball into his own net (same own goal as against Man City), 2-0.
And my goodness time only 20 minutes went by. I felt good cause I thought we had enough time to score back. But what followed immediately was another goal from Leigertwood. He shot it just from outside of the box, and when everyone thought Martinez had made an outstanding save, only to watch the ball roll back in our own net, 3-0.
We tried to get back into the game by passing the ball well, but couldn’t make any inroads into their defence. Added to the dismay, Hunt nodded in home from Gunter’s cross, 4-0.
The Madejski Stadium was wittnessing one of the worst Arsenal defeats of all time, that’s what everyone including Wenger thought at that time. Arsenal fans were chanting ‘We want our Arsenal back’ and as if they heard them Arshavin threaded in a through ball and the speed demon Walcott with superb ball control lobbed it over the keeper - a chip Vela would have been proud of, 4-1.
What Wenger spoke in the dressing room will not be known but it seems it had its effects.Walcott hit the side nettings, Chamakh had a penalty appeal turned down, and Walcott again was inches away from connecting to a great Jenkinson cross.
Reading too had a few chances but not as dangerous. Every battle is won with some decisive decisions and here it arrived with the introduction of Giroud and Eisfeld; they changed the game completely.
Giroud’s first touch was an absolutely superb header when he steered Walcott’s cornet into the net - 4-2. Arsenal continued to batter down Reading with the likes of Giroud, Walcott, Eisfeld, and Andrei testing the keeper but to no success. And in the 89th minute another Walcott corner was headed by Koscienly to make it 4-3.
Four minutes of extra time time was coming to an end until Walcott slotted home ..YES, we have done it in the 95th minute, 4-4. Full time whistle was blown.
The Madejski Stadium was witnessing football at its pinnacle and they were waiting for the extra time with half of the supporters biting their nails except two players, Giroud and Coquelin, who felt the game was over and they had their shirts thrown to supporters only to ask them back.
Just before the end of first half of extra time, Chamakh SCORED, and that too from outside the box, 5-4. The goal was after some nice buildup play between Chamakh and Giroud.When it seemed everything was settled, Pogrebnyak scored from a header which appeared to be offside, 5-5.
Time tickled by and when everyone believed the game was going to penalties, Arsenal countered and Walcott’s shot just went outside of the post. But Arshavin then went on a run through the left wing and his shot-cum-shot was rebounded back to Walcott who smashed into the net, 6-5. Reading’s players went up the pitch and Chamakh finished off the rituals with a fine chip over the stranded Federici, 7-5. The full time whistle was finally blown and an epic match came to an end.
Speaking about the performances of players, Frimpong was a bit of concern. He lacked energy and didn’t’ track back. Gnarby, too, didn’t impress much but he seems to be a very intelligent player, and still has a bright future ahead of him. Koscienly is low on confidence but more playing time should help him.
Jenkinson again showed he is a class apart. Coquelin had a superb last 60minutes with tackles and lot of interceptions. Walcott finishing and crossing has improved vastly, it seems. Arshavin too worked hard, both in defense and attack - but he could have done better with some through balls. Chamakh was simply superb in the extra time.Giroud in my opinion was the game changer. The Frenchman was so athletic; he was shooting, passing, pushing, and fighting for every ball. Eisfeld looks like a player with a very bright future ahead of him. He showed his passing vision as well his vision, and seems technically superb.
This was a night of football which will live in the memories of all fans whichever club they support. It was an astonishing night – an absolute classic.
Written by Alfin Thomas
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