FA Cup Preview and Prediction: Reading vs Arsenal

Competition: FA Cup semi-final – Reading vs. Arsenal

Venue: Wembley Stadium – Saturday, April 18 – 17:20 BST (12:20 ET)

Match Odds: Reading 12/1 – Draw 5/1 – Arsenal 1/4

Match Preview

Reading and Arsenal clash at Wembley Stadium for the first FA Cup semi-final on Saturday evening as the Gunners look to reach a second successive final and continue the defence of their title.

Reading are undoubtedly major underdogs coming into the game as they sit eighteenth in the Championship and many will struggle to see how they can overturn Arsenal, but the beauty of this competition is that anything can happen.

Few would’ve predicted Bradford winning at Chelsea or Middlesbrough winning at Manchester City in the fourth round, so the Royals can approach the game with a nothing to lose attitude.

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Steve Clarke’s side are without a win in five games in all competitions and their last victory came in the FA Cup quarter-final replay against Bradford – the Royals have won just two of their last 12 (D5, L5). Reading have also seen off Huddersfield, Cardiff and Derby in their run to the semi-final.

Arsenal are the FA Cup holders and arguably the best team in the country right now after a run of eight straight wins has lifted them to second in the Premier League – the Gunners have also won 15 out of their last 16 domestic fixtures.

Arsene Wenger‘s last taste of defeat in the FA Cup was against Championship opposition in February 2013 when Blackburn Rovers won 1-0 in a fifth round tie at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal are undefeated in 10 FA Cup ties since then, including victories over Hull, Brighton, Middlesbrough and Manchester United in this season’s competition.

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It will be the Arsenal manager’s tenth FA Cup semi-final and should the Gunners go on to lift the famous trophy once again, they will become the most successful club in the history of the competition – they currently share the record for most FA Cup titles (11) with Manchester United.

The last time these two sides met, Arsenal ran out as 4-1 winners in a Premier League game back in March 2013. The last cup meeting between the two was that enthralling 7-5 League Cup comeback win for Arsenal in October 2012 at the Madejski Stadium after Reading had taken a 4-0 lead.

The Wembley stage is set and the FA Cup semi-final is always a great day for both sets of players and fans alike. Arsenal are heavy favourites, but Reading will relish the occasion that marks their best achievement in the competition since 1927 as they attempt to reach their first ever FA Cup final.

Team News

Reading will be delighted that striker Pavel Pogrebnyak will be available after struggling with a knee injury, although they will be without the on-loan Nathan Ake and Kwesi Appiah as they are both cup tied.

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Arsenal have rarely had so many options at their disposal in recent years as only Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are unavailable with injury. Wojciech Szczesny will start in goal as he continues his role as the ‘cup goalkeeper’, while Wenger could also rotate on-pitch slightly from the team that faced Burnley last weekend. Mathieu Debuchy and Jack Wilshere are both fully fit and available for selection.

Key Points

Reading’s last five in all competitions: L/D/D/D/L

Arsenal’s last five in all competitions: W/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: Arsenal have won all 12 of their previous matches against Reading, so the Royals will be making history if they win this one.

Key Player: Mesut Ozil – The German has put in some excellent performances in the last few months and on a big Wembley pitch, this is the type of game where he could really pull the strings and open up Reading’s defence.

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Score Prediction

Arsenal 2-0 Reading – The FA Cup is a magical competition but it’s so hard to see how a struggling Reading side are going to upset the rhythm of an Arsenal team that can’t stop winning. The Gunners will be made to work hard but should ultimately win the game comfortably.

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Euro 2016 Qualifier Preview and Prediction: England vs Lithuania

Competition: European Championship Qualifier – England vs. Lithuania

Venue: Wembley Stadium, England – Friday, March 27 – 19:45 GMT

Match Odds: England 1/9 – Draw 7/1 – Lithuania 28/1

Match Preview

England host Lithuania at Wembley this Friday in what is both sides’ fifth European Championship Qualifier. Roy Hodgson‘s men are currently top of Group E with four wins from four and go into this game expecting to keep that 100% record intact.

Hodgson will be expecting his side to impress in a game they should win and has rewarded Tottenham goal-machine Harry Kane with his first senior call-up.


Don’t Miss: Former England goal-machine claims Harry Kane must start


This is the first time the England squad have linked up since November, where they played twice in a qualifier and a friendly, winning both.

This will also be the first game Lithuania have played since November. They lost in a friendly against Ukraine and were thumped 4-0 by Switzerland in their last European Qualifier.

Lithuania currently sit fourth in Group E but are level on six points with Switzerland and Slovenia after picking up wins against Estonia and San Marino in their opening games of qualification.

This is the first time the two sides have ever met and Lithuania come into the game without a win in three. England are unbeaten in their last seven, winning six on the bounce, and should be far too strong.

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Lithuanian head coach, Igoris Pankratjevas has worked in various areas with the national side having held previous roles as assistant coach and caretaker. He will have his players pumped and will be hoping they can surprise England on their own turf.

Team News

Roy Hodgson has already had to make some revisions to his team after losing Fraser Forster, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Rose to injury. The news of Harry Kane making the squad has been well received, with many hoping he will partner Wayne Rooney up top in Friday’s game. Rooney has Sir Bobby Charlton’s international tally of 49 goals in his sights, needing just three to equal the all-time leading England record. Harry Kane’s Tottenham teammate Ryan Mason has come in as a replacement for Lallana and after an impressive season so far with his club, he too will be hoping for a chance to impress.

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Pankratjevas likes to pack out the middle of his team and when he opts for two up top we usually see one of the front men dropping back to make up a five-man midfield. Deivydas Matulevičius will more than likely spearhead the attack and he has five goals in 18 appearances for the national side. We can expect goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis to be the busier of the two stoppers and the 27 year old will be looking to make a name for himself.

Key Points

England’s last five: W/W/W/W/W

Lithuania’s last five: W/W/L/L/D

Key Stat: Goals – England have scored an average of almost three goals in each of their last five games. Both Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane will be looking to continue that trend.

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Key Player: Wayne Rooney – The England captain will be desperately looking to overtake Sir Bobby Charlton in the all-time England scorers charts but will expect his teammates to kill the game early and secure three points. Expect Rooney to put in a commanding display.

Score Prediction

England 3-0 Lithuania – Roy Hodgson will be hoping for much of the same from his side at Wembley and continue their 100% record in the qualifiers for Euro 2016. Nothing more than a win will be acceptable here and it should be a routine performance from the Three Lions.

VIDEO: Chelsea vs Tottenham – League Cup Final Preview

Chelsea face Tottenham at Wembley Stadium in the 2015 League Cup Final on Sunday. The game is a repeat of the 2008 League Cup final as Spurs came out as 2-1 winners in extra-time courtesy of a Jonathan Woodgate header.

The teams have already met twice in the Premier League this season with Chelsea winning 3-0 at Stamford Bridge before Spurs won 5-3 in that New Years Day thriller. The Blues will be looking for revenge from that loss with the first major domestic honour up for grabs in this London derby at Wembley.

The MLSGB team take a look ahead to the game and what we can expect to see from both sides. Let us know who you think will win the game below.