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Preview: Arsenal v Reading, team news, 18yr old starts + prediction
Arsenal welcome Championship side Reading to the Emirates Stadium this evening for our EFL Cup last 16 clash.
We eased to a 4-0 victory at Nottingham Forest in the previous round so Arsene Wenger will be hoping for a similar result on home soil tonight.
Our seven game winning streak came to an end with Saturday’s disappointing 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough but the good news is we’re still sitting level on points at the top of the table.
As we all know, the League Cup is never a top priority heading in to the season but it’s a competition Wenger has never won and with all of our closest rivals playing each other, this years competition is wide open.
Reading arrive at the Emirates off the back of a solid start to the season with a 1-0 win at Rotherham on Saturday seeing Jaap Stam’s side move up to eighth in the Championship table.
I’m sure you’ll all remember the last time we played the Royals in the League Cup as we came from 4-0 down to win 7-5 in a thriller back in 2012. Let’s hope we get another goal-fest this evening.
Wenger has confirmed he’s going to make wholesale changes to his starting eleven with the boss set to give his star men a breather.
Kieran Gibbs, Gabriel and Rob Holding are confirmed starters in defence along with Carl Jenkinson, with the right-back set to make his first start since recovering from a knee injury.
The boss has also confirmed that 18-year-old attacker Jeff Reine-Adelaide will play tonight alongside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alex Iwobi and Lucas Perez.
Olivier Giroud is also back in the squad after recovering from a toe injury but this game comes too soon for Aaron Ramsey – despite the Welshman returning to full training.
Emi Martinez played in the last round so I expect he’ll take the gloves tonight while Mohamed Elneny should get a run out in midfield.
Santi Cazorla is still out with an achilles problem while Granit Xhaka is suspended, so they are out along with Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck.
It’s always difficult to predict these types of games as we’ll be fielding a weakened team and nobody really knows how well they’ll gel together. However, we were impressive in the last round and the team above is still packed with quality so I fully expect a comfortable win tonight. Arsenal 3-0 Reading
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