Reading v Arsenal as it happened

Live text commentary as Arsenal thrash bottom side Reading in the Premier League, with Santi Cazorla scoring a hat-trick for the Gunners.

17 December 2012 Last updated at 22:28 GMT

Get involved

To get involved contact us in any of the following ways

As it happened

  1. 2220: 

    Right, that's all for tonight. I asked for some goals after a pretty lifeless Sunday in the Premier League, and that match certainly didn't disappoint. You don't have to wait too long for more live football from us - Phil Dawkes will be along on Wednesday to bring you coverage of Leeds v Chelsea in the Capital One Cup quarter-final. Enjoy.

  2. 2217:  
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer at the Madejski StadiumReading 2-5 Arsenal

    "Arsenal win comfortably to ease the pain of that Capital One Cup loss at Bradford. As for Reading, they had the unmistakeable look of a team locked right on course for relegation."

  3. 2217: 

    Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: "It was important to stay strong and play football. Success comes with playing football. And it was a very convincing win tonight."

    On playing Theo Walcott up front: "I felt first of all that Olivier Giroud needed a little breather because it is an intense first season. I put Walcott in that position in training and he convinced me before this game he could do it."

  4. 2213: 

    Arsenal forward Theo Walcott after playing as the Gunners' main striker and scoring their fifth goal: "I showed what I can do. I was quite happy with the performance and running into space and creating space behind me."

    On his contract situation: "It's one of those things which will take time. I've said in the past I want to have more opportunities to play up front."


    Steve P in Leytonstone via text: "Ready for a bigger pasting on Saturday, Reading? City won't be taking any prisoners in a bid to catch us (Utd)!"


    Rod in Yeovil via text: "Cannot see any way Reading will avoid the drop. Pretty much every side has easily outplayed them."


    Tom Dutton on Twitter: "Why do people think this will prove Wenger is the man for the job? All they have done is beaten a Championship team!"


    Rodriguez on Twitter: "Dear Wenger, With this win, it doesn't mean you don't spend in January, Thank You."

  9. 2206: 

    Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere: "Any sort of victory tonight would have been welcomed. The boss put three up front and it worked. Now we've got to push on."

    On Santi Cazorla, who scored a hat-trick: "His all-round play is great. It's tough for anyone to come from Spain into the Premier League, but he makes it look so easy."

  10. 2202:  
    Steve Claridge, BBC Radio 5 live summariser at the Madejski Stadium

    "Arsenal were good in the first half and Reading were totally inept. But when Reading started to put pressure on Arsenal in the second half, they looked a bit vulnerable and conceded two goals."

  11. 2200: 

    I don't know about anyone else, but if there's one game I want to see in the second half of this season, it's Reading's trip to Arsenal. In the teams' two games this season - or 210 minutes - there have been 19 goals. That's a goal every 11.052 minutes.

  12. 2155:  
    Steve Claridge, BBC Radio 5 live summariser at the Madejski Stadium

    "Theo Walcott definitely showed things to work from tonight. He was in a no-win situation in some ways because it was "only" Reading, but he did OK."

  13. 2153: 

    What a difference a week makes for Arsenal. This time last Tuesday, they were enduring a miserable evening against League Two Bradford. Six days on, they've produced one of their best attacking displays of the season. If they could only find some consistency, they could be challenging the top two on this basis.

  14. 2149: 
    FULL-TIME- Reading 2-5 Arsenal
  15. 2148: 

    Olivier Giroud almost gets in on the act as he meets another Lukas Podolski's left-wing cross, but the ball arrives at an awkward height and the Frenchman shoots over.

  16. 2147: 

    There are going to be three minutes of added time at the Madejski Stadium.

  17. 2145: 

    Arsenal might not be finished yet. They're continuing to press and probe around the edge of the Reading area.


    David in Reading via text: "I guess Wenger will be a tactical genius this week?"

  19. 2143: 

    Plenty of Reading fans leaving now with five minutes left. That fifth goal has taken the sting out of the contest.

  20. 2141: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Olivier Giroud for Theo Walcott - Arsenal (85 mins)

    Michael Blighe on Twitter: "Poor Reading, they've banged in 13 goals against top teams (Chelsea, Spurs, Man Utd and Arsenal) with nothing to show for it."

  22. 2139: 

    Reading will be delighted to see the back of Santi Cazorla. The Spaniard has been absolutely brilliant throughout.

  23. 2138: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Francis Coquelin for Santi Cazorla - Arsenal (83 mins)
  24. 2135: 
    GOAL- Reading 2-5 Arsenal - Theo Walcott (80 mins)

    That's the moment Theo Walcott has been waiting for. Santi Cazorla - obviously - tees up the England international inside the area, and Walcott cuts inside his marker on the right-hand side of the box and strokes the ball beyond Adam Federici from 12 yards. Game over, surely.

  25. 2135:  
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer at the Madejski Stadium

    "Suddenly the stadium has come to life. Reading have, if nothing else, at least moved towards respectability."

  26. 2134: 

    Another goal for Reading, you sense, would make Arsenal very, very nervy. Twelve minutes to go.


    John Burke, Harrow, via text: "Michu , Benteke, Cazorla. I really do not know who to choose for signing of the summer."

    Mike, Stockport, via text: "People seem to be forgetting that for every game Cazorla has in which he's irresistible, he's had two games in which he's utterly anonymous."

    Dirk in south Wales, via text: "Come on now Gunners, steady the ship a bit please."

    Ben Askins via text: "Arsenal have no idea how to simply close a game out. It is full out attack all the time and they are inevitably hit on the break. All they had to do was keep the ball away from Reading like United do so well but now they face a nervous half hour."

    Pete, worried, via text: "Shades of St James' Park and 4-4 coming back to haunt us."

  28. 2133: 

    The Reading fans might have been unhappy with their team in the first half, but they can't have too many complaints about how they've responded since the break. This has been much better from the Royals in the last 15 minutes or so.

  29. 2130: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Aaron Ramsey for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - Arsenal (73 mins)
  30. 2130: 

    All of a sudden, this game seems in the balance. The Gunners look nervy in defence but manage to scramble the ball away after some confusion in their own box, then Santi Cazorla races to the other end and shoots from 25 yards, but Adam Federici parries to safety.

  31. 2129: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Garath McCleary for Jimmy Kebe - Reading (73 mins)
  32. 2126: 
    GOAL- Reading 2-4 Arsenal - Jimmy Kebe (71 mins)

    What did I say about a comeback being unlikely? Jimmy Kebe squeezes in between a couple of Arsenal defenders to latch onto a through-ball and slots calmly past Wojciech Szczesny from 12 yards. Surely they can't, can they?

  33. 2126: 

    There are just over 20 minutes left at the Madejski Stadium. While a comeback looks pretty unlikely, Reading will be grateful to have stemmed the tide with that goal.


    Matt Bickerton, via text: "I'm sure most would agree that Michu was the signing of the summer, but I'd also like to think that most would put Cazorla second on that list."

    Lee, Newcastle, via text: "Yes, it is against Reading, but they earned their place in the best league in England. Cazorla is showing just how much of a class act he really is!"

  35. 2122: 
    GOAL- Reading 1-4 Arsenal - Adam Le Fondre (66 mins)

    There doesn't appear to be any danger, but Kieran Gibbs carelessly gives the ball away to Jay Tabb 35 yards from the Arsenal goal. Tabb sends a lovely through ball to Adam Le Fondre, who rounds Wojciech Szczesny and taps in from a few yards out. Very well-taken by the substitute.

  36. 2121:  
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer at the Madejski Stadium

    "Santi Cazorla's hat-trick goal summed up the night. Arsenal creating space superbly and using it to ruthless effect. Fine, unselfish work by Lukas Podolski and a simple finish by the Spaniard."


    Richie Wormald on Twitter: "Santi has come a week early!!"

    Paul Thompson on Twitter: "Santi makes his presents felt yet again..."

    I see what you did there...

  38. 2120: 

    That strike for Santi Cazorla takes him into an elite group of three Spaniards to have scored a Premier League hat-trick - Fernando Torres and Jordi Gomez being the others.

  39. 2118: 

    Hal Robson-Kanu and Adam Le Fondre replace Pavel Pogrebnyak and Noel Hunt for Reading.

  40. 2115: 
    GOAL- Reading 0-4 Arsenal - Santi Cazorla (60 mins)

    What a goal, and that is classic Arsenal. Jack Wilshere finds Lukas Podolski inside the area on the left-hand side and the German crosses for Santi Cazorla, who is on hand to tap in from six yards for his hat-trick. A brilliant team goal, and a thoroughly deserved hat-trick for Cazorla.


    Andy on Twitter: "Literacy levels must be up in England, no-one seems to have trouble with Reading."

  42. 2115: 

    Reading are still struggling to keep the ball when they do get it. After a brief spell of possession, they lose it and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain forces a corner on the right. Reading defend it well though, leading to a second, but that is also cleared.

  43. 2113: 

    Arsenal's midfield players look like they're enjoying this. Lukas Podolski, after a spell of possession, finds Theo Walcott 20 yards out, but the England international shoots wide. He's certainly a threat, even if he hasn't got his goal yet.

  44. 2111: 

    Difficult to know quite what to make of Theo Walcott's performance as a central striker so far. His movement is certainly causing Reading problems, but he hasn't quite been able to capitalise on the couple of chances he's had. Overall, though, I'd say he's done pretty well.

    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer at the Madejski Stadium

    "Walcott almost adds a fourth. Instant chants of 'Wenger Wenger Sign Him Up' from Arsenal's fans."

  46. 2109:  
    Steve Claridge, BBC Radio 5 live summariser at the Madejski Stadium

    "I've seen Arsenal already give the ball away three times - they didn't give the ball away three times in the whole of the first half. That's because Reading have been putting more pressure on the ball."

  47. 2108: 

    Reading haven't learned, have they? Jack Wilshere has time and space in midfield to pick a pass to Theo Walcott, who races down the right and shoots low from an angle. The ball is past Adam Federici, but Adrian Mariappa sticks out a long leg to keep the ball out. Good defending in the end, but he might wonder where the midfield were in the first place.


    James, via text: "As a life-long Reading fan...... this is painful. Where do we go from here? Well I will tell you...... back to the Championship!!"

  49. 2104:  
    Steve Claridge, BBC Radio 5 live summariser at the Madejski Stadium

    "Fair enough, Reading can start the second half with the same XI, but change the formation slightly. They will be better this half, I promise you. They have matched up against Arsenal with Jay Tabb sitting on Mikel Arteta and everyone else with a man."

    Live second-half commentary from the Madejski is underway on BBC Radio 5 live.

  50. 2104: 

    A reminder that Reading are staring at the possibility of a sixth straight league defeat unless there is a dramatic turnaround pretty soon.

  51. 2103: 

    Not quite the start Reading would have wanted to the second period. Yet again, an Arsenal attacker has space to run in to. This time it's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who screws a shot high and wide from 25 yards.

  52. 2101: 
    KICK-OFF - SECOND HALF- Reading 0-3 Arsenal

    Back under way at the Madejski.


    Opta Joe on Twitter: "36 - This is the 36th time that Arsenal have found themselves 3+ goals ahead at HT in a PL game; more often than any other side. Dominant."

  54. 2100: 

    In non Reading-Arsenal news, we've got a transfer story for you ahead of the January window. Wigan Athletic will sign Honduras international Roger Espinoza next month after he was granted a work permit. If that doesn't whet your appetite for a month of comings and goings, I don't know what will.


    Hugh Moxon on Twitter: "Unfortunately Reading this is what happens when a bunch of Championship players play in the Premier League."

    Greg Matthews on Twitter: "What on earth Everton were playing at when they gifted this awful Reading team their only win this season I really don't know."

    Rhys Hardstaff on Twitter: "The crisis is not down to our league position. Its due to the fact we are already 15 points behind the leaders!"

  56. 2056: 

    What do Reading do now? Push forward and leave gaps for Arsenal, who have been excellent on the counter-attack, to exploit? Or sit back and try to stop this becoming embarrassing? I wouldn't fancy being a player in that dressing-room at the moment.


    From Jack, a concerned Arsenal fan, via text: "After the kind of football we've seen in 2012, no footballing fan, including Reading's, can think this game is anywhere near over."

    Matt, York, via text: "Optimism creeping back purely through Walcott being where he and most Gooners want him to be. Even if he doesn't score, Reading, as most teams would be, are wary of his pace giving Santi space."

    Mike, Arsenal fan, via text: "I've forgotten what it feels like to be ahead."

  58. 2054:  
    Steve Claridge, BBC Radio 5 live summariser at the Madejski Stadium

    "The 4-4-2 formation doesn't help Reading because they don't know how to play against Arsenal using that formation. Every time Arsenal have the ball they work space with little triangle and one-twos - they're just isolating Reading in certain parts of the pitch. Reading don't know whether to squeeze the ball, but when they do they're only doing it in twos or threes, or sit back and then Arsenal are picking them off. They're getting overrun."

    You can listen to live commentary of the second-half from the Madejski on BBC Radio 5 live.

  59. 2052:  
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer at the Madejski StadiumReading 0-3 Arsenal

    "That was an embarrassing first half for Reading as Arsenal cut them to shreds ruthlessly, summed up by home fans mocking their own team when they strung several passes together."

  60. 2050: 

    So, this game is over, right? On the basis of that first half, you wouldn't give Reading much hope in the second period. But you never know - according to Infostrada, the last time Arsenal led by at least three goals at half-time in a Premier League away match, they ended up drawing. In that game, at Newcastle in February 2011, the Gunners were actually 4-0 up and ended drawing 4-4.

  61. 2047:  
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer at the Madejski Stadium

    "Brutal stuff this. Arsenal are light years ahead of Reading and this has been a very painful first half for Brian McDermott's team."

  62. 2046: 
    HALF-TIME- Reading 0-3 Arsenal
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer at the Madejski Stadium

    "Reading fans cheering ironically as they string some passes together. Not entirely sure that's helpful."

  64. 2045: 

    We're into one minute of added time.

  65. 2045: 

    But they didn't have the ball for long. Alex Oxalde Chamberlain meets Bacary Sagna's right-wing cross eight yards out, but his header is clawed away by Adam Federici.

  66. 2044: 

    A few ironic cheers from the home fans as, for the first time in quite some time, their side string a few passes together.


    Paul, via text: "This won't be 7-5 but at this rate it will be 7-0. Reading are awful and going down."

  68. 2042: 

    This is in danger of getting much, much worse for Reading. More intricate play from Arsenal down the left involving Kieran Gibbs and Santi Cazorla leads to Lukas Podolski smashing goalwards from 15 yards, but Adrian Mariappa hurls himself in front of the ball to block.


    Ellis Hatch on Twitter: "I get Reading's tactic - go 4-0 down then surprise Arsenal by finishing 7-5. Clever."

    Sham Gallagher on Twitter: "Are Arsenal playing a training session?"


    Paul, Manchester, via text: "I thought my 6-1 bet on Arsenal was ludicrous at first but now its on! Come on Arsenal."

    From Mich via text: "Like a hot knife through butter."

  71. 2040: 

    Although now, with 38 minutes gone rather than 36, Arsenal are lagging behind. Reading were 4-0 up by now in their recent Capital One Cup meeting.

  72. 2038: 

    Just a little point. Arsenal are 3-0 up at exactly the same stage Reading were 3-0 up in the cup tie in October. We're on for 7-5...

    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer at the Madejski Stadium

    "Cazorla makes it 3-0 for Arsenal. Jeers from the Reading fans. Too much pace. Too much space. Has the capacity to get even more messy."

  74. 2037:  
    Steve Claridge, BBC Radio 5 live summariser at the Madejski Stadium

    "Arsenal's second goal - that's what I've been talking about. When you've got wide players get them wide and then the midfielders can get into the box. You don't have to be six foot six - Cazorla arrives in the box and it's 2-0. Then Cummings, and I know he's a young lad, allows Podolski to get to the line too early for the third - you can see where the Arsenal winger wants to go. This is just so easy for Arsenal."

  75. 2034: 
    GOAL- Reading 0-3 Arsenal - Santi Cazorla (35 mins)

    Oh dear, Reading are in big trouble now. Lukas Podolski crosses, this time from the right, Kieran Gibbs - supposedly a defender but playing effectively as a left-winger at the moment - nods down for Santi Cazorla, and the Spaniard controls, swivels and smashes home. Very, very good play by Arsenal.

  76. 2031: 
    GOAL- Reading 0-2 Arsenal - Santi Cazorla (32 mins)

    Arsenal have the second goal their play has deserved, and again the opening comes from the left wing. Lukas Podolski sends over a cross and Santi Cazorla steals in between a static home defence to nod home from six yards. Reading can have no complaints.

  77. 2031: 
    Lukas Podolski (left) celebrates scoring for Arsenal

    Lukas Podolski's goal was also the 32nd that Reading have conceded this season in the Premier League. Along with Southampton and Wigan, that is the most in the division this season.

  78. 2030: 

    After the criticism they received in the wake of that loss to Bradford, this has been exactly the kind of response Arsene Wenger must have asked for from his players. But the more chances they spurn, the more the doubts might start to creep in.

  79. 2029: 

    Lukas Podolski's goal means Reading's goalless draw with Norwich on 10 November remains their only clean sheet in the Premier League this season. This is their 17th fixture.

  80. 2029:  
    Steve Claridge, BBC Radio 5 live summariser at the Madejski Stadium

    "There's a lack of movement from Reading and a lack of players who want to receive the ball. Brian McDermott is going to have to change shape because there are getting bypassed in every part of the pitch by Arsenal."

  81. 2028: 

    For all Arsenal's dominance, Reading have now had two very presentable opening. This time, Pavel Pogrebnyak's curled run beats the offside trap and he crosses from the left, but his ball is hacked clear by Thomas Vermaelen.

  82. 2027: 

    The Gunners create another chance, as Kieran Gibbs's cross finds its way to Jack Wilshere 12 yards out. The England midfielder volleys goalwards, but Adam Federici springs to his right to parry away.

  83. 2026: 

    But that's cleared easily enough by Noel Hunt. This is all looking a little too easy for Arsenal at the moment.

  84. 2025: 

    More Arsenal possession in and around the Reading penalty area and they force a corner on the right-hand side.


    Baz, Mansfield, via text: "Oh dear, another evening devoted to how good an Arsenal player is until Reading get back into it. Then the Wenger bashing can start."

  86. 2022: 

    That was Theo Walcott's first real sight of goal. His pace and movement left the Reading defenders standing but he couldn't quite supply the finish.

  87. 2022: 

    Reading could be in trouble here if they don't tighten up at the back. First, Lukas Podolski shoots wide, then Theo Walcott races on to Santi Cazorla's pass, finds himself one-on-one with Adam Federici inside the area but the keeper stands up and blocks.

  88. 2020:  
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer at the Madejski Stadium

    "Quite a few empty seats at the Madejski Stadium and the atmosphere is subdued after Arsenal's goal. Reading need something to happen to lift their spirits here."


    Stephen Orwin on Twitter: "Reading when will you learn? You cannot use Championship tactics versus Premier League teams. Deserved. And that's from a Reading fan."

    Kevin Beirne on Twitter: "Feel Arsenal fans have been harsh on Podolski. People saying he's a flop even though he's not had a run as a striker."

    Robert Ladak on Twitter: "Arsenal have missed a trick here. We have a striker who has scored for fun for Germany and we stick him out wide."

  90. 2019: 

    Arsenal look like they're enjoying this. They're getting time and space in midfield and Santi Cazorla almost punishes them, unleashing a fine drive from 30 yards which swerves past Adam Federici's left-hand post.

  91. 2017: 

    For all the criticism they've had of late, the Gunners are, according to Infostrada, unbeaten in the league this season when they've taken the lead and, given their excellent record against Reading, the signs are certainly looking good for Arsene Wenger's side right now.

  92. 2016:  
    Steve Claridge, BBC Radio 5 live summariser at the Madejski Stadium

    "Firstly it's too easy for Gibbs to get the ball in there, but secondly what a great touch by Podolski. It was a fantastic first touch from the German after getting between the two Reading defenders. There are three or four defenders around him in the box, but he gets all the time in the world to steer it into the corner."

  93. 2013: 
    GOAL- Reading 0-1 Arsenal - Lukas Podolski (14 mins)

    If Arsenal had any nerves following their defeat by Bradford last week, they should be gone now. Kieran Gibbs crosses from the left and picks out Lukas Podolski, who controls instantly and smashes the ball beyond Adam Federici from eight yards for his fifth goal of the season. Lovely play by the Gunners.


    Talking Sport on Twitter: "Hope Reading have learned from their mistakes and don't do anything stupid like take a 4-0 lead."

  95. 2012: 

    And the Royals again go close to taking the lead, Noel Hunt rising high to meet the right-wing delivery but sending his glancing header over the bar. More encouraging signs for Reading.

  96. 2010: 

    There's a vibrant tempo to this match early on. No sooner have Arsenal been threatening than Reading force a corner.

  97. 2010: 

    Reading will be encouraged by that opening, although they really ought to have scored. Pavel Pogrebnyak got in behind Kieran Gibbs very easily.

  98. 2009: 

    Close for Reading. Pavel Pogrebnyak plays a clever one-two on the right wing, breaks into the area at pace and crosses for Jobi McAnuff, whose shot skews off target.

  99. 2007: 

    Theo Walcott has his first tentative sight of goal, firing in a free-kick from distance which fizzes wide of Adam Federici's goal. The keeper had it covered in truth.

  100. 2006:  
    Steve Claridge, BBC Radio 5 live summariser at the Madejski Stadium

    "Arsenal's two full-backs are pushing on and their two wingers are coming inside. It's congested and Arsenal are going down a blind alley. The away side need to keep their wingers wide and get the ball out to them."

  101. 2005: 

    There's a lively atmosphere at the Madejski. The home fans haven't had too much to cheer so far this season - in fact their side have won only one of their last 10 Premier League games on their own turf - but they're in good voice tonight.

  102. 2003: 

    As expected, Theo Walcott has begun in a central role up front for Arsenal. There's certainly plenty of pace in the Gunners attack - Reading will have to guard against any quick breaks from the visitors.

  103. 2002: 

    Fine start by Arsenal. The Gunners break at pace and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain drives in a shot from 20 yards, which Adam Federici parries down to his right.

  104. 2001:  
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer at the Madejski Stadium

    "Walcott still has to convince some of true worth - but are Arsenal so blessed with quality they can afford to lose him? Not in my opinion."

  105. 2000: 
    KICK-OFF- Reading v Arsenal (2000 GMT)

    And we're off...

  106. 2000: 

    John in Leicester via text: "I'm playing it safe and calling a 9-8, featuring a Shaun Cummings extra time hat-trick. You heard it here first!"

    Rob in Brighton via test: "Theo's time to shine tonight, see him causing all kinds of problems and bagging himself a brace. Easy arsenal win. Rob in Brighton."

  107. 1958: 

    I don't want to dampen any Reading enthusiasm, but history is very much in Arsenal's favour in this one. The teams have met 10 times, with the Gunners winning on every single occasion, at a combined score of 28-9. Can the Royals end that dismal record?

  108. 1956:  
    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer at the Madejski Stadium

    "'The Impossible Dream' being played at Reading - apparently became a bit of a favourite with the home fans last season."

  109. 1956: 

    The teams are on the pitch at the Madejski Stadium and we're nearly ready for kick-off.


    Daniel Bedborough on Twitter: "We are in the last 16 of the CL, still in the FA cup and win this and we're 2 points of 4th, crisis? what crisis?"

    Avigar on Twitter: "Wenger is not to blame. It's the policies that the board impose that results in Arsenal underperforming eg selling top players."


    Alex, Birmingham, via text: "Reading are on a one-way trip to Backlashville tonight. Arsenal aren't just going to bring home the bacon, but the whole hog! Arsene will have his team pumped!"

    Lucy, Sheffield, via text: "Re Adan Shennan. I can think of rather a lot of teams who would prefer their current front four, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea... ad that's just in England. Cazorla on his own is a different matter - a class act."

    Rob, Brighton, via text: "Theo's time to shine tonight, see him causing all kinds of problems and bagging himself a brace. Easy Arsenal win."

  112. 1953: 

    While Theo Walcott's contract situation continues to remain unresolved, there was some much-needed good news for the Gunners this week, with England midfielder Jack Wilshere revealing he is in talks and "probably will be committing my future in the next couple of weeks".

  113. 1951: 

    If, as looks likely, Theo Walcott does start up front for Arsenal, it's an intriguing call by Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman is known for his stubborn nature, but it seems he's granting the England international his wish tonight. Is it just a coincidence that it comes two weeks before the start of the January transfer window, particularly as Walcott's contract expires in the summer.

  114. 1949:  
    Steve Claridge, BBC Radio 5 live summariser at the Madejski Stadium

    "Theo Walcott says his contract situation is not about money - he's said that from the outset and we've got to believe him. Up front is the position he wants to play and he's not entirely convinced in the wide right position.

    "He might come across one dimensional to play as a striker at this time, but it's about the other players around him. Away from home they will look to use his pace over the top. But at home he will have to use intelligence and might have to learn that role. Others like Nicolas Anelka and Thierry Henry have done that over the years at Arsenal.

    "Wenger has decided to play him up front as his contract situation rumbles on. Is it a coincidence or more than that? Perhaps he is saying: 'This is where you want to play and here's your opportunity.'"

    Live commentary from the Madejski begins at 20:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live.

  115. 1947: 

    "Arsene Wenger has earned the right to be given a go at improving his team in the transfer market when the window opens in January," says Lawrenson. "He needs a couple of players and, if he needs to pay over the odds to get them, then he has to do it. It's January, and that's what happens. It might go against Wenger's principles but it is worth it if those two new players help to get them in the Champions League next season. What he needs more than anything, though, are characters, because I don't think he's got enough in his team at the moment."

  116. 1946: 

    BBC football expert Mark Lawrenson is expecting a more subdued affair than the one we saw in October, but he still expects a similar outcome. He's also been having his say on Arsene Wenger…


    Adan Shennan on Twitter: Can't get over how deadly Arsenal team look on paper, yet still under perform. Who wouldn't want Cazorla-Ox-Theo-Poldi front 4?

    Glenn Tosek on Twitter: "Huge chance for Walcott to prove himself up top tonight. So influential as a right winger, time to put money where his mouth is."

  118. 1941: 

    After what can only be described as an underwhelming day of Premier League action on Sunday, we could certainly do with these sides conjuring up something similar to that Capital One Cup goal-fest, which must surely rank as the game of the season so far. My money, then, is on a 0-0.


    Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong, currently on loan at Charlton, on Twitter: "Good luck to Arsenal tonight. I fancy a Giroud goal - am never wrong."

  120. 1938: 
    LINE-UPS- Reading v Arsenal (2000 GMT)

    Reading: Federici, Cummings, Gorkss, Mariappa, Shorey, McAnuff, Leigertwood, Tabb, Kebe, Hunt, Pogrebnyak. Subs: Taylor, Gunter, Pearce, Le Fondre, McCleary, Robson-Kanu, Harte.

    Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Podolski. Subs: Mannone, Koscielny, Rosicky, Giroud, Ramsey, Coquelin, Gervinho.

    Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)


    Abel, London, via text: "Arsene Wenger is still the man to guide us to success, players need to step up!"

    James, on a coach somewhere in the Midlands: "Wenger is getting a huge amount of stick from some fans, but I still think he's the guy to get the team to 4th place. In wenger we trust!"

    Oli, London, via text: "Arsene Wenger is entwined into the fabric of AFC. The club will not make any rash decisions, but the long term future of the club needs to be addressed. It is time for bold action from Kroenke and the Board. Come on Stan get your cheque book out!"

  122. 1935: 

    Reading boss Brian McDermott is hoping victory against Arsenal - the club with whom he began his playing career - will kickstart the Royals' season. "I can't guarantee 12 goals this time, but we have been looking forward to this one for a long time," he told Sky Sports.

    "One of the biggest problems for teams is fundamentally they give up. We could have given up last season when we were 20 points behind the Championship leaders, but we didn't and went on to win it. We've got to stay in there. We want to turn it tonight."


    Subhashish Dash on Twitter: "Undoubtedly, Wenger should stay...!! A couple of good games against Reading and Wigan will ooze back confidence in the team."

    Thomas Fairbrother on Twitter: "Arguably Arsenal's strongest possible starting eleven tonight. If they don't get a result..."

  124. 1931: 
    Reading v Arsenal (2000 GMT)

    Reading boss Brian McDermott makes three changes to the starting XI which limped to a 3-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Sunderland. His attacking options have been boosted by the returns of Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak and Mali winger Jimmy Kebe, who has been missing through injury since early November. Kaspars Gorkss starts in the centre of the Royals defence in place of Alex Pearce.

    There are also a trio of changes for Arsenal, with Theo Walcott looking set to play in the central striking role which he craves. Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain line up in midfield after being named substitutes in the embarrassing Capital One Cup defeat at Bradford City.


    Joey Barton on Twitter: "Wouldn't wanna see a fellow pro banned for a long period but you gotta' love the FA's consistency, haven't you? #felliani"

  126. 1927: 

    In case you missed it, in the last hour or so Marouane Fellaini has been banned for three games after Everton chose not to appeal against his FA charge for headbutting Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross.


    Damian Adewumi on Twitter: "Think Wenger wants to avert the coming doom, so he gives Walcott striking role to make him sign a new contract asp. Good line-up."


    Former Reading player Ady Williams on Twitter: "Right, let's get ready to rumble!!... Urzz"


    Saqueeb Rajan on Twitter: "A six pointer for both teams! Never would have thought I'd say that and Arsenal in the same sentence."

  130. 1923: 

    That's a bit of a taster about where these two teams are at right now, but what do you think? Arsenal fans, are you happy with Arsene Wenger? Is the criticism unjust? Do you agree with George Graham, who says the Frenchman is "without a question" the best man to ensure they continue to qualify for the Champions League, or has he taken the club as far as he can? And Reading fans, what about Brian McDermott? Surely he deserves time, doesn't he? Let us know your views by tweeting us using #bbcfootball or via text on 81111 (UK only).

  131. 1920:  
    Phil McNulty at Madejski Stadium, BBC Sport Chief Football Writer

    "Crucial night for Reading and Arsenal at the Madejski Stadium. Arsenal will try to repair some of the damage inflicted by the Capital One Cup quarter-final defeat at League Two Bradford City while Reading are rooted to the bottom of the table and desperately require a second Premier League win this season. The Capital One Cup tie here earlier this season ended in a remarkable 7-5 win for Arsenal - you suspect either side will settle for a single goal winning margin tonight."

  132. 1917: 

    If Reading - surely low on confidence - require a morale boost, they should look back to that first half against Arsenal, when they tore through the Gunners and scored at will. They showed then, as well as at times during their recent 4-3 defeat by Manchester United, that they can trouble the Premier League's top teams. Tonight, their challenge is not just to match Arsenal for some of the game, but to do so for long enough to take a much-needed three points. Beat the north London side and their prospects suddenly look a whole lot brighter.

  133. 1913: 

    Theo Walcott has overcome a calf problem and starts for Arsenal. Good news for the Gunners, but perhaps not greeted so fondly in the Reading dressing-room - the winger scored a hat-trick at the Madejski Stadium in October.

    Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer at the Madejski Stadium

    "At Reading for tonight's game with Arsenal. Fully expect another 12-goal thriller in the style of the Capital One Cup."

  135. 1910: 

    Don't forget there is also full commentary of tonight's match at the Madejski Stadium from 20:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live. Before kick-off, Mark Chapman presents a 'mini' Monday Night Club which features Queens Park Rangers defender Clint Hill discussing his mercurial team-mate Adel Taarabt, plus chat about today's biggest football stories.

    You can listen by clicking here.

  136. 1907: 

    Striker Pavel Pogrebnyak returns for Reading after two games out injured. It's his first start since 27 October.

  137. 1906: 

    One thing Reading will have to draw on if they are to get out of trouble is the kind of team spirit that helped them on their remarkable surge to the Championship title last season, when they picked up 46 points from a possible 51. So they could do without any more incidents like the one last week, when midfielder Danny Guthrie refused to travel with the squad for their game at Sunderland. Still, he's apologised now, so that should be that.


    Opta Joe on Twitter: "0.88 - Of teams to have played 15+ PL games in the month of December, Reading have the second-lowest points-per-game ratio (0.88). Scrooge."


    Abel Kaludzu on Twitter: "I got a feeling that tonight is gonna be a good night! #afc #arsenal"

  140. 1900: 

    That next game comes tonight, against the Premier League's bottom club Reading. On the plus side for Arsenal, if they want to feel better about their own situation they need only look at the Royals' current plight. Bottom of the league, six points from safety and entering this match on the back of five straight defeats, Brian McDermott's men are in danger of finding themselves cut adrift before the New Year.

  141. 1857: 

    Despite heavy criticism from supporters, Arsene Wenger insisted he was not embarrassed by his team's display: "We did absolutely everything for 120 minutes and you have to give credit to Bradford. You feel embarrassed when you don't give everything. I think they [the Arsenal players] will be more disappointed and frustrated. I don't think it's a lack of quality. We will get over this - it is part of our job - and focus on the next game."

  142. 1853: 

    Bradford, though, had different ideas. In what surely ranks as one of the lowest points of Arsene Wenger's time as Arsenal manager, the Gunners were beaten on penalties at Bradford last Tuesday. They had trailed until the 88th minute, with perhaps the most damning indictment of their performance being that this was no fluke result. Bradford matched the Premier League side and were worthy winners.

  143. 1849: 

    Back when Arsenal last played at the Madejski Stadium, in a Capital One Cup tie on 30 October, Arsene Wenger must have left the stadium an extremely satisfied man. After all, his team had been 4-0 down against Reading, but recovered to win a thrilling match 7-5 after extra-time. And the Gunners, thanks to a show of character, determination and no little skill, were still in the competition and in with a chance of winning a trophy. Things were looking up. And with lowly Bradford awaiting in the quarter-final and the two Manchester clubs already eliminated, glory seemed within touching distance.

  144. 1845: 

    "To the 4,500 people up there at Bradford who didn't see us qualify, I would like to say we are really sorry."

Share this story

Related to this story

Listen to audio Live Manchester United v Chelsea

Premier League, Mon 26 Aug, 20:00 BST, BBC Radio 5 live

Videprinter Live

All the goals and incidents as they happen from all the matches across the divisions.

Premier League results

17 Dec 2012 23:59 UK

Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 17 Dec 2012 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man Utd 17 19 42
2 Man City 17 18 36
3 Chelsea 16 11 29
4 Tottenham 17 5 29
5 Arsenal 17 13 27
6 Everton 17 7 27
7 West Brom 17 3 27
8 Norwich 17 -6 25
9 Stoke 17 2 24
10 Swansea 17 4 23
11 West Ham 17 1 23
12 Liverpool 17 0 22
13 Fulham 17 -1 20
14 Aston Villa 17 -9 18
15 Newcastle 17 -7 17
16 Sunderland 17 -6 16
17 Southampton 16 -10 15
18 Wigan 17 -14 15
19 QPR 17 -15 10
20 Reading 17 -15 9