It was a scoreline which resembled a tennis match. 7-5. That just doesn't happen in football. Does it?
Here are five conclusions from last night's epic encounter.
1) This Arsenal have the mental strength which previous sides did not
Would Arsenal have achieved this comeback last season? We aren't so sure. The season before? Certainly not. It may have been a defensive shocker for the Gunners, but they dug deep and from somewhere, found it within themselves to win despite finding themselves 4-0 down after 39 minutes. This Arsenal squad have a real togetherness, and the players are all fighting for the same cause. The camaraderie within the squad is plain to see, as Theo Walcott and Carl Jenkinson showed in their post-match interview. It has to bode well for the season ahead, and nights like this will boost the unity within the club.
2) The manner of defeat could be catastrophic for Reading's season
For Reading, make no bones about it, this was a disaster. For any side to go 4-0 up and then fail to win is embarrassing, but for Reading it could have even deeper effects. They are still to win a Premier League match this season, and confidence will have been low as a result ahead of this game. Beating one of the 'top sides' - even if under strength, would have done wonders for their confidence, especially if they had maintained the manner of their first half performance. Instead they wilted and collapsed, and Brian McDermott will have a tough job picking his players up. It could be a watershed moment, and their season kicks on from here, but it is more likely this defeat only serves to highlight their poor form, and could further damage their confidence for the upcoming games ahead.
3) Theo Walcott may have a future up front after all
Theo Walcott said he wants to play up front for Arsenal; well the way he took Arsenal's first goal was reminiscent of Thierry Henry in his pomp. His pace and calmness under pressure showed all the attributes of a top striker, and Arsene Wenger will no doubt have taken note. Whether the side's fourth on the night goes down as his or Jenkinson's ultimately does not matter, but Walcott's poise, the way he scored from inside the six yard box under immense pressure was like the 'fox in the box' Arsenal have long craved. Obviously he has far more in his locker than that, but to be able to finish in such situations bodes well for his ambitions of playing up front.
4) Comeback was just what Arsenal needed ahead of trip to Old Trafford
At 4-0 down and shipping goals like a Sunday league side, Arsenal fans will have had horror flashbacks to their 8-2 capitulation at Old Trafford last season. Had it stayed 4-0, the weekend's visit to Manchester would have been the last thing they needed. Instead, the 7-5 win was the perfect tonic. Firstly nobody believes the Gunners will concede eight again on Saturday, and their clinical attacking last night will give them the confidence they need that they can go toe to toe with United. After two successive defeats, and a shaky 1-0 win over QPR, Arsenal needed something big, to give them the belief they can go to Old Trafford and cause an upset. After this miraculous game, the players will believe they can suddenly achieve anything.
5) Marouane Chamakh is not completely done yet
Ahead of last night, if Marouane Chamakh had never pulled on an Arsenal shirt again, it would have been too soon. And don't get us wrong, for the first 40 minutes of the game he was abominable as his reputation. After that, he sprung into life, helping Walcott on the way to netting before half time, and it was in extra time that he really came into his own. He hit an improbable goal to send supporters wild at 5-4, and when he chipped Adam Federici from 25 yards out in the final minute to make it 7-5, watching viewers really felt they were in the twilight zone. The Moroccan showed he might just be of use to Arsenal yet, even if it is just between now and January. He won't have done his chances of a move any harm, and wherever he is playing come the New Year, this game has certainly reignited his career somewhat.
What are your views on the above?
image: © ronmacphotos