Reading surged into an early 4-0 lead via goals from Jason Roberts, Laurent Koscielny (own goal), Mikele Leigertwood and Noel Hunt but a glimmer of hope appeared before half time when Andrei Arshavin’s scything pass was collected by Theo Walcott who made light work of beating Adam Federici.
Arsenal embarked on the comeback when substitute Olivier Giroud reduced the deficit to two with a delightful header from Arshavin’s corner before Koscielny made amends for his earlier indiscretion by nodding home a Walcott centre. With the game seemingly over Walcott bundled the ball over the line to ensure the game would go to extra-time. Then it was time for Maraoune Chamakh to arrive. His neat one-two with Arshavin ended up with him rasping the ball through the legs of Kaspars Gorkks and beyond Adam Federici to make the score 5-4.
However the game was not over as Reading striker Pavel Pogrebnyak nodded home a close range header to level again at five apiece. Not to be outdone his former Zenit team-mate Arshavin sizzled down the left-hand side and saw his eventual shot cleared off the line into the path of Walcott who hammered home his hat-trick.
Chamakh added gloss to the evening with a delightful lob over the oncoming Federici after Chris Gunter had misjudged Walcott’s long clearance.
Final score Reading five Arsenal seven.
Andrei Arshavin has attributed the win to an unusual twelfth man…God. The game certainly did have some divine characteristics. Speaking to Arsenal.com the Russian, who played a part in four of the seven goals said:
‘’I did not think about when we had to equalise, I just felt that if we had the chance and God will help us, we will make a draw!"
There was also an amusing moment when French players Francis Coquelin and Olivier Giroud felt they had won the game on away goals or silver goal or whatever crazy continental rule they felt obliged to and celebrated by throwing their shirts into the stand. When they realised the game was not yet over they had to sheepishly ask if they could have their attire back which just added to the madness of the affair in Berkshire.
Famous Arsenal fan Piers Morgan was left red-faced after he called for the head of Arsene Wenger on Twitter at 4-0 to Reading. As many fans gave up hope and left the stadium early the Brit abroad who currently hosts a chat show in America made the ill-advised Tweet as Arsenal fans started chanting ‘we want our Arsenal back’ at the Mad Stad. Another example of being careful what you ‘Tweet’ for.
Emmanuel Frimpong looks set to leave The Emirates on loan in order to step up his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury. He previously enjoyed a spell at the Molineux before his ailment last season and now wants to complete a similar deal in search of regular first team football.
Finally Jack Wilshere believes he needs to start chipping in with more goals. The England international has recently returned from a lengthy injury lay-off and is determined to add finding the back of the net more to his already impressive set of attributes.
What do you make of everything going on at Arsenal FC on Halloween 2012?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald