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Reading 5 Arsenal 7 – match report as Theo Walcott scores hat-trick in incredible comeback

Reading 5 Arsenal 7: Madejski mayhem with tennis score as Gunners fight back from FOUR goals down with Walcott hat-trick

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UPDATED:

07:36 GMT, 31 October 2012

Amazing. Incredible. Breathtaking.

After another weekend of controversy, football was finally the winner at the Madejski.

Reading manager Brian McDermott might not see it that way after watching his side squander a four-goal lead. But even he will find it hard to deny his side were part of something very special.

Main man: Arsenal's Theo Walcott celebrates as he helps his side to a stunning victory

Main man: Arsenal's Theo Walcott celebrates as he helps his side to a stunning victory

Match facts

Reading: Federici, Gunter, Gorkss, Morrison, Shorey, Tabb, McCleary (McAnuff 73), Leigertwood, Robson-Kanu,
Roberts (Church 90),Hunt (Pogrebnyak 73).

Subs Not Used: Stuart Taylor, Pearce, Le Fondre, Harte.

Booked: Leigertwood, Morrison.

Goals: Roberts 12, Koscielny 18 og, Leigertwood 20, Hunt 37, Pogrebnyak 116.

Arsenal: Martinez, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Djourou, Miquel (Meade 105), Arshavin, Frimpong (Giroud 62), Coquelin,
Walcott, Chamakh, Gnabry (Eisfeld 62).

Subs Not Used: Shea, Squillaci, Bellerin, Yennaris.

Booked: Miquel, Chamakh, Giroud, Koscielny, Martinez, Eisfeld.

Goals: Walcott 45, 90, 103, Giroud 64, Koscielny 89, Chamakh 103, 120.

Att: 23,980

Ref: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

Click for the latest League Cup results and stats

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed
the Capital One Cup was rock-bottom of his priorities list at last
week’s fiery AGM. It certainly looked that way when his side went 4-0
down after 37 minutes.

But the Gunners somehow conjured a miracle — hauling themselves back into the game, forcing extra time with two goals in the last minutes of regulation and then claiming an unbelievable win.

Theo Walcott, who scored three of Arsenal’s magnificent seven, told Sky Sports 2: ‘It was an unbelievable game. I’m absolutely knackered now. Seven goals away from home — it was great going forward. Maybe defensively it wasn’t great at times, but we’re in the draw and that’s what matters.’

Wenger described the results as a ‘miracle’ and added: ‘Reading were playing very well and at a higher pace than us and we conceded goal after goal. The turning point came when Theo scored our first goal just before half-time to make it 4-1.’

McDermott admitted he was stunned by the result. He said: ‘That was extraordinary. We have to pick ourselves up and move on. It is embarrassing but we have to take it on the chin and just move on.’

A night of heart-stopping action started in the 12th minute when the Royals were rewarded for their enterprising start as Jason Roberts slid home Hal Robson-Kanu’s low cross.

Off and running: Jason Roberts fires home to put Reading in front against Arsenal

Off and running: Jason Roberts fires home to put Reading in front against Arsenal

Six minutes later they doubled their lead. Right-back Chris Gunter came flying down the flank before arrowing a low cross in the box that Laurent Koscielny made a mockery of clearing as the ball squirmed between goalkeeper Damien Martinez and his near post.

McDermott and the home supporters were in dreamland. So, goodness knows what must have been going through their minds in the 20th minute when midfielder Mikele Leigertwood picked up the ball 20 yards from goal before unleashing a powerful drive that Martinez could only parry into his own net.

Dejected: Laurent Koscielny scores an own goal to gift Reading a second

Dejected: Laurent Koscielny scores an own goal to gift Reading a second

Bullet: Mikele Leigertwood fires home to extend Reading's advantage further

Bullet: Mikele Leigertwood fires home to extend Reading's advantage further

It didn’t seem possible, but Arsenal’s night got even worse in the 37th minute when Noel Hunt climbed highest in the box to nod past the stunned Martinez after Garath McCleary’s excellent cross.

That was the cue for dozens of Arsenal supporters to head for the exits. And who could blame them as they launched into cries of: ‘We want our Arsenal back.’ But how wrong they were to leave as the Gunners staged a scintillating comeback.

The early departures must have been kicking themselves as they listened to the game on the way home. First, Theo Walcott cooly finished past Adam Federici after Andrey Arshavin’s through ball on the stroke of half-time.

Heads you win: Noel Hunt finds the back of the net to add Reading's fourth

Heads you win: Noel Hunt finds the back of the net to add Reading's fourth

Back in the game: Theo Walcott scored a fine goal just before half time for Arsenal

Back in the game: Theo Walcott scored a fine goal just before half time for Arsenal

It was not enough to appease Gunners fans who booed their side off at half-time, but when substitute Olivier Giroud headed in Walcott’s corner in the 65th minute, a sense of impossible hope took over.

Arsenal threw everything at their hosts and with a minute of normal time they cut the deficit to single goal as Koscielny nodded home another Walcott corner.

Fourth official Michael Oliver signalled four minutes of stoppage time and Reading looked home and dry with the ball deep inside the Arsenal half with seconds left to play. But with the final kick of normal time, Walcott somehow squeezed a shot past Federici to score what at half-time had seemed an impossible equaliser.

Nodding off: Olivier Giroud grabbed a second goal fro Arsenal as the comeback continued

Nodding off: Olivier Giroud grabbed a second goal fro Arsenal as the comeback continued

Making amends: Koscielny scores at the right end to reduce Arsenal's arrears even further

Making amends: Koscielny scores at the right end to reduce Arsenal's arrears even further

Level pegging: Walcott fires the ball home to complete a stunning comeback

Level pegging: Walcott fires the ball home to complete a stunning comeback

The Gunners were euphoric, so much so that Giroud and Francis Coquelin threw their shirts into the away supporters thinking they had won. But their delirium could easily have been short lived as substitute Jobi McAnuff drove into the Gunners box two minutes into extra time before unleashing a powerful drive that Martinez did well to parry.

Marouane Chamakh put Arsenal ahead for the first time in the 103rd minute with a low drive from the edge of the box that flew past Federici.

And another: Marouane Chamakh makes it five for Arsenal as the Gunners scrape through

And another: Marouane Chamakh makes it five for Arsenal as the Gunners scrape through

Level again: Pavel Pogrebnyak equalised for Reading in extra time

Level again: Pavel Pogrebnyak equalised for Reading in extra time

The Royals keeper made a brilliant stop to deny Walcott in the first minute of the final period of extra time. And the Australian’s save looked vital when Reading substitute Pavel Pogrebnyak nodded home to make it 5-5 in the 116th minute.

But you just knew that was not the end, and right on cue, in the dying seconds of extra time, Walcott completed his hat-trick, thumping home from close range after Arshavin’s shot was saved.

Reading pressed for an equaliser and Wenger berated Martinez for hoofing the ball downfield when he could have ticked off a few seconds. But when Arsenal regained possession, Chamakh lobbed Federici for the seventh. Miracle accomplished.

Six of the best: Walcott completes his hat-trick (above) before Chamakh makes it seventh heaven (below)

Six of the best: Walcott completes his hat-trick (above) before Chamakh makes it seventh heaven (below)

Marouane Chamakh scores the seventh goal

Reading 5 Arsenal 7: match report

Reading 5 Arsenal 7: Hat-trick hero Walcott leads stunning Gunners comeback

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UPDATED:

23:10 GMT, 30 October 2012

Theo Walcott scored a hat-trick as Arsenal completed a dramatic extra-time victory over Reading after coming from four goals behind.

Marouane Chamakh scored twice and Walcott completed his treble to give Arsene Wenger’s side the most unlikely of victories. Trailing by four goals after 37 minutes Arsenal fought back, Walcott levelled the game with the last kick of normal time.

Chamakh put Arsenal in front for the first time only for Pavel Pogrebnyak to level matters again. The game appeared to be heading for a penalty shootout but Walcott and Chamakh scored to break Reading hearts.

Main man: Arsenal's Theo Walcott celebrates as he helps his side to a stunning victory

Main man: Arsenal's Theo Walcott celebrates as he helps his side to a stunning victory

Match facts

Reading: Federici, Gunter, Gorkss, Morrison, Shorey, Tabb, McCleary (McAnuff 73), Leigertwood, Robson-Kanu,
Roberts (Church 90),Hunt (Pogrebnyak 73).

Subs Not Used: Stuart Taylor, Pearce, Le Fondre, Harte.

Booked: Leigertwood, Morrison.

Goals: Roberts 12, Koscielny 18 og, Leigertwood 20, Hunt 37, Pogrebnyak 116.

Arsenal: Martinez, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Djourou, Miquel (Meade 105), Arshavin, Frimpong (Giroud 62), Coquelin,
Walcott, Chamakh, Gnabry (Eisfeld 62).

Subs Not Used: Shea, Squillaci, Bellerin, Yennaris.

Booked: Miquel, Chamakh, Giroud, Koscielny, Martinez, Eisfeld.

Goals: Walcott 45, 90, 103, Giroud 64, Koscielny 89, Chamakh 103, 120.

Att: 23,980

Ref: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

Click for the latest League Cup results and stats

They may have progressed but Arsenal’s first-half performance was shambolic as Reading stormed into a four-goal lead.

Wenger made 11 changes from the side that started in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers. Theo Walcott was given a chance to show why he is worth the 100,000-per-week new contract he so desperately craves, while Serge Gnabry was hoping to show why Wenger is tipping him to become Arsenal’s next bright young thing.

Reading boss Brian McDermott was not as carefree with his changes, making six from the side that started in the dramatic draw against Fulham at the weekend.

And the home side nearly made the perfect start in the third minute when Sean Morrison rattled Damien Martinez’s crossbar with a header from Nicky Shorey’s floated corner.

Walcott thought he had a clear run at goal two minutes later after Andrey Arshavin located him with an inch-perfect lofted pass — but Reading skipper Kaspars Gorkss made a timely challenge with the England forward primed to pull the trigger.

Martinez showed why he has already been called up into the Argentina national squad at the tender age of 20 with a smart stop to deny Jay Tabb who had wriggled his way into the box.

Off and running: Jason Roberts fires home to put Reading in front against Arsenal

Off and running: Jason Roberts fires home to put Reading in front against Arsenal

But Reading were awarded for their enterprising start in the 12th minute when Jason Roberts, who easily evaded the attentions of Ignasi Miquel, slid home Hal Robson-Kanu’s low cross to give the Premier League new-boys a deserved lead.

And Reading’s night got even better just six minutes later as they doubled their lead to stun a shell-shocked Arsenal side.

Right back Chris Gunter came flying down the flank before firing a low cross into the Arsenal box that Laurent Koscielny failed to clear, instead slicing the ball into his own goal to double the home side’s lead.

McDermott and the home supporters were in dreamland.

Dejected: Laurent Koscielny scores an own goal to gift Reading a second

Dejected: Laurent Koscielny scores an own goal to gift Reading a second

Bullet: Mikele Leigertwood fires home to extend Reading's advantage further

Bullet: Mikele Leigertwood fires home to extend Reading's advantage further

So, God knows what must have been going through their mind when Reading took an incredible three goal advantage in the 20th minute.

As Arsenal’s backline struggled to clear after yet another Reading attack, midfielder Mikele Leigertwood picked up the ball 20 yards from goal before unleashing a powerful drive that somehow Martinez only parried into his own net.

And Arsenal’s embarrassing opening half got worse in the 37th minute, this time Noel Hunt climbing highest in the box to nod past the stunned Martinez after Garath McCleary’s excellent cross.

That was the cue for dozens of Arsenal supporters to leave the Madejski Stadium.

Heads you win: Noel Hunt finds the back of the net to add Reading's fourth

Heads you win: Noel Hunt finds the back of the net to add Reading's fourth

Back in the game: Theo Walcott scored a fine goal just before half time for Arsenal

Back in the game: Theo Walcott scored a fine goal just before half time for Arsenal

They had obviously seen enough. And who could blame them as they launched into cries of ‘We want our Arsenal back.’ There was a riposte, finally, from Wenger’s men as Walcott cooly finished past Adam Federici after Arshavin’s through ball on the stroke of half-time to cut the deficit.

If there was a half-time rocket from Wenger then it did not show as the home side came out with all guns blazing.

The impressive Robson-Kanu forced Martinez into a good save low down to his right with a close range header before Miquel nearly put though his own net after another dangerous Shorey corner.

Nodding off: Olivier Giroud grabbed a second goal fro Arsenal as the comeback continued

Nodding off: Olivier Giroud grabbed a second goal fro Arsenal as the comeback continued

Making amends: Koscielny scores at the right end to reduce Arsenal's arrears even further

Making amends: Koscielny scores at the right end to reduce Arsenal's arrears even further

Level pegging: Walcott fires the ball home to complete a stunning comeback

Level pegging: Walcott fires the ball home to complete a stunning comeback

Leigertwood then went desperately close to notching his second of the night with a vicious drive from 15 yards after Roberts’ cut back that flew narrowly over Martinez’s bar.

Walcott saw his attempts to cut Reading’s lead further thwarted by Federici 10 minutes into the second half as his low effort, after a trademark pacy run, was well saved.

Marouane Chamakh was then yellow carded for running 20 yards to remonstrate with a linesman after seeing his half-hearted attempts to win a penalty turned down.

And another: Marouane Chamakh makes it five for Arsenal as the Gunners scrape through

And another: Marouane Chamakh makes it five for Arsenal as the Gunners scrape through

Level again: Pavel Pogrebnyak equalised for Reading in extra time

Level again: Pavel Pogrebnyak equalised for Reading in extra time

Wenger threw on summer signing Olivier Giroud in the 62nd minute in an effort to somehow inspire his men. And the substitution paid off instantly as the France striker nodded home Walcott’s corner in the 65th minute to give Arsenal hope.

The visitors then took control of the game but couldn’t force a third goal until the 89th minute when Koscielny scored at the right end. Reading looked to have held on but in the fifth minute of added time Arsenal pumped a hopeful long ball into the box.

Giroud nodded on and Walcott reacted first, making some space and poking a shot towards goal which just crossed the line to force extra-time.

Seventh heaven: Arsenal celebrate after Chamakh scored their final goal at Reading

Seventh heaven: Arsenal celebrate after Chamakh scored their final goal at Reading

Arsene Wenger urges Olivier Giroud to start scoring in Premier League

Now start scoring in the League! Wenger urges Giroud to build on Coventry strike

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UPDATED:

08:01 GMT, 27 September 2012

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admitted striker Olivier Giroud had a weight lifted from his shoulders when he scored his first goal for the club against Coventry on Wednesday night.

The summer signing from Montpellier had yet to find the back of the net for the Gunners but opened the scoring in a comfortable 6-1 Capital One Cup success.

Giroud later saw a penalty saved but Wenger believes the France international can now build upon his first goal when he next lines up for Arsenal.

French fancy: Giroud scored his first goal for Arsenal in Wednesday's Cup tie

French fancy: Giroud scored his first goal for Arsenal in Wednesday's Cup tie

French fancy: Giroud scored his first goal for Arsenal in Wednesday's Cup tie

He said: 'It was in everyone's mind that the sooner he gets it the better, it was certainly more in his mind even more than in our minds. That is positive of course.

'It was a good finish, he is a good finisher Olivier, but at the moment I believe he is looking for confidence and that goal will help him. I expect him to take that into the Premier League.'

Second-half goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Andrey Arshavin, Ignasi Miquel and a brace from Theo Walcott meant Arsenal progressed in style to a fourth-round meeting with Reading.

Wenger was pleased with Arshavin's contribution on what was his first start of the season and believes he now knows where best to play the Russian.

On target: Arshavin scored in the rout over Coventry at the Emirates

On target: Arshavin scored in the rout over Coventry at the Emirates

'His best position looks to be behind the striker now,' he said. 'That is where his vision and the creative side of his game can be very efficient, when he has to work on the flank it is sometimes working against him because he has to work too hard up and down. When he is central he is also an influence on the game.'

Wenger praised the spirited fight of Coventry and felt his players' superior fitness proved to be telling as the game wore on.

He said: 'You have to respect Coventry because they gave a lot and never gave up and did fight for every ball from the first to the last minute, when they got tired it became easy for us.

'It was a classical tie where you needed to be serious and we were serious.'

Coventry manager Mark Robins, taking charge of only his second match since being appointed at the Ricoh Arena, was pleased to see his side play some decent football in the first half.

'We've got to make sure we are doing the right things stage by stage and that was that was the first stage,' he said.

'It is a tough, tough game to play in when you're lacking in confidence and lacking in belief. They showed tonight they can pass it and keep passing it even when they are under pressure.'

Nico Yennaris: Former Arsenal mascot in line to make debut for Gunners

From mascot to Arsenal's starting XI: Yennaris proves football dreams can come true

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UPDATED:

16:07 GMT, 25 September 2012

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Nico Yennaris' development shows sometimes 'dreams do come true' as the former Gunners mascot prepares to line up against Coventry in the Capital One Cup.

The 19-year-old midfielder will be part of a mixed Arsenal squad for the visit of the npower League One side.

The Sky Blues have fallen on hard times in recent seasons, but were established members of the top flight when Leytonstone-born Yennaris was a proud mascot aged seven for a game at Highbury in September 2000.

Young Gunner: Yennaris was the Arsenal mascot back in 2000

Young Gunner: Yennaris was the Arsenal mascot back in 2000

The youngster, whose father is a Greek Cypriot and mother Chinese, came through the Arsenal Academy and signed professional terms in July 2010, making his senior debut in the League Cup against Bolton last October before spending a brief loan spell with Notts County.

Wenger has been impressed with the midfielder's progress, with Yennaris having also made a substitute appearance in the Barclays Premier League against Manchester United in January.

'He has a good chance to be on the pitch on Wednesday night, so that is a fantastic story,' Wenger said on Arsenal Player.

'Dreams do come true sometimes when you really want it and have been lucky as well.

'First of all you must really want it and Nico is one of these guys who has that.

'He is ready to give himself a chance with full commitment. Nico is a fantastic player, but also has an excellent attitude – his is a good example to follow for all of the fans who will turn up on Wednesday night.'

As well as giving youngsters like Hector Bellerin, Kris Olsson, Serge Gnabry, Craig Eastmond and Ignasi Miquel the chance of some first-team action, Wenger will also give some of his fringe players the opportunity to impress.

Biding his time: Yennaris is the latest to come through the Arsenal ranks

Biding his time: Yennaris is the latest to come through the Arsenal ranks

Biding his time: Yennaris is the latest to come through the Arsenal ranks

Such is the current depth of Wenger's squad, which has made an unbeaten start to the new season following Sunday's 1-1 draw at Manchester City, Andrey Arshavin and Theo Walcott have struggled to make an impact, but should start.

Brazil international Andre Santos and Swiss defender Johan Djourou are also expected to come into the side.

French striker Olivier Giroud has yet to find the net since his summer move from Montpellier, so will have a great opportunity to break that duck.

Meanwhile, combative midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong may be in contention for the squad after recovering fitness from a serious knee injury.

Paid his dues: Yennaris will be hoping to kick rather than inflate the footballs on Wednesday night

Paid his dues: Yennaris will be hoping to kick rather than inflate the footballs on Wednesday night