Gunners take on Royals in FA Cup semi-final at Wembley
Gunners take on Royals in FA Cup semi-final at Wembley

Arsenal take on Reading today in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, kick-off 5.20pm.

The match is being is being shown live on BBC1.

The Gunners will be looking to reach a second successive final, as they bid to retain the trophy they won by beating Hull City 3-2 after extra time last May.

Reading will be playing in only the second FA Cup semi-final in their history.

Their only appearance in 1927 saw them lose to the eventual winners Cardiff City.

This will be Arsenal’s 28th semi-final appearance (W18 L9) which is a record for an English club.

Arsenal and Reading have played each other 12 times in all competitions and the Gunners have won them all.

The fixture has a history for producing goals. The last three games have seen 24 goals scored; including the famous 5-7 League Cup tie. With Gunners coming from four goals down to win the tie in extra-time.

Key Players

Hal Robson-Kanu has scored in three of his last four FA Cup appearances for Reading, plus he also netted in his last appearance against Arsenal (30 March 2013 in the Premier League).

Olivier Giroud has scored seven and assisted four goals in his 12 FA Cup appearances for Arsenal and netted in two of his last three appearances against the Royals.

Team news

Reading 

Pavel Pogrebnyak will be available after overcoming a calf complaint, which meant he missed Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to Bournemouth in the Championship.

Jem Karacan will captain the side should he start a third straight game after long-term injury.

Nathan Ake and Kwesi Appiah, on loan from Chelsea and Crystal Palace respectively, are cup-tied for the semi-final, but fellow loanees Nathaniel Chalobah and Jamie Mackie are available.

Provisional squad: Federici, Andersen, Gunter, Kelly, Obita, Cooper, Ferdinand, Pearce, Knight, Hector, Chalobah, Karacan, Williams, Norwood, Robson-Kanu, Akpan, McCleary, Pogrebnyak, Stacey, Yakubu, Blackman, Mackie, Cox.

Arsenal

Jack Wilshere could return to the Gunners squad following his ankle injury problems.

Wojciech Szczesny will start in-goal, while the likes of England duo Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck are also pressing for a start.

Mathieu Debuchy may also be included in the squad again, having been out since January after needing shoulder surgery. However, captain Mikel Arteta (ankle) and midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin) are still not match fit.

Provisional Squad: Szczesny, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Bellerin, Coquelin, Wilshere, Ramsey, Sanchez, Walcott, Welbeck, Ospina, Monreal, Koscielny, Cazorla, Ozil, Giroud, Rosicky, Chambers, Flamini, Debuchy.

Key facts – supplied by Opta

Reading have only ever made the FA Cup semi final once before, in 1927 when they lost to eventual winners Cardiff City.

Arsenal have participated in a joint-high 18 and won a joint-high 11 FA Cup finals each. This will be their 28th semi-final appearance (W18 L9) which is a record for an English club.

Olivier Giroud has scored seven and assisted four goals in his 12 FA Cup appearances and netted in two of his last three appearances against the Royals.

Arsenal and Reading have played each other 12 times in all competitions and the Gunners have won them all.

The last cup tie between Reading and Arsenal saw the Royals race into a four goal lead, only to be pegged back and eventually lose 5-7 in extra time.

The last three games between Reading and Arsenal have seen 24 goals scored.

Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla have both scored four goals in their last two appearances against Reading.

The last time Arsenal lost an FA Cup semi-final to a team from outside the top flight was in 1973 against Sunderland.

Hal Robson-Kanu has scored in three of his last four FA Cup appearances, plus he also netted in his last appearance against Arsenal (30 March 2013 in the Premier League).

Reading have had opponents sent off against them in three of their four FA Cup ties (five games total) this season.

Arsenal’s last defeat in the FA Cup came against a lower division team (Blackburn Feb 2013) and the only team to avoid defeat in normal play since was also from the Championship (Wigan in 2014 semi final).

Only George Ramsay (6 with Aston Villa) has won the FA Cup as a manager more times than Arsene Wenger.

Each of the last three times Arsenal have faced second tier opposition in the semi-final they’ve gone on to win the trophy (1998, 2003 and 2014).

Arsene Wenger’s side have lost just one of their last 38 FA Cup games against a lower league side (W29 D8 L1), including the replayed game against Sheffield United in 1999.

Prediction

Arsenal struggled to overcome Wigan at this stage last season. Requiring penalty kicks to progress to the final. Steve Clarke is an astute manager, who will have a game plan to make it similarly difficult for the Gunners today. Arsenal though should have too much quality going forward for the Royals. So predicting a 3-1 win for the Gunners.