Both Reading and Arsenal have a point to prove after their midweek defeats and that could mean we see lots of goals at the Madejski on Monday night says Lee Dixon...
Reading v Arsenal
Monday 20:00, live on Sky Sports 1
How these teams must wish this match was the opening game of the weekend, rather than the last. Tuesday night brought misery for both as Arsenal suffered the indignity of exiting the Capital One Cup at League Two's Bradford, while Reading were soundly beaten in a Premier League fixture at Sunderland.
Both clubs will be desperate to get back on the pitch and exorcise those matches from the system.
It's impossible to talk about this fixture without going back to that crazy night in late October when Arsenal came back from 4-0 down to send their League Cup clash into extra time, a game which the Gunners won by an incredible 7-5 scoreline.
That was one of the strangest matches of the season, phenomenal for so many reasons, and featuring what was quite simply some of the worst defending I have ever seen!
Though we surely can't match the drama of that game at the Madejski, something tells me we are going to be entertained on Monday night.
With just one victory in their last 15 in the Premier League, Reading are really struggling this season. Poor in attack and poor at the back - 14 goals conceded at home and 17 on the road - it's becoming increasingly hard to hold out much hope for Brian McDermott's team.
Of course, Monday's opponents will not arrive in a super positive frame of mind either. Tuesday night's result at Valley Parade really is an unprecedented low point in the Arsene Wenger era. In the past Arsene has fielded young sides in the league cup but there were plenty of first-team regulars on the pitch against Bradford and the team arrived in Yorkshire on the back of a solid enough win over West Brom.
Put simply, Arsenal must get back to some sort of consistency, putting a string of wins together. They are fancied to do that at Reading, with the Betfair market making them 1.715/7 to pick up all three points. I'm relatively confident that my old side can do that but I don't find the match odds price particularly tempting.
I am tempted to back goals and lots of them, however. We know Reading concede - in recent weeks Sunderland, Manchester United and Wigan have all put three goals past them. Though Arsenal haven't been too prolific, I fancy them to react to Tuesday night's debacle with a big show.
I don't see clean sheets for either side so will be backing both over 3.5 and over 4.5 goals in case it goes really crazy.
The Betfair Trader's View: Alan Thompson
Reading are struggling to contain sides at home and have conceded more goals per game than anyone in the Premier League. They have conceded 14 goals in their first seven home games meaning they are conceding an average of two goals per game.
Arsenal are back upto seventh in the table after their home win against WBA at the weekend and they will be looking to improve on that position with their remaining 2012 fixtures which are away against Wigan and Southampton and home to West Ham and Newcastle.
Both these sides looked very unconvincing again midweek when Arsenal were embarrassed by Bradford and Reading weren’t much better on the end of a 3-0 away defeat at Sunderland. Reading and Arsenal have met 10 times in total (league and cup) and Arsenal have won every time, I expect that trend to continue this week.
I can't really hold out much hope for Reading here and think Arsenal will continue their fine head-to-head record. I will open my trades by backing Arsenal 2-0, 2-1 and 3-0 and look to trade In-Play.
The Tactical View: Michael Cox
Reading win a decent number of corners in home matches – but rather than bet on Corners Match Bet or Corners Odds, I’m more interested in what Reading actually do with their corners.
Nicky Shorey is something of a liability at left-back, but he delivers some excellent balls from set-pieces, and he’ll cause Arsenal problems – Arsene Wenger’s side haven’t defended these situations well in 2012/13.
The key man to watch out for is Sean Morrison, the target for almost all of Shorey’s deliveries. He’s been struggling with an ankle injury over the last week, but should be fit to start – I’ll back him to open the scoring at around 40.0.