The Bradford FA Cup fairytale may have come to an end, but for Reading, a club that have perhaps gone under the radar in the competition this season the dream goes on.
Goals from Hal Robson-Kanu, a deflected Gareth McCleary effort and a nice finish from Jamie Mackie sealed the deal in a match they dominated to book the Royals a first semi-final spot in 88 years.
Lying in wait for them at Wembley is the in-form beast that is Arsenal.
Only Monaco and north London rivals Tottenham have escaped their encounters with Arsene Wenger’s men without losing in their last 14 matches, but their good form could leave the Frenchman with a dilemma in mid-April.
Surprise many and come back from a two-goal deficit against the Principality club in tonight’s Champions League encounter and the Emirates outfit will be left with an FA cup semi sandwiched between a European last-eight tie and a mouth-watering clash with Chelsea.
Wenger may have stated that his side are not yet in the title race, but string a few more wins together and the pressure will be on Chelsea.
So with a first Premier League title in 11 years potentially in the balance for the Gunners in the capital, where will Wenger’s priorities lie?
For Reading, it’s simple.
Little or no consistency in the Championship has left the Berkshire club with little to play for in the league this season, so the focus really will be on England’s oldest cup competition.
That was somewhat demonstrated when Steve Clarke made 11 changes for their tie at Watford last weekend, perhaps inevitably suffering a 4-1 loss.
At 16/1 to lift the trophy, Ladbrokes may see this as being as far as the R’s go, but they’ve certainly given the Gunners a real game when they have met recently.
A staggering 24 goals have been scored in the last 300 minutes of football between the sides, the Premier League team’s 7-5 victory after extra time in the League Cup two seasons back particularly sticking in the mind.
They may never have beaten Arsenal in 12 head-to-heads, but with Wigan taking the Gunners to extra-time in the semi-finals last year, there is hope for the second-tier outfit.
One thing’s for sure, they should be backing their English counterparts for success in Europe this evening.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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