Wednesday 31 October 2012
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said his side went from "disaster to pride" as they beat Reading 7-5 in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night.
The Gunners were 4-0 down after 37 minutes but staged a memorable comeback with the help of Theo Walcott's hat-trick to book their place in the last eight for the 10th season in succession.
"We went from disaster to, I must say at least at some stage, pride – because we at least came back in the second half with a decent performance," said Wenger.
"We had just hope, but it didn't look like we would go through. At least in the second half, we got our disastrous first half out of the system.
"I was very proud of the way we responded in the second half"
"Then, once it was 4-4, it looked like we would be the winner of the game. Reading had given a lot, and [were] mentally, of course, down, and in extra time the maximum they could have got was a penalty shoot-out.
"We looked quite comfortable in the second half. They [Reading] had a fantastic first half. I know what it is to be pulled back when you're 4-0 up. It happened to me as well. They should take credit from that performance and not be too disappointed."
Reading, third from bottom in the Barclays Premier League, belied their position in the table by notching four goals in the opening 37 minutes thanks to Jason Roberts, Mikele Leigertwood, Noel Hunt and a Laurent Koscielny own goal.
Theo Walcott gave the Gunners hope just before the break and substitute Olivier Giroud made it 4-2 on 64 minutes with a header from a corner.
Koscielny made up for his own goal with another headed goal in the 89th minute before Walcott scored his second deep into injury time to force extra time.
Arsenal thought their comeback was complete when Marouane Chamakh, making his first start since January, drilled the ball home 13 minutes into extra time but Pavel Pogrebnyak pulled Reading level with a header from close range.
Then, just as the teams were preparing for a penalty shoot-out, Andrey Arshavin's shot was cleared off the line and fell for Walcott, who gleefully scored his third goal of the night. Chamakh added Arsenal's seventh goal just before the final whistle.
"At 4-1 down I thought the comeback was possible because we were creating many chances in the second half," added Wenger. "At 4-0 up a team thinks it has won the game. At 4-1 up you still think you've won.
"I thought the team were brilliant to get the result and finish the game off"
"At 4-2 you suddenly realise it's not over and then the panic kicks in and that goes through the team.
"This competition was not one of our priorities but had we gone out in the way we could have, that would not have been one of my proudest moments. I was very proud of the way we responded in the second half."
Aston Villa needed a last-gasp goal by Christian Benteke to ease past Swindon Town 3-2 after having led 2-0 going into the last 12 minutes. The Belgium striker and Gabriel Agbonlahor had put Paul Lambert’s team in control before half-time at the County Ground but Swindon fought back only for Benteke to score the winner in the 90th minute.
"We were really comfortable and then all of a sudden we became complacent for some reason and that gives the crowd a lift," said Villa manager Paul Lambert. "But I thought the team were brilliant to get the result and finish the game off after Swindon gave it a go.
"It's never an easy place. I know that from experience - a smaller team taking on a big team. We had nothing to gain. I thought my team were excellent.
"I was very pleased with the goals too. I thought Gabby's goal was world-class and Christian's last one was fantastic. The first one was great too."
The other Barclays Premier League teams playing on Tuesday exited the competition at the hands of lower-league opposition.
Southampton went out away to Leeds United with a 3-0 defeat, Sunderland went down 1-0 to Middlesbrough at the Stadium of Light, while Wigan Athletic also lost at home, losing 4-2 on penalties to Bradford City after their match had finished goalless.
The stand-out tie of Wednesday's fixtures is an immediate reprise of the exciting meeting between Chelsea and Manchester United in the Barclays Premier League this weekend.
The two teams, who have won the competition eight times between them, are likely to make a number of changes to the sides who played a five-goal thriller at Stamford Bridge.
The other ties involving top-flight clubs pit Norwich City against Tottenham Hotspur, who have already been held to a 1-1 draw by Chris Hughton's side this season, and Liverpool against Swansea City, both taking place on Wednesday.
Leeds United 3-0 Southampton
Reading 5-7 Arsenal
Sunderland 0-1 Middlesbrough
Swindon 2-3 Aston Villa
Wigan Athletic 0-0 Bradford City (aet; Bradford win 4-2 on penalties)
Wednesday, 31 October
Chelsea v Manchester United
Norwich City v Tottenham Hotspur
Liverpool v Swansea City