1) Firstly thank you for taking the time to answer some questions on our semi final cup match. Are you excited about the trip to Wembley? I know I am.
@imnotasian1994 - Hard not to be excited!
@lexamufu - You're welcome! I am definitely excited about the trip to Wembley! Although we are clearly the underdogs going into this one, everyone knows what can happen in the FA Cup. Reading fans haven't had much to cheer about this season due to a poor run in the Championship, so getting this far in such a prolific competition has definitely raised spirits. Reading haven't been in a FA semi-final since 1927, and have never made it into the final of the competition, so we have to enjoy the experience while we can!
@TalkMurtyToMe - Of course! It's our first semi-final in 88 years and I couldn't be more excited. With our tag as the underdogs, we'll go there with no fear, and I think the fans will thrive of that. It's going to be a great atmosphere.
@TheTilehurstEnd - I wish I could say I was but I'm actually getting married! Needless to say the scheduling conflict was a bit gutting! However for a generation of Reading fans this is the first chance they've had to go to Wembley for a cup tie that didn't have promotion on the line and they're determined to enjoy it!
2) A quick glance at your form lately seems to show a bit of inconsistency, what do you put that down to?
@imnotasian1994 - We've had a managerial change, I think that's affected the chance of momentum. There's also new players coming in, some of whom have been a better fit than others!
@lexamufu - In the Championship recently I would probably say that we have actually been consistent, but consistently poor. Having such a quick turnover between league matches, playing Tuesday and Saturday, probably didn't help matters especially with FA Cup fixtures on top of that. Our squad isn't the largest, so players from our U21 squad have also been given the opportunity to play a part especially when senior members were out with injuries.
The main problem for Reading is the absence of a prolific striker, especially since Glenn Murray returned to Palace. Pavel Pogrebnyak and Jamie Mackie have been amongst the goals, but no one in the Reading squad has made it to double figures this season which is a worrying statistic. Reading have managed to score goals in the cup, however, so we will be hoping this trend continues against Arsenal.
@TalkMurtyToMe - If you're looking for one word to describe our season it's that one. What is it down to? I couldn't tell you, I don't think Steve Clarke could to be honest. It's such a weird one, and that's why our season has been such a frustrating one. On paper, the side often looks decent, but they're just not producing the results.
@TheTilehurstEnd - A squad that's just come to the end of its natural shelf life. The squad has only gotten weaker over the past few years down to financial troubles and the quality and consistency just hasn't been there from those that have remained.
3) Do you think league form will affect your players mindset or will cup football give your players a new sense of freedom to play?
@imnotasian1994 - They've come this far! I think knowing how close they are to the FA cup final will give them the extra push we need!
@lexamufu - Absolutely not. Reading are the underdogs and will therefore be able to play without pressure. No one expected us to get this far in the competition, so we have somewhat slipped under the radar. The players have the opportunity to make history by winning and getting through to the final and that is a great incentive to go out and show what they are capable of. Unlike in the Championship, the players have also been finding the net in the cup so will relish the opportunity playing on the big stage.
@TalkMurtyToMe - I don't think it will affect us in the slightest, make no mistake about that. Yes, it's been a disappointing league campaign, but we've played quite well in the cup. Listen, we know all about Arsenal, what challenges they'll bring and how they can hurt us if we don't defend well, so we'll be ready for them and try to prepare as best we can, regardless of what's happened in the past this season.
@TheTilehurstEnd - Not really! I think most of the squad realise this could be their only chance to play a big semi-final at Wembley and they really have nothing to lose with Arsenal being such huge favourites.
4) Arsenal are big favourites for the game, are you confident of an upset?
@imnotasian1994 - as much as I'd like to say yes, I really can't see past an Arsenal win. Although saying that, 14/1 for Reading to win is surely worth a fiver?
@lexamufu - Confident is probably not the word I would choose. Everyone is aware of the current form Arsenal are in and the calibre of talent they have in their side. They are definitely the clear favourites for a reason. As Wigan showed for the majority of their semi-final last year against the Gunners, however, we know it is possible for the underdogs to put on a show. Reading have the players who are capable of making an impact, it will just depend on whether they can keep Arsenal out at the other end long enough to do so.
@TalkMurtyToMe - I don't think you could find a single stat that points to a Reading win, so yes, why not! It's the FA Cup, anything can happen and it's the freedom that that gives us that might just get us a result. As I've said, we'll be preparing for the challenge as best we can, and if we can upset all the odds and get a result then so be it.
@TheTilehurstEnd - Good lord no! Should Reading pull this one off it would be for me, the biggest upset in cup semi-final history. Every single indicator points to an Arsenal win but hey it's the cup and anything can happen I guess!
5) Do you think Steve Clarke will have a game plan for this match? What do you think this will be?
@imnotasian1994 - I think you'll see a grittier performance. Much more physical with the emphasis on closing Arsenal down as quick as possible.
@lexamufu - Steve Clarke will most certainly be going into this one with a plan, he would be foolish not to. I would imagine that he will be opting with a 4-5-1 formation, trying to keep the side compact and focused. The main aim will probably be to keep Arsenal out for at least the first twenty minutes. If they score early and Reading are left to chase the game, I can see it ending badly. Reading will also be keen to make the most of corners and to use the counter-attack effectively.
@TalkMurtyToMe - With no disrespectful to Clarke, it'd be a disaster if we didn't go with five in midfield. We'll look to do the basics right, defend well and look to counter with pace as Arsenal get frustrated. If you get the early goal, it could be a landslide, but Clarke will hope we can keep you out for as long as possible and go from there. It'll be tough but he wouldn't be here if he didn't think we could get a result.
@TheTilehurstEnd - He'll certainly be trying to be compact and keep things tight by getting bodies behind the ball. Reading's only real chances will come from quick counter attacks from the likes of Garath McCleary or set pieces so our mission will simply be to keep things quiet and hope Arsenal made a sloppy mistake.
6) Which Reading players do you think can cause Arsenal problems?
@imnotasian1994 - I think Pogrebnyak could provide a more physical aspect for the Arsenal defence to deal with. Williams and Karacan are tireless players, they'll keep going for the full 90 minutes, regardless of score!
@lexamufu - Jamie Mackie will be one of the key players for Reading. He has found the net on several occasions in the Championship but is also capable of creating chances for his teammates. Mackie is also not scared of chasing down opponents and pressuring them into rushing their passes. If Arsenal pass the ball around the back for too long, you can be sure that Mackie will be there to punish them.
Garath McCleary will also cause problems on the wing, especially if given the chance to counter. McCleary’s pace is one of his key assets and if given a chance to run into the box, is not afraid to have a shot.
Defensively, the likes of Nathaniel Chalobah and Danny Williams have the ability to limit Arsenal’s play in central midfield while Michael Hector at the back is strong, tall and fast enough to provide cover to Federici’s goal.
@TalkMurtyToMe - Nathaniel Chalobah has been at the heart of everything good for us since joining from Chelsea on loan. He'll be the heartbeat, looking to break up play and pick a pass when necessary. Jamie Mackie is our in form striker, although I think we'll see him out on the wing in favour of the five in midfield. Mackie will run all day, and should hopefully cause problems for your full backs. As for defensively, Adam Federici has been our player of the season thus far, and if we're to get anything from the game, Federici has to be at the top of his game.
@TheTilehurstEnd - The aforementioned McCleary has the ability in his locker although he hasn't shown much this season as he recovers from injury. Jamie Mackie has been in good form in front of goal while Pavel Pogrebnyak has done it at the highest level in the past.
7) Which Arsenal players do you worry about the most before the game?
@imnotasian1994 - Giroud and Sanchez! Great finishers with enough pace to force our backline in to mistakes!
@lexamufu - Arsenal have strength in depth, so no matter what starting lineup Wenger opts with you know they will be dangerous all over the pitch. Alexis Sanchez will be the obvious threat. His goal scoring record this season speaks for itself, and his pace has the potential to cause Reading some serious problems. The likes of Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil in central midfield are also dangerous. They are happy to pass the ball between themselves until the opportunity to strike presents itself, and they are fully capable of both scoring and setting up goals.
@TalkMurtyToMe - Where to start? Arsenal have such an array of attacking talent, Ozil, Sanchez, Cazorla, Ramsey... the list goes on! There's nothing I can say that hasn't already been said about those guys, but i'm sure Clarke has said it too.
@TheTilehurstEnd - All of them? Seriously I can't pick out anyone who won't cause us problems!
8) Any other thoughts?
@imnotasian1994 - With Szcesney in goal, I feel a bit more confident in a Reading win! ??
@lexamufu - With Arsenal being the current cup holders and Reading having never made it to the final of the FA Cup before, both sets of fans should be in for a highly contested and entertaining game of football. While we wish you the best of luck for the rest of the Premiership season, we will be hoping to cause an upset come Saturday evening.
@TalkMurtyToMe - We know it's going to be a challenge, but this is the FA Cup, so why on earth not? Either way, it's going to be a great day. But make no mistake, we're not just here for a day out. We want to win.
Thanks to the guys above. The sun is shining and hopefully we'll have an entertaining game of football between two committed teams. Best of luck to Reading for the remainder of their season (after today of course)