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This blog entry is written in real time. The following takes place between 10AM and 12PM, Eastern Standard Time.

It’s time to salvage whatever’s left of the premiership, Liverpool lost so we can secure our place in the top four with a win. Lehmann’s playing instead of Almunia which would tell me that Wenger values this game more than the Blackburn tie, isn’t that crazy? Watching this game on ESPN via P2P: And anytime Chevy Singh makes a prediction in our favor, we lose or tie and he picks Arsenal to win in a high scoring affair. This has not started well. But Singh seems to be a bit of an Arsenal supporter defending them on their recent losses by saying they still “played the way football should be played”. No Henry, Adebayor, Toure, Eboue, Rosicky or Flamini for this one, so the kids get to play this one out.

The first bad first-touch of the game came from Fabregas, after being setup by Hleb, Fabregas played it too long much to the liking of Hanneman who calmly collected. The first Arsenal chance of the game is a good one but is spoiled by young Cesc. I don’t know what makes Freddie Ljunberg think he can still break down and out-run two defenders who are both in front of him on the flank, but thats what he tries to do and gets stopped. Walcott’s playing in the middle a lot today and his first “chance” comes when he tries to make a Dennis Bergkamp type move to evade the defender by using a first touch would send the ball behind the defender, didn’t work but nice try. Arsenal have all the possession early on and are applying all the pressure but that doesn’t mean a thing now, does it? Until we score, Reading doesn’t care how much possession we have.

It’s stupid for us to expect Baptista to score given his history and his brick wall of a first touch. He has a chance early on right in front of the box, and after a decent first touch, his shot is wide to the right, should have at least challenged Hanneman. Arsenal are breaking forward with Fabregas leading the way and after an exchange of passes between Hleb, Ljunberg and Gallas, it’s Ljunberg who gets to apply the final touch but it’s straight at Hanneman who does well.

Fabregas almost found Walcott on a long pass down the middle but there was too much pace on the ball. At least Walcott is having an impact on this game and making his presence felt. Arsenal playing freely and without any restraints, everything’s happening quickly and there seems to be a sense of urgency about Arsenal’s game – after all it’s been a pretty crappy week. But all that urgency and possession haven’t counted for anything.

Arsenal starting to give the ball away in midfield and Reading is using that to string passes and confidence together. But nothing of consequence comes out of it. The difference between Reading and Blackburn is that Reading actually make a legitimate effort to go forward, albeit, it’s somewhat poor and lacking smoothness but it’s still not boring to watch.

Then typical Arsenal: Baptista and Fabregas have one man to beat and for once Baptista does everything absolutely right and set up Fabregas who just has to tap it in, something any one of us could do with ease, but his shot is a whiff, a complete whiff! He strikes it with his ankle and completely misses it. What a howler! Embarrassing. Definitely should’ve been 1-0 and Reading has to be loving this.

First Half Highlights

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Chevy Singh is asked if he still is picking Arsenal to win, give the man credit, he sticks by the Gunners.

Fabregas with two quick chances early on, one setup by Walcott right in front but the defender proves to be more physical and Fabregas goes down too easily. Right after that Fabregas fires a good effort from far out. Stephen Hunt chases down a pass but Lehmann is quicker to it and Hunt responds by going down for no reason. He’s trying to get Lehmann sent off the dirty scum but he’s about to pay the price. Gael Clichy makes a run down the right and is brought down – penalty! No doubt about it. But wait, who’s going to step up to take it, it’s standing captain Gilberto who beats Hanneman to the right. Strong penalty, keeper guesses right but there’s too much power on it. No arguments on the Reading side about the penalty.

Hunt dives, Lehmann laughs, Clichy draws foul, Gilberto penalty 1-0

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Walcott is down the right and tries to curl it in a-la Thierry Henry but he gets too straight and there’s no curl to the ball as it goes harmlessly wide. Walcott’s causing some problems for Reading down the right but most he can get out of them is corners of which Arsenal have had plenty all season with little to show for.

Arsenal on the counter attack and it’s Baptista who finds himself with just one defender to beat and he’s one-on-one. My first instinct was that he’ll screw it up somehow but after a couple touches (one where he gets lucky), he uses his strength to hold off the defender and slots it past the keeper.

Julio Baptista 2-0

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3 on 1 break for Arsenal and Ljunberg plays it behind Walcott who has trouble controlling it. The game is wide open now and Reading are pulling all the plugs in hopes of going forward. So after Baptista scored today we really shouldn’t expect him to score for the next few weeks, it would be too much to ask and he agrees. At least that’s what it looks like when he half-heartedly strikes a ball which goes into the stands. I’m being a pessimist but I really think he got a little lucky on that goal.

The game was open till the end and Senderos is brought in to defend the corner and quickly concedes a header which goes in. Poor Senderos, God hates him. On the replay, it looked like Fabregas might have tipped it in, so after a howler in the first half, Fabregas gets an own goal. Sidwell comes close to equalizing but Lehmann reaches down to his left to save Arsenal blushes. Aliadiere is also in the game and he has a chance to ice the game but misses a free header that makes him look a little stupid.

Arsenal don’t close this one out the way they wanted to but come out with three points. The Champions League is next.

Fabregas own goal and complete match highlights and analysis

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