Arsenal will be too good for Reading at Wembley, warns ex-Gunners star
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
Former Arsenal FA Cup winner Brian Talbot has urged the holders on to further Wembley glory – starting with a comprehensive win over Reading on Saturday.
The Gunners are in sensational form going into their last four clash with the Royals and are overwhelming favourites for a second successive final appearance.
Arsene Wenger’s side have won eight successive Premier League games – and 11 in 12 in all competitions – since their shock 2-1 loss at Tottenham on February 7.
They now have Championship outfit Reading in their sights and Talbot is convinced there will only be one result.
“Arsenal are bursting with confidence and playing at the very top of their game at this moment in time. Make no mistake, this is not a distraction from the league, definitely not,” says Talbot.
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“They are on an amazing run of form that has propelled them to second – and they have big games to come, notably against Chelsea and Manchester United.
“But they’ll relish stepping out at Wembley, knowing they are just 180 minutes from another trophy.
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“As a big club you want to win the big trophies, and despite the fact the Champions League and Premier League have such magnificent financial rewards, the FA Cup is still huge. Look at the reaction when Arsenal won it last year.”
And the midfielder – a Highbury favourite until his departure to Watford in 1985 – says the current Gunners side are more than capable of continuing their winning run, whatever the opposition.
“Once you start winning it becomes a habit, and Arsenal are in that habit right now,” adds Talbot, a member of Arsenal’s 1979 Cup-winning side who memorably beat Manchester United 3-2 in what later became known ‘The Five Minute Final’.
“They are two games away from retaining the trophy and they will feel nothing can stop them. This is a bonus game for them and with their confidence sky high I expect them to play well and win.
“Reading are a decent side, but no disrespect – Arsenal have better players in every single position. They will be hoping Arsenal will have an off day, but the form Arsenal are in says they won’t.”
Talbot played in three successive finals, first for Ipswich when they beat Arsenal 1-0 in the 1978 final before moving to Highbury the following January.
As well as playing a starring role in that final against United 12 months later – scoring Arsenal’s first goal – he also played in the Gunners’ shock 1-0 defeat to Division Two side West Ham United in the 1980 ‘Cockney Final’.
“Playing in a Wembley cup final was every boy’s dream and, hopefully, still is,” adds Talbot.
“In my day it was more important than any other game, but that may not be the case any more.
“Maybe the foreign lads will not see it as the biggest game but 35 years ago it was predominantly English and British lads who were playing.
“When all’s said and done, it remains a truly wonderful tournament and Arsenal will see winning the cup again and finishing higher than fourth, where they finished last season, as progress.
“They still have an outside chance for the league title but Chelsea will have to really fall badly to lose it now. So they are really gunning for second place with the Manchester clubs.
“If they can get this game wrapped up on Saturday then they can concentrate fully on finishing as high as possible in the league … with the added incentive of a cup final at the end of it all.”