Centre-back looks ahead to ArsenalAlex Pearce believes that tomorrow’s FA Cup Semi-Final against Arsenal at Wembley will be one of the biggest games of his career.
Since making his Royals debut, which coincidently also came in the FA Cup, against Burnley in January 2007, the centre-back’s career has overseen a full Premier League campaign and a Wembley play-off final.
But the 26-year-old says the prospect of coming up the in-form Gunners at the national stadium comes close to trumping any of the encounters he has previously been involved in.
He said: “It’s going to be a very special day for everyone involved in the cub. For myself, personally, I’ve been at the club since I was 12 and it’s going to be an absolute honour to be involved in a day like that.
“We’re just looking to go there, give a good account of ourselves and let Arsenal know that they’ve been in a game. Saturday will definitely be up there; right up there with the biggest matches I’ve played in.
“Being promoted, the play-off final day, that was a great day. Obviously, not in terms of the result but for what we did after that and to get promoted the next season. It certainly spurred us on in a way. In hindsight, that day is up there and so is the day we got promoted at Madejski Stadium.
“There have been many great days at this club and hopefully Saturday will be another one. We know what we are in for with Arsenal. There are players in our dressing room that have played in the Premier League before, though, and we have played against Arsenal before.
“We know they’ve got top quality players but the manager will prepare us really well, we’ll go there with a gameplan and hopefully we can carry it out.”
Saturday’s game will see the Royals appear in an FA Cup Semi-Final for only the second time in its 144-year history, with the last one coming in 1927.
Pearce said: “This year’s cup run has been great. It’s kind of strange how we haven’t replicated our cup form in the league. That is a bit down to consistency levels from the players, we’ll admit that ourselves.
“We’ve had a bit of luck in the cup to get where we are but sometimes you need that and we deserve to be where we are. We haven’t won since Bradford but we feel like we’re due a win and we haven’t played that badly in the last few games.
“Having spoken to the manager and the lads, we can’t quite believe that we’ve only picked up three points from our last four matches because we’ve played well in those games. Saturday is a one off and we’ll be going into it in high spirits and with a positive attitude to get a good result.”
Reading’s U21s beat a star-studded Arsenal on Monday evening and Pearce revealed that the result has given the whole club a lift.
“That was great for everyone,” he said. “The U21s lads are all buzzing, especially Niall Keown. For him to go to a club that his dad played for for so many years and score the winner was great.
“That’s given the boys a bit of a lift around the place and if we can replicate that on Saturday then we’d certainly take it!”