Goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola talks penalties, Arsenal, and his time with the Royals so far...Royals stopper Anssi Jaakkola was pleased with his performance in last Tuesday’s Checkatrade Trophy clash at Portsmouth, with the keeper playing a pivotal role in securing a bonus point for Reading in an enthralling penalty shootout.
Jaakkola made four superb saves during the spot-kicks, with Reading eventually wrapping up a 4-3 win in the shootout against their League 2 hosts.
“As a goalkeeper when you save four penalties that is something you can be proud of,” reflected Jaakkola. “The pressure is not on the goalkeeper’s side and you have nothing to lose so it is easy to go into the penalty shootout.
“In the end I suppose it comes down to the luck. Some days the luck is on your side and you end up saving a few, thankfully that night the luck was on my side. It gives you that little extra push when you know the gaffer is there watching the game.
“The opposition keeper made some great saves,” he continued. “It was a bit frustrating to be honest! I would make a save and then he would save the next one; all we needed to do was score one more which we weren’t able to do immediately. Luckily in the end we scored that goal and won the game.”
The Finnish keeper has enjoyed his time in England so far and says he is adjusting to the busy schedule of fixtures and the other challenges the Championship presents.
Jaakkola is relishing the competition with fellow keeper Ali Al-Habsi and is pushing hard when given the chance on the pitch to show manager Jaap Stam what he can do.
“It’s been a good experience being in England, there are a lot of games which is something to get used to,” admitted the Finn. “Not many leagues in the world have 46 league games plus the cup games; it takes time to get used to it but it’s been good.
“Ali is a great keeper to train with and he’s been in great form since the season has started, I just need to keep doing my best in the cup games and show the gaffer that I am ready to play as well.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time on the training field and training with the keepers, so it’s been great.”
After some good displays in the EFL Cup, Anssi has helped the Royals reach the competition’s fourth round and an exciting tie against Premier League giants Arsenal at the Emirates, a fixture that the Reading keeper is very much looking forward to.
“Arsenal will be a massive game for us,” admitted the goalkeeper. “For me as well, hopefully I can keep my place in the team, and I’m really looking forward to that game.
“It will be one of the biggest games I have played in, playing against Arsenal at the Emirates, it doesn’t get much bigger than that. When it is a cup game it is a little bit different, you’re playing for trophies and it is a much shorter route to reach your goals and the final rather than a long season in the league, so there is a little extra factor there.
“It was a good short break during the international fixtures and was nice to get my mind away from football,” Anssi continued. “Just being with the family, I’ve got two young kids so most of time was spent with them, they keep me busy off the field!
“I’m looking forward to getting back to football now and this week when we get the guys back from international duty and we can start preparing for next weekend’s game.”