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Stam admits Arsenal has been on back-burner for Royals

24 October 2016

Gaffer previews visit to the Emirates in EFL Cup

Reading boss Jaap Stam said that our high-profile fixture against Arsenal in the EFL Cup hasn’t been high on the agenda for the team – until now.

The Royals have had six Championship fixtures since the draw was made – which included a win against league leaders Huddersfield and Saturday’s win in Rotherham.

And now, finally, the attention turns to a visit to the Emirates and an opportunity at matching our best ever performance in the competition by reaching the semi-final.

“It’s a game that everybody is looking forward to – especially fans and people around Reading, because you never know what’s going to happen,” said Stam.

“For ourselves, we have been looking at things game to game, including in the league – we want to get a result in every league game before we thought about Arsenal.  Now we have played this game against Rotherham, we have a result, everybody is very happy – now we’re going to look at Arsenal, see their games and try to create a plan to get a result.

“As a technical staff, and the players as well, we haven’t spoken about it at all.  A couple of weeks ago when the draw was made, everybody was happy to play against Arsenal – they are a big team and a great team to play against, with a lot of quality… but that was it.  The games kept on coming for us in the league.

“We needed to focus on that and try to get results in the league, and not think about Arsenal – you don’t need to think about that game when you’ve still got a lot of hard work in the league to get your points.”

Stam will be in the away dugout, while Arsene Wenger will watch on from the home dugout – as he has done for the past 20 years at the Gunners’ helm.

The Royals boss featured as a player for Manchester United against Wenger’s Arsenal teams in the Premier League; now he hopes to devise a plan to get the better of the North London club on their turf.

“It is incredible for a manager to stay at a club that long, and get results and build teams as well – and also a team with a certain style of play,” he continued.  “He has done a great job.

“I’ve played against his teams as well and they made it very difficult for us at times – and the other way round as well.  They were always nice games to play against Arsenal, and now as a manager I know that it is going to be a difficult game; they have got a lot of qualities.

“But for us, we’ve got nothing to lose – of course we want to have a result, and we’re going to make it as difficult as we can for them and see how we end up.

“We’re going to look at the games they have played and how they play.  They have a lot of movement and a lot of quality in the team and we need to find an answer for that.  They need to think about us as well because it is dangerous to underestimate certain teams.  But they that and they have a very experienced manager and great players – we’ll see how it goes on Tuesday.”

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