By Ian Palmer
Reading’s reward for reaching the semifinals of the English FA Cup is to meet reigning cup holders Arsenal at London’s Wembley Stadium on either April 18 or 19. The English Championship League club earned a shot at the top-tier Premier League side after beating third-tier Bradford City 3-0 at home on March 17. The two teams had met earlier in the quarterfinals, but couldn’t solve anything as they played to a goalless draw. However, second-tier Reading didn’t have any problem disposing their opponents in the replay. Bradford City was seen as the Cinderella team of the tournament since they earned wins over Premier League squads Chelsea and Sunderland in their successful 2014/14 FA Cup run.
Reading has an outside chance of taking the FA Cup as bet365 lists them at 20/1 to hoist it at Wembley. Arsenal is the favorite at 5/6 followed by Liverpool at 2/1 and Aston Villa at 7/1. Blackburn Rovers are the long shot at 40/1.
The last time fans saw Reading appear in an FA Cu p semifinal contest was 1927. They have arguably the toughest task in front of them of the remaining five teams, but there have been dozens of Cup upsets over the years. The other semifinal participants still haven’t been confirmed as of yet. Premier League side Aston Villa has guaranteed themselves a spot in the final four at Wembley. But Championship League club Blackburn Rovers and Liverpool of the Premier League still need to replay their match in Blackburn following a 0-0 stalemate at Anfield.
Reading more or less put their game to bed early against Bradford as they jumped into a 2-0 lead before the encounter was 10 minutes old. Hal Robson-Kanu put the home side on the scoreboard first and Garath McCleary followed up just a few minutes later. Bradford’s hopes of a second half comeback flew out the window when midfielder Filipe Morais was sent off the pitch with a red card. Reading then wrapped things up when Jamie Mackie scored to make it 3-0 after 68 minutes.
It could be argued that Reading had the luck of the draw on their side in this year’s FA Cup campaign as they were never matched up against a Premier League opponent along the way. That trend has now come to an abrupt end with Arsenal waiting for them at Wembley. The semifinal winners will meet in the FA Cup Final at Wembley in May. Reading has an outside chance of taking the Cup as bet365 lists them at 20/1 to hoist it at Wembley. Arsenal is the favorite at 5/6 followed by Liverpool at 2/1 and Aston Villa at 7/1. Blackburn Rovers are the long shot at 40/1.