Reading's Brynjar Gunnarsson is hoping to annoy Arsenal tonight as much as he irritated Manchester United on the opening day of the season.
The Iceland midfielder is one of the Premier League's least flamboyant characters, a spoiler rather than a creator, which was exactly what was lacking last season, when Arsenal came away from the Madejski Stadium with a 4-0 victory. The Royals' manager, Steve Coppell, usually employs him in central midfield but occasionally hands him a special man-marking mission.
"Against United we followed our man," said Gunnarsson. "Me and James Harper were up against Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick. I was more on Scholes than Carrick and we got the point. We limited their chances. They only had three or four good ones.
"I would be fine about doing the same with [Cesc] Fabregas. It's a job. If you are given a job you do it."
The Reading defender Michael Duberry is unlikely to feature after cracking ribs in last week's 3-1 defeat at Fulham so Ivar Ingimarsson stands by for a recall. The winger John Oster is available again following an ankle injury.
Tomas Rosicky and Kolo Touré are fit for Arsenal and Fabregas and Alexander Hleb, rested last week, are also set to return. "I will change things around. I left out eight players at Slavia [Prague on Wednesday] and they are all capable to play again," said the manager Arsène Wenger.
Arsenal are unbeaten in 26 matches and the expectation is for Wenger to deliver silverware. Coppell is under a different kind of pressure. Wenger praised Coppell's achievements with Reading and backed them to retain their Premier League status. Wenger also urged Reading to see the bigger picture at the end of a week which saw this season's fourth dismissal of a Premier League manager.
"People do feel panic but it is down to every club to make the right decision," he said. "At the beginning of the season a club has a football target and a financial target. When you accept that kind of target you have to accept the consequences. For a club like Reading if you balance your budget, you know you can go down or stay in the league. Last year they did beyond expectations and this year I think they will do it again and stay in the league. If he [Coppell] can keep Reading in the Premier League for 10 years then he will be the manager there."Reuse content