LONDON (SE) - Two teams in massive need of a win meet at the Madejski Stadium on Monday evening, when Reading host Arsenal.
Reading (1-6-9) dropped to the bottom of the Premier League table after Queens Park Rangers beat Fulham on Saturday afternoon, and have lost five on the bounce to find themselves two wins from safety at the foot of the division. However, if anything visitors Arsenal (6-6-4) are under even greater pressure having won just one in four in the Premier League before crashing out of the League Cup at Bradford in midweek - wasting the Gunners' best chance of ending their eight-year trophy drought.
"The squad felt disappointment and frustration, that is normal when you go out in a competition like that," admitted Wenger after the defeat on penalties at Bradford. "Having said that, we can only look at ourselves, get on with it and look to the future.
"This team cares, is serious and wants to do well. I do not question the spirit of the team. We are top professional people. What is important is what happens tomorrow, not what happened yesterday. We are sorry, but what is important is the next game."
Arsenal have gone 269 minutes without scoring a goal from open play in the Premier League, and have no wins in the last four on the road. Reading, meanwhile, have failed to find the net in three of their last four games and only QPR had taken fewer points at home heading into this round of Premier League matches.
Reading manager Brian McDermott knows that his team need a strong second half of the season if they are to escape the drop, and is hopeful of strengthening the Royals' squad in the upcoming January transfer window.
"Staying in the Premier League for us is massively important, of course it is," said McDermott ahead of Monday's game. "But, even spending a lot of money doesn't guarantee anything. You can't guarantee anything by spending 20, 30 million quid. It would be good to get two or three lads in that have played at the level, know the level - have that nous. That isn't cheap.
"If we can do that, and we can do it within a budget, then great. But obviously for us, I want to be a Premier League manager this time next year. We want to be a Premier League football club. It's massive to us."
Jason Roberts, Pavel Pogrebnyak, Hal Robson-Kanu and Jimmy Kebe are doubtful for Reading, but Jem Karacan remains out with a knee problem. Arsenal are without Lukasz Fabianski (ankle) and Abou Diaby (thigh), while Olivier Giroud (back), Theo Walcott (calf) and Laurent Koscielny (thigh) are doubtful.
Away from home Arsenal have been strong defensively, conceding just six goals - the second best record in the league after Manchester City. However, the Gunners' tally of just eight scored on the road is lower than any of the teams above them in the table.
Reading and Arsenal have met just four times in Premier League history, with the Gunners winning all four and out-scoring the Royals 11-2. The meeting between these two teams in the League Cup earlier in the season was one of the games of the campaign so far, with Arsenal coming from 4-0 down to win 7-5 in extra-time.