MX23RW : Wednesday, October 17 10:28:09

On this day: Reading, Arsenal involved in epic League Cup clash

On this day in 2012, Theo Walcott scored a hat-trick as Arsenal and Reading were involved in one of the most remarkable matches in League Cup history.

Earlier this week, Arsenal were expected to make light work of Sheffield Wednesday in the fourth round of the League Cup, but the Gunners would fall short against the Owls, slumping to a deserved 3-0 defeat at Hillsborough. Three years ago today, they would face a similar conundrum in the form of Reading at the Madejski Stadium, but instead of coming through with ease, Arsenal would end the evening having being involved in one of the most remarkable matches in the history of the competition.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger made 11 changes to the team that had beaten Queens Park Rangers three days earlier, but the Frenchman was still able to name a starting lineup that included the likes of Laurent Koscielny, Theo Walcott and Andrei Arshavin. Johan Djourou also added some experience at the back, but in the space of 37 minutes, the Gunners had conceded four goals as Reading ran in front of their own fans.

The Royals had scored six goals to progress through their opening two fixtures of the tournament, and they required just 11 minutes to go ahead in this encounter. Hal Robson-Kanu made himself available on the left flank before driving over a cross for Jason Roberts to slide in at the back post and send the ball into the roof of the net. Koscielny had been at fault for the goal, and the centre-back had a hand in Reading's second too by diverting a Chris Gunter cutback into his own net.

Jason Roberts of Reading celebrates scoring the first goal during the Capital One Cup Fourth Round match between Reading and Arsenal at Madejski Stadium on October 30, 2012© Getty Images

Arsenal were left reeling, but they continued to contribute to their own downfall as goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez helped Reading net for the third time in the opening 20 minutes when he punched a Mikele Leigertwood shot into his own net. The North London giants looked a threat on the break, but the match appeared done and dusted on 35 minutes when Reading scored a fourth, this time through Noel Hunt who rose above Carl Jenkinson to send a header past Martinez from eight yards.

Brian McDermott's men had the appetite for more goals before the break, but much to the frustration of their manager, the home side conceded just before the half-time whistle when Walcott beat the offside trap to clip the ball over Adam Federici. The alarm bells would not have been ringing inside the Reading dressing room at the break, but the goal altered Arsenal's mindset and they returned for the second half intent on putting pressure on their opponents, who had let in three second-half goals against Fulham 72 hours earlier.

A second goal would arrive 19 minutes after the restart when Olivier Giroud scored with a header moments after being introduced as a substitute, but Reading reached the 89th minute having maintained a two-goal advantage, and they appeared certainties to progress through to the last eight. However, Koscielny headed home a Walcott corner to give the Gunners hope of a stunning comeback, before in the fifth minute of added-on time, Walcott forced the ball past Federici to send their supporters behind the goal into ecstasy and give his side 30 minutes to complete what would be regarded as one of the best comebacks in English football history.

Theo Walcott of Arsenal celebrates their sixth goal during the Capital One Cup Fourth Round match between Reading and Arsenal at Madejski Stadium on October 30, 2012© Getty Images

The momentum was with Arsenal and shortly before the end of the first period of extra time, Marouane Chamakh, who had not scored for the club for 409 days, drove towards the edge of the penalty area before firing a low strike past Federici. Reading looked beaten by the ninth goal of an enthralling contest, but with four minutes to go, they found an equaliser through Pavel Pogrebnyak, who got a head to Gunter's volley to leave the match heading towards a penalty shootout.

However, the drama was not over. With Reading having thrown men forward, Arsenal broke in numbers and after Arshavin had seen a shot cleared off the line, the rebound fell to Walcott, who made no mistake from six yards. It appeared that an absorbing game had come to a fitting conclusion, but there was still time for Chamakh to take advantage of tired legs in the Reading backline to break clear and net his second with a well-executed lob, and that proved to be the final incident of an unforgettable night.

Arsenal would lose to League One club Bradford City in the last eight, and the 2012-13 competition would be best remembered for the Bantams' run to Wembley, where they would lose to Swansea City. However, this fixture remains one of just two ties to feature 12 goals in the history of the tournament, and the start of the evening, as well as the conclusion of both normal and extra time, arguably make the match the best match to take place in the League Cup since it was found in 1960.

Reading: Federici, Gunter, Shorey, Morrison, Gorkss, Leigertwood, Tabb, Robson-Kanu, Hunt, McCleary, Roberts
Subs: Taylor, Pearce, Harte, McAnuff, Pogrebnyak, Le Fondre, Church

Arsenal: Martinez, Koscielny, Djourou, Jenkinson, Miquel, Walcott, Coquelin, Arshavin, Frimpong, Gnabry, Chamakh
Subs: Shea, Squillaci, Bellerin, Eisfeld, Meade, Yennaris, Giroud

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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City86202131820
2Chelsea86201851320
3Liverpool86201531220
4Arsenal86021910918
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs8602157818
6Bournemouth85121612416
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves843196315
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd84131314-113
9Watford84131112-113
10Leicester CityLeicester84041412212
11Everton83321312112
12Burnley82241012-28
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton8224913-48
14Crystal Palace821559-47
15West Ham UnitedWest Ham8215813-57
16Southampton8125614-85
17Fulham8125921-125
18Huddersfield TownHuddersfield8035417-133
19Newcastle UnitedNewcastle8026613-72
20Cardiff CityCardiff8026417-132

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