Monday 19 February 2018

McShane: Shackles are off for Arsenal test

Reading captain Paul McShane Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Reading captain Paul McShane Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile Newsdesk Newsdesk

Reading captain Paul McShane says "the shackles are off" for his side tonight as they put on hold their primary objective of winning promotion back into the Premier League to take on Arsenal in the League Cup.

The Royals travel to the Emirates for their fourth-round tie boosted by Saturday's 1-0 victory at Rotherham - a result that ended a four-game winless run and left them within a point of the Championship play-off spots. McShane admits the league remains Reading's priority this season but insists at the same time they will be doing all they can to upset the Gunners, saying "everything its possible".

The 30-year-old Irish defender said: "As a player, you want to be playing against big clubs like Arsenal week in, week out in the Premier the league has got to be a priority. But that makes Tuesday night's match a bonus game.

"And it's not impossible. If you can get a good cup run and win a few games, suddenly you're in a semi-final and then a final - and if you win a cup, the club talks about it for years and years to come.

"We can play good stuff as we've seen this season, so let's go and test ourselves against the best.

"Arsenal are a very good side, obviously - they had won seven on the bounce before the weekend. But it will be a good test for everyone.

"The shackles are off. We'll go and enjoy the game, and everything is possible."

While McShane - a member of the Hull team that lost to Arsenal in the 2014 FA Cup final - has outlined the positives of a good cup run, he also knows there can be downsides as well.

Last season Reading reached the last eight of the FA Cup but at the same time saw any faint promotion hopes disappear, with the Royals picking up just nine points from their final 13 Championship games to finish in 17th place.

"The cups have got to be secondary this season," said the Ireland international.

"We had a good cup run last season but we fell off the edge of a cliff in the league - and the league is your bread and butter. The league is where you are successful."

Defender Liam Moore also believes Jaap Stam's side are heading to the Emirates with nothing to lose.

"It's a game that I look at and think it's a good test," he said. "Obviously Arsenal are well known for attractive football, but we play quite attractive football as well so it will be really good to test ourselves against them.

"They are at the elite - we are striving to be where they are in the Premier League. So it will be a great night for us and it will be equally as special for the fans."

Irish Independent

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