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Stam On Arsenal Cup Defeat: We Went For It

A steep learning curve for a lot of the players.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Our EFL Cup run is over after a 2-0 defeat against Arsenal at the Emirates. Boss Jaap Stam admitted that the Gunners were the better side.

Stam started Liam Kelly, Dominic Samuels and Tennai Watson last night and was keen for the players to experience the occasion and them to learn a lot from the game.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored both goals for Arsenal. It was another game where the Royals made things difficult for themselves and handed chances to the home side on a plate.

Stam told the Official Club Website:

"It's never nice to lose but today. But today, I think you saw, we played against a very good side.

"We didn't want to let them get into their game, because if we gave them time and space on the ball we knew they would make it difficult for us.

"We could have done a bit better. But when you play against a team like this, it's a learning experience. For the young players who played today, you need to learn from these games, pick things up from playing at this level and playing in stadiums like this.

"We went for it. The boys worked very hard for it. We created a couple of chances. But it's never easy against Arsenal. And of course, they had chances to score too."

Ali Al Habsi was again very good in goal making several superb saves to keep the Royals in the game, but the pick of the bunch was to deny Olivier Giroud, Stam added:

"Ali is an experienced goalkeeper. He made a very similar save on Saturday in fact, and he's a great goalkeeper, quick in reacting - and he saved us there!

"He made a couple of others too. He's in good shape, improving with age, and he has been great for us - hopefully he can keep it up."

As I said above, the Royals didn't make things easy for themselves and gifted Oxlade-Chamberlain with the first goal. We got away with it against Aston Villa, but that would never happen against Arsenal. Stam said:

"Sometimes you lose the ball. And against a side like Arsenal, they're deadly up front. If you play possession and have time on the ball, you need to be very accurate in your passing and in what you're doing.

"We need to learn from that, and make decisions not to play that ball at times, look for a different solution."

Next up, on Saturday, Nottingham Forest visit the Madejski and Stam hopes that the support the Royals had at the Emirates Tuesday evening can be reciprocated at the weekend.

"We want to do well against them, we want a result, The fans have been here in their numbers today and they were great for us - hopefully they can do the same thing for us on the Saturday and hopefully we can get a result.

"We made some chances tonight because we need to look at the games we are playing next. Arsenal have a squad of 65 players contracted - we haven't. So we need to look at what we're doing and set our priorities.

"We need to look at what is most important to us as a club and I think the league is the most important thing for us - so we needed to make choices. Of course we want to get as far as we can in the cups, all the way to the final if we can, but certain players need to have a rest at certain times too.

"It was tempting to start with certain players tonight, but some have a few niggles after the last league game and we need to be careful with the players we have. We need to set our priorities.

"Because of these games in the cup, there has been no rest for us. But we are all looking forward to the games coming up and Nottingham Forest on Saturday."

Stay tuned to The Tilehurst End for a full match report, player ratings, and reaction from the game.