Arsenal 4 Reading 1

This was the type of Arsenal performance that had become their hallmark in recent years, but one which had been sorely missed of late. Passing with clever movement, and at pace would usually destroy the opponent, and against a relegation threatened Reading that proved to be the case. Goals from Gervinho – his ninth in a frustrating season – Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and a Mikel Arteta penalty ensured the Gunners blew away the Royals who got on the score-sheet courtesy of Hal Robson-Kanu.

I enjoyed our technical and creative side says Wenger after Reading rout - Listen

 

Having netted an incredible sixteen goals in all encounters against Reading this season, Arsenal were always going to be capable of scoring more goals, but Arsene Wenger had warned of complacency against a side fighting for their top flight life. Wenger elected to keep team captain Thomas Vermaelen on the bench where after revealing of the mental concerns Wojciech Szczesny also remained. Much to the disbelief of many however, Gervinho was given a start, but justified his manager’s inclusion with the opener after ten minutes.

A sweeping move saw the Ivorian start the move with a pass to Giroud. He fed the advancing Cazorla who worked the space on the right to produce a cross that fell just perfectly for the Gunners’ 27 to find the roof of the net, to score in consecutive Premiership games for the Gunners.

That sequence of possession and neat passing play was to repeat itself and but for some desperate Reading defending, Cazorla and Gervinho should have put the game out of sight for the Gunners. Former Arsenal ‘keeper Stuart Taylor was deemed surplus to requirements by Wenger, and his clattering of Giroud after 18 minutes should have seen the visitors reduced to ten men, but Chris Foy appeared to miss the incident.

Gervinho was then at fault with a counter attack at pace. He brought the ball out, the Reading defence backed off, but with Giorud better placed to his left, Gervinho’s shot went tamely wide after 22 minutes. Reading then got another slice of luck with a clear hand ball which Foy also missed.

Lukasz Fabianki saw very little to worry him or his defence until he was called on to save at full stretch from Robson-Kanu on the half hour mark. Aaron Ramsey is enjoying something of a resurgence in his Gunners’ career, and in the absence of Jack Wilshere was happy to run at the Reading defence. Once again last ditch defensive blocks – one from Alex Pearce from Giroud and it must be said from Gervinho ensured that only one goal separated the sides at the break.

Two minutes after the re-start however that would all change. From the right, Gervinho found Cazorla who instinctively let fly from 20 yards to curl beyond Taylor’s dive to double the Gunners’ lead and bring up his 12th goal of the season.

With what now resembled a nine man defence, sole striker Pavel Pogrebnyak almost threatened Fabianski’s goal, but for the perfectly timed tackle from Laurent Koscielny. Arsenal’s third came after a Reading attack was broken down by Bacary Sagna. Gervinho raced away and looked to have lost the advantage as Giroud stormed away for a pass to the left. Belatedly Gervinho fed Giroud whose low left footed drive was too good for Taylor after 67 minutes who now has 18 goals this season.

Two minutes later and Arsenal’s defence fell asleep to the dangers of a Jobi McAnuff cross which Robson-Kanu headed in. The move saw Nacho Monreal clattered into the post and needing to be replaced by Kieran Gibbs. Wenger later revealed Monreal’s injury was no more than mere bruising.

Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain then earned the penalty that Arteta slotted home for his fifth goal of the season and, also an emphatic win that keeps the Gunners’ Champions League ambitions very much alive.