Arsenal 2 Reading 0
Oxlade-Chamberlain 33, 78

Two-time winners Arsenal cruised into the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup with an easy victory over Reading courtesy of a double strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Arsene Wenger’s men were in dominant mood in an enjoyable first half and should have been way ahead of their opponents had they converted the chances that had come their way. However, once they had their noses in front, the result never looked in doubt as they go into the final eight of the competition for the first time since 2012/13.

The Gunners boss paid tribute to his 23-year-old winger, as well as Theo Walcott, despite him not being required iin a much-changed Gunners’ line-up. Wenger believes the pair are bringing the best out of one another.

“Sometimes before you felt (Oxlade-Chamberlain ) acted like he didn’t deserve to score in front of goal,” said Wenger, of the player, who has scored five goals this season. “Now you have hope whenever he has the ball that something can happen. He is powerful and finishes well.

“He worked very hard in training and is following Walcott, on the same trajectory. They’re lifting each other but they can play on both flanks as well.”

From the beginning of the match, Arsenal’s younthful line-up looked comfortable against their visitors from the Championship, with Reading offering little in return in a poor first half for the Berkshire side.

Before Arsenal took the lead on 33 minutes, full-back Carl Jenkinson, making his first start for the Gunners since 2014, had nearly put his side ahead with a firm shot from within the penalty area. Reading goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi, who would pull off a series of key saves in the second half, kept out the effort with a fine stop.

As well as Jenkinson, Wenger gave starts to a number of youngsters. He was praiseworthy of Jenkinson and also how his young squad players had performed.

“It’s fantastic to see Carl back,” he said. “He did well and had no fitness problems at all, which shows that he prepared well.

“I felt Rob (Holding) did well, Ainsley (Maitland-Niles)played some nice passes and Jeff (Reine-Adelaide) had a good game, too.”

As the half wore on, Arsenal’s players continued to test their opponents’ back-line with a series of goal-scoring opportunities through Alex Iwobi, Mohamed Elneny and Oxlade-Chamberlain. It was only a matter of time before Arsenal made the breakthrough.

Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first half performance was particularly noteworthy. The England winger was involved in much of Arsenal’s forays into the opposition half of the pitch.

Meanwhile, Reading boss Jaap Stam could only watch on from his technical area as his side struggled against their far superior hosts. He reacted with frustration as his forward players failed to trouble Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez when chances did come their way.

The breakthrough for the home side came courtesy of an error from Al-Habsi, who put his defence under pressure with a needless pass. The ball fell to the impressive Oxlade-Chamberlain, who surged into the penalty area before firing a low shot through marker Tyler Blackett’s legs and beyond the dive of Al-Habsi. It was a deserved lead for the Gunners, and reward for the player, whose display had been of the highest order.

The last time these teams played, in the same competition in 2012, Arsenal memorably romped home 7-5, but only after Reading had taken a four-goal lead before the interval. However, this time around there would be no danger of that for the home side. Reading showed little improvement after the break, and it seemed as if would only be a matter of time before Arsenal added to the scoreline.

The home side needed to remain cautious that, with only a one-goal margin, they were susceptible to the attack from Reading. Substitute Yann Kermorgant nearly pulled his side level on 61 minutes, but his powerful header saw Martinez leap magnificently to claim the goalbound shot.

Subsitute Olivier Giroud, brought on in a bid to secure the victory, almost made an instant impact when he met Elneny’s free-kick with a thumping header. However, Al-Habsi denied the French international striker with a stunning flying save. Moments later, the Omani goalkeeper pulled off another stop to keep out Oxlade-Chamberlain.

However, the victory was secured on 78 minutes when his powerful shot from outside the penalty area flew beyond the diving Al-Habsi.

Arsenal are now unbeaten in their last 13 games and will look to better that sequence when they travel to Sunderland on Saturday looking to maintain their good form in all competitions this season.