Arsenal 4 – 1 Reading
After a grueling, injury filled International break, Arsenal welcomed relegation battlers Reading to the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners desperately needed three points to aid their mission for Champions League football, whilst Reading were looking to climb their way out of the relegation zone.[quote_right]”Injuries to Walcott, Wilshere and Diaby in recent weeks had diminished the quality of the squad, but Arsenal looked ready to dominate despite such setbacks.”[/quote_right]
The Gunners kicked off looking confident. Injuries to Walcott, Wilshere and Diaby in recent weeks had diminished the quality of the squad, but Arsenal looked ready to dominate despite such setbacks.
Tomas Rosicky in particular was controlling the midfield extremely well in the opening minutes, allowing Arsenal to maintain most of the possession.
Gervinho was looking lively, drifting inside from the right wing, and in the eleventh minute, the unpredictable Ivorian was rewarded for his efforts. He cut inside from the right, laying off Giroud on the edge of the box. The Frenchman eventually left the ball to Santi Cazorla, who shot the ball across goal, where Gervinho was waiting to finish off from three yards out.
Arsenal fans and players alike were feeling nervous going into this game, so Gervinho’s goal was timely one.
Typically, instead of killing the game off with a few more goals in the first half, Arsenal did exactly the opposite. Reading were looking timid and exposed, yet all Arsenal seemed to do was maintain possession and miss chances. Lots of chances.
Gervinho, Giroud & Cazorla all had their fair share, yet none of their efforts managed to hit the back of the net. Frustratingly, the half time whistle blew, ensuring that Reading cold re-start the second half with some hope.
The second half however, was much more like it. Within three minutes of kick off, an exuberant looking Arsenal side conjured up another fine goal.
Gervinho touched the ball to Santi Cazorla on the edge of the box, and the silky Spaniard beautifully side footed the ball into the bottom corner. The finish was a joy to watch, and it was exactly what Arsenal needed in the early stages of the second half. Reading were stunned.
Following his goal, Cazorla grew into the game. He dictated play brilliantly and created chances for the forwards. He was working well in conjunction with Rosicky, and Reading simply couldn’t handle him. In the sixty seventh minute, Arsenal stretched their lead further.[quote_left]”The introduction of Oxlade-Chamberlain injected some energy back into the Arsenal side.”[/quote_left]
Gervinho picked up the ball in the Arsenal half and sparked a one-man counter attack. Olivier Giroud eventually joined him, and received the ball inside the area. He drilled his shot across goal, grabbing his first league goal since January.
Unfortunately, just one minute later, Robson-Kanu earned Reading a consolation goal with an impressive diving-header, ruining Fabianski’s extremely clean sheet.
However, the introduction of Oxlade-Chamberlain injected some energy back into the Arsenal side. The Englishman used his pace and quick-feet to win a penalty, which Mikel Arteta dispatched with ease, restoring Arsenal’s three goal lead.
All in all, Arsenal looked confident and composed throughout the match, even when Reading threatened after their goal. It was a solid defensive performance, and a welcome display from Gervinho, who had a part to play in three out of the four Arsenal goals.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Didn’t have too much to do, but made good saves when necessary. His distribution was excellent yet again. Unlucky not to keep a clean sheet.
Defensively untroubled for much of the game, but didn’t do too much further up the pitch either. Delivered one or two decent crosses.
Per did his job. Read the game well and cleared up a number of crosses and through-balls. Unlucky with some offensive headers.
Laurent was yet again faultless, and made an excellent last-ditch sliding challenge on Pogrebnyak to deny him a goal. Vermaelen may struggle to re-gain his position in the side at this rate.
Much like Sagna, didn’t have much to do defensively, but failed to prevent his man at the back post from scoring. Did okay offensively. Subbed.
A relatively quiet game for Mikel. He sat back and distributed the ball well to Ramsey, Rosicky & Cazorla. Took his penalty well.
Aaron looked more comfortable today, but still managed to let simple passes become sloppy ones, especially in the final third. Unlucky not to score with a good effort late on.
Great to see Tomas starting games, and with performances like today, it will hopefully become a regular occurrence. He dictated play very well for large patches of the game, and looked quietly dangerous throughout. Should have grabbed himself a goal late on.
MOTM. From start to finish, Santi worked brilliantly alongside Rosicky to craft chances for the forwards. His quick feet are always useful, and his goal looked effortlessly beautiful.
Everybody bemoaned Gervinho starting, yet the Ivorian scored one and assisted two this afternoon. He is far from a joy to watch, but you can’t argue with those statistics. Looked dangerous and energetic throughout. Subbed.
Showed some elegant touches, and his finish was a good one. But he needs to build up his confidence and start scoring more regularly. Looked hesitant in the first half. Subbed,
Looked very dangerous as soon as he came on, and managed to win a penalty. Unfortunate not to start today, but needs to work hard and produce more consistently.
Podolski: [N/A], Gibbs: [N/A]
Ar this stage of the season, with three big players out injured, and two other benched for being terribly off-form, it’s great for morale to turn a team over at home. Reading never looked threatening, and we dominated them for huge patches of the game. However, our defensive frailty yet again reared its ugly head.
Arsenal, Tottenham & Chelsea are now battling it out for Champions League spots, and Arsenal need to produce more results and performances like today’s, if they are to reach their goal. And as I’ve discussed before, reaching this goal is paramount.
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