Reading 2 – 5 Arsenal
Having embarrassingly crashed out of the Capital One Cup, Arsenal travelled to rock-bottom Reading attempting to secure three desperately needed points. Reading had recorded five losses in their last six league games, and Arsenal were looking to send them closer to relegation.
Arsenal needed to stamp their ailing authority onto Reading as soon as possible, and that’s exactly what they did. The Gunners began the first half confidently, keeping the ball down and playing short accurate passes. Arteta, Wilshere & Cazorla were, for once, working together nicely in the centre.
Arsene Wenger decided tonight was the night to give Theo Walcott the chance he’s been waiting years for. The Englishman started the game as our striker, and his runs off the ball were causing issues for the Reading defence. The timing of the move by Wenger is interesting, as Walcott is still locked in staunch contract negotiations with Arsenal, just weeks away from the transfer window.[quote_right]“Thankfully, the anxiousness accompanied by Kebe’s goal was in vain. In the Eightieth minute, Cazorla played in Walcott, who had made a great run, followed by an intelligent touch, capped off with a confident finish. Game over.”[/quote_right]
In the fourteenth minute, Kieran Gibbs whipped in an excellent cross, which was picked up and finished by Podolski. A quick, easy finish. However, it was just what Arsenal needed to build upon.
Podolski’s goals sparked a number of flamboyant Arsenal attacks, stretching the Reading defence. The Ox, Wilshere, Cazorla were each making incisive runs on and off the ball. Arsenal were playing some of their best football in months.
in the thirty-second minute, Podolski crossed for Cazorla, who contorted his miniature body as he perfectly executed a diving header. It was an unlikely goal, but a goal that had certainly been coming.
Just two minutes later, Cazorla bagged his second of the night, as he controlled a cross from Gibbs, turned, and smashed the ball past Federici. Arsenal were cruising with a three goal lead when the half time whistle eventually blew.
The second half began with Arsenal dominating possession yet again. Cazorla was having an excellent game, and many of our attacks were going through the Spaniard. As more chances were created, he eventually found himself open at the back post. Podolski did well to find him, and it was a simple finish for Santi. His first Arsenal Hatrick.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, it took just three minutes for Le Fondre to capitalise on some shoddy defending, allowing him to round Szczesney and tap the ball into an open net.
To make matters worse, it took just five more minutes for Kebe to add another goal. The Arsenal back line was yet again caught sleeping, and Kebe was easily able to turn and finish an easy one-on-one chance. Szczesney was furious, and Arsenal were nervous.
Thankfully, the anxiousness accompanied by Kebe’s goal was in vain. In the Eightieth minute, Cazorla played in Walcott, who had made a great run, followed by an intelligent touch, capped off with a confident finish. Game over.
The game was played out with both teams accepting the scoreline. It was a scoreline which reflected Arsenal dominance, but goals from Le Fondre & Kebe ensured that Arsenal’s defensive issues were also highlighted.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Apart from the goals, our Pole in Goal had nothing much to handle. Both goals were defensive errors, and it would be unfair to judge Szczesney on upon conceding them.
He hasn’t looked the same since his latest injury, but he made no errors. A rest might benefit him though.
Per could have done more to avert the Kebe goal, but overall he did well all game to cut out passes and block shots.
After a disappointing performance at Bradford, Vermaelen thankfully looked more solid tonight. He made a fantastic interception to stop a certain goal, along with some good last man tackles.
Attacked the Reading box impressively and got the assist for Cazorla’s second goal. However, his misplaced pass led to Reading’s first goal.
His job was to sit in front of the back four, cut out attacks and play the ball to Cazorla & Wilshere. He did that excellently.
Linked up with Cazorla effectively and led many Arsenal attacks. It’s great having Jack back, but he needs to add goalscoring to his long list of brilliant attributes.
MOTM. Santi was simply on fire tonight. Three goals and an assist are enough to earn you Man of the Match, however, Cazorla was also at the heart of most Arsenal attacks. I have been critical of his performances in recent weeks, and I’m glad he has turned his game around. I hope he can reproduce such performances against bigger clubs.
The Ox: [7/10]
He’s still young, but his positivity is contagious. Alex pulled off a good early first half shot, as well as a header pushed away by Federici. He makes intelligent and dangerous runs, and I’m hoping he’ll now be ahead of Gervinho in the pecking order.
The German’s form has dipped recently, but his performance today was fiery and confident. He picked up a goal and two assists, whilst linking up with Cazorla and Walcott throughout the game.
With contract negotiations looming, it was a big night for Theo. He was finally given the chance as a striker, and he didn’t disappoint. Despite missing a one-on-one in the first half, Theo made great runs off the ball all game, and his passing was accurate. His goal came in the eightieth minute, and he took it brilliantly.
[title]The Santi Show[/title]
Arsenal were looking for nothing more than three points today, but the excellent performance that accompanied it was just as welcome. Theo Walcott finally got his chance up front, and he did well to take his goal. Cazorla & Wilshere finally merged together constructively and created chances throughout the entire game.
Undoubtedly, Santi Cazorla showed us all just what he’s capable of. Here’s hoping he can produce similar performances again this season. This Saturday against Wigan might be a good start.
What did you think of the Reading Vs Arsenal Match? Should Theo be our first choice striker? Share your views in the comments section below.