In any other season Reading at home would be a home banker pencilled into our predictors. This season anything has been possible, so it was a great relief yesterday to see the team come out the blocks from the first whistle and not stop running until the final whistle. On top of that the team played with purpose and pace that we have only seen on brief occasions this year, and for me the most important feature of our play we pressured the ball when we didn’t have it.
Wenger named a couple of changes from the side that won away at Swansea, out went Jenkinson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Diaby and Walcott, in came Sagna, Gervinho, Ramsey and Rosicky. Many of us have felt on recent substitute appearances the latter three deserved a bit more game time. If Ramsey continues to play as he did today he will soon have silenced all of his critics, Gervinho too whilst sometimes appearing not to know what he is going to do next was lively enough and threatening enough to silence the boo boys.
It was Gervinho that gave us the lead after ten minutes, following good work on the right he continued his run into the box as the ball made its way to Santi, Santis shot was going wide but Gervinho reacted and stuck a boot on the end of it.
The rest of the half was one way traffic, Reading rarely venturing out of their own half. Whilst we were comfortable those of us watching at home were desperate for a second goal to put us in full control. That goal should have come when Olivier Giroud was brought down in the box by Taylor, it was a clumsy challenge and Giroud had already got his shot away, but how many free kicks were given yesterday for defenders after clearing the ball being clattered into by an onrush ing forward….I can count at least three on us without trying, so if that’s a free kick that should’ve been a penalty.
Just before the end of the first half a possession stat for the last 5 minutes flashed up, Arsenal 95%, could this be another one of those days?
Adkins sent Reading out with a little more purpose in the second half, but any attacking threats were quickly nullified by good defending starting from the midfield and completed by the defence.
Any hope Reading had of finding an equaliser were soon dashed, more good work around the box by Santi and Gervinho saw the ball teed up for Santi to curl beautifully into the right corner of the goal to make it 2-0. This is what Gervinho can bring with his dribbling skills, he took the ball into the 18 yard box and sucked three defenders towards him, most importantly the man marking Santi which then left him with an easy pass.
The third came 20 minutes later, Gervinho stretching his legs on the counter attack waited for Giroud to join him, just when I thought he’d held it to long he laid it to Giroud who dispatched his shot low and hard to make it 3-0.
There was a small element of foot off the gas and Reading were allowed to get one back almost immediately, the cross came in far too easily to the back stick and Robson-Kanu arrived at the back post to grab a consolation.
Gervinho was allowed to soak up some much needed applause and was replaced by Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Giroud was replaced by Podolski.
Two minutes later and Oxlade-Chamberlain read and intercepted a poor pass out of the Reading defence and just ran at them, there is something very exciting about the way this young man runs with the ball, he burst into the area and was brought down. Arteta cooly scored from the spot kick and the three goal advantage was restored.
Despite being the end of the scoring there were still things to be admired in the performance, the team continued to press Reading when they had possession, and continued to push for more goals, some of the pass and move around the box was great to watch.
We should beat Reading at home, the fact that we did and so easily suggests we may have turned the corner this season, will it be too late to achieve the 4th place trophy?
Fabianski 7 – not a lot to do, little chance with the goal, but good handling and distribution throughout.
Sagna 6 – poor for their goal, offered little going forward (although didnt really need to)
Monreal 7 – steady at full back did not need to over commit to attack an was rarely troubled at the back, injured trying to prevent their goal
Mertesacker 8 – marshalled those around him well, snuffed out any threats with ease.
Koscielny 7.5 – solid performance
Arteta – 8 professional performance in the middle of the park, kept possession ticking over and always there to pick up the pieces on second ball
Ramsey – 8.5 very strong performance from the young Welshman, deserved a goal for some of his run and passing around the box, worked tirelessly to regain possession
Cazorla – 9.5 MOTM everything good comes through the boot of our Spanish wizard, he is just simply a joy to watch play football
Rosicky – 7.5 took some time to get into the game, but provided movement and quick passing essential to our play
Gervinho – 9 two assists one goal and a constant threat to Reading, more of the same please.
Giroud – 8 provided the fulcrum for others to play off, good finish for his goal, just wish we would see him relax a bit more in front of goal, and also be brave enough to use his right peg occasionally.
Oxlade-Chamberlain – 7.5 got straight into the game am earning the penalty the young man seems to have found his confidence again.
Podolski – 7 found it difficult to get into the rhythmn of the team. Looked a bit lost when the ball was being moved one and two touch around him by Santi and others.
Gibbs – 7 nothing to do in defence supported attack well as we know he can.
Written by Gooner in Exile