The Return of the Swerve : Arsenal 4 – Reading 1

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

74 Responses to The Return of the Swerve : Arsenal 4 – Reading 1

  1. GiE – I can’t find any pics of the game yesterday, all the photographers must still be in bed. I’m not around now for a while but I’ll try and find some a bit later.

    And the answer to your question about whether we can overtake both spuds and chavs ………… of course we can ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. …….. and why would you sack a manager with 7 games to go absolute madness ……………

  3. kelsey says:

    Good report,GIE

    Has gervinho now got a free role in attack ?

    I mentioned yesterday about us scoring the most in the PL with a counter attack and the third which started from a reading corner was a typical example.
    Santi definitely excels against the lesser teams and has that most impotant ingredient, intelligence
    the OX has great pace as well and should start more often.

    I am changing my mind about mertesacker,maybe it is because he looks more comfortable on the ball and in position when playing with Kos.

  4. Hi
    Good win and points made up on Chelsea

  5. Jamietheleftback says:

    Good post, I agree but i would have rated Podolski 6 since he didn`t look good to me and I think Gervinho was joint MOTM since he is getting stronger (and not missing open goals!) but nice post,

  6. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Good morning to you all,

    That was a good, confidence boosting win, the attitude was right and the application was better.

    Having watched the two penalty incidents several times I think we were lucky to be awarded the the one for the foul on Oxlade-Chamberlain, it was outside the box, but the assault on Giroud was undoubtedly a foul and as such a penalty. Now doubt Chris Foy took a look at the video replay at half time and “evened” things up with his award for the tackle on the OX.

    Important three points, now the team must carry this form forward to the next game, away to West Brom on Saturday.

  7. Thanks for the write up GiE – it’s so much easier when we win comfortably. the midfield interplay was mesmerising at times however it must be remembered Reading are a poor side and they will disappear down the relegation trapdoor soon enough.

    Great to meet up with the usual crew yesterday and seeing Mr Syrup for the first time – what a revelation, much younger and more dashing than I thought he may be ha ha.

    Good to see a fellow Grays resident in VCC – the old place seems to have changed immeasurably since I left good old Essex.

    If anyone’s interested my ramblings on yesterdays match(complete with obligatory fuzzy long range picture) is here :

  8. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Big Al,

    First outside of the first four, ๐Ÿ™‚ Close but no cigar!

  9. Norfolk Gooner, I swear on Wenger’s zipper I was first.
    Peaches [allegedly] has her favourites, and apparently is a part-time juggler.

  10. GunnerN5 says:

    Definitely 1st from Thailand.

  11. chas says:

    Nice summary, GIE. (Wen you post early morning or middle of the night comments, I have this mental image of you feeding your baby Gooner from a pair of Gazza style breasts. It makes me laugh every time. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    On the pitch we did what was necessary and it would be churlish of anyone to ask for more. Foreheadinho and The Ram were excellent. Great stuff.

    Good to see everyone at the Tavern yesterday. Top marks for a fine turn out.

    (And thanks to chary for the PM yesterday. I read it out loud to Ant in the car on the way down and only realised it wasn’t a Raddy when you said you were going to the game! High praise indeed. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  12. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Was Big Al First? Did Peaches juggle the figures? Is there a case for video replays? Will the Monday panel consider retrospective action?

    Should we start an on-line petition? If enough of us sign it we can get it debated in Parliament.

    Failing that, what about an on-line poll? Should Big Al be first? Vote early! Vote often!

  13. GIE (et al): I guess you know there’s an addition to the huge list of sackings this season… Martin O’Neill, Sunderland.

  14. chas says:

    Big Al,
    I’m not sure of the wisdom of swearing on Wenger’s zipper.
    Surely a comment that could be misconstrued.

  15. chas says:

    By the way, thanks for the name check the other day.
    You made it sound as though I am personally responsible for lowering the tone of the blog with my tomfoolery. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. kelsey says:

    I wonder if Oโ€™Neillโ€™s wifeโ€™s illness has had an emotional effect on him.
    Only a few years ago he was being touted as the next best british manager, and now sacked twice in a comparitively short time.

  17. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All

    On flight home (via Stockholm).

    Really looking forward to watching the game on Arseplayer. Should I fast forward the first half or is it all good?

  18. GunnerN5 says:

    Firing M.O. with only 7 games left and after losing 0-1, on a own, goal to Man U who are run away league leaders is a stroke of pure insanity. But what else would one expect from the – “Stadium of the Unenlightened”

  19. The font says:

    I think a lot of people’s opinion of gervino is changing one thing he has in abundance is the ability to go past defenders like ,a knife through butter sometimes I will agree he looks like bambi on ice but his game brings another dimension and it should not be dismissed

  20. GunnerN5 says:


    Very good and very frustrating – watch it for sure.

  21. OK Chas… it’s like this : I dropped myself in the poo with kelsey, and blamed the first bloke I could think of, thereby digging myself out of said poo.And that bloke was you simply because I’ve never forgiven you as regards a certain “twitspic”.

    How you getting on with kelsey by the way? Has he forgiven you yet?

  22. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Only three clubs in the Premiership have avoided the Manager Merry-Go-Round, Man U for the obvious reason that they keep winning things. Arsenal despite not winning anything for eight seasons and Everton for heaven knows why.

    All the others have bought their ticket, jumped aboard and ridden their painted ponies round and round in circles.

    It always seems laughable to me that a club will sack it’s manager, for what must be considered incompetence, only to immediately appoint someone else who was sacked, by another club, for the same reason only few months earlier.

  23. Shame hearing about Rasp by the way…

  24. GunnerN5 says:


    Nice report, thank you.

    Given your thoughts on Giroud I understand your rating of 8, but you know that I will disagree.

    He never stops trying or looking for space and certainly does cause a bit of havoc that creates opportunities for others – but he does not possess the deftness of foot that makes a great striker.

    He does his overall job very well and has scored an acceptable 10 PL goals – but it could have, and should have, been a lot more.

    He is simply not quick enough of foot, or nimble enough in a crowded penalty box – and on most occasions we are confronted with crowded boxes.

    This is not intended to be a criticism but more of an observation.

  25. Norfolk Gooner says:


    Maybe not nimble enough in a crowded box but that finish yesterday was as good as anything from some Dutch bloke that used to wear an Arsenal Shirt. First time left foot shot across the ‘keeper. Sweet as a nut!

  26. Always good to see Arsenal winning even against a cruddy championship bound team like Reading. Its just a shame we are scrapping around looking out for the other results though. It would be completely hilarious to gain our CL spot at the expense of Chelski I have to say! ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. GunnerN5 says:


    From memory it seems that many of his goals come when he runs into the box and meets a quick pass or a cross and few, if any, from skirmishes in the box.

  28. Norfolk Gooner says:


    You could be right, so maybe he isn’t a centre forward but could play in the old fashioned number ten spot.

  29. GunnerN5 says:

    NG: Good possibility, we need his goal scoring ability but at the moment it seems that he is not being utilised to capitalize on his best assets.

  30. Hendongunner says:

    Took my five year old son ti his first ever Arsenal home game and he had fun watching the game. There were a couple mute supporters who kept on looking at my son when he was shouting Cazorla’s name. Why do people leave the game with 15 mins to go? All in all good three points for the good guys.

  31. VCC says:

    Great day yesterday seeing our boys perform well.

    Always nice to see Peaches, Rasp and Chas again at the Tavern.

    Also nice to add another face to the name…CharyBdis1966. List is growing.

    Lets keep this run going and put pressure on Spurs and Chelsea. Top four here we come.

  32. RockyLives says:

    Five is a good age to start them. I took my youngest when he’d just turned 4.

    He fell asleep on my lap. Then when we scored and everyone jumped up and cheered (including me) he woke up with a start and burst into tears.

    Ardent Gooner now though ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. RockyLives says:

    Excellent write up and ratings – I agree with all of it.

    You’re right to highlight the most significant thing: the professionalism and concentration even when we were coasting.

    We need that for the rest of the run-in.

    Spuds and Chavs?

    We all know the Spuds’ history when the pressure is on.

    And why should we fear the Chavs – last year’s sixth placed team in the EPL?

  34. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Having only just seen the game (Boy, the quality of pic is so much better on Arsenal Player than any stream), I can give a qualified opinion on your post.

    Spot on, thank you very much.

    Muttered something yesterday about whether either Gerv or Ox may emerge as unexpected heroes from he run-in. Gerv leads that race right now, but happily, I’m not ruling Ox out just yet.

    Things looking very good.

  35. MickyDidIt89 says:


    I questioned last week where Benitez’ priorities may lie, and whether that would help us. It did yesterday ๐Ÿ™‚

    Spuds will soon re-engage in the Europa, and surely that will help. I hope both go through the next rounds of their other competitions.

  36. RockyLives says:

    I duly noted your astute comment about Rafa’s priorities.

    I’m sure he will feel his CV will look better with the FA Cup of the Europe Cup than with a fourth place finish in the EPL.

  37. Jamietheleftback says:

    Rocky, I think Chavs will finish 5th actually and the best team in the world (Arsenal of course) will be 4th so Chavs will get Europa league

  38. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Let’s hope AVB is a Trophy Hunter ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Chavs 5th (and I agree) would be sweet, but sweeter still would be pipping Spuds on goal difference for 3rd.

  40. Gooner In Exile says:

    Sorry not been around to discuss, was at a Silver Wedding Affernoon Tea. Very civilised!!

    Anyway thanks for the comments….only a few disagreements on ratings must be good ๐Ÿ™‚

    Meant to say on OG that presently he reminds me of early BSR….waiting for the ball or trying to engineer it on to his left foot, when he gets the confidence to use his right even half as much as he uses his left we could be on to something.

  41. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Agree with that GiE.

    So many great front players are one footed creatures. His biggest drawback is his lack of acceleration over 5 yards, but good movement, and most importantly, great understanding between him and the three nearest him can compensate for that.

  42. Jamietheleftback says:

    Micky, Yeh We possibly could beat spuds on Goal Difference but it`ll be hard, S***ty and ManUre are outta sight but I agree

  43. Jamietheleftback says:

    Spuds Goal difference is something like 15(?)

  44. Rasp says:

    Big Al @ 12:13 “Shame hearing about Rasp by the wayโ€ฆ” ยฟquรฉ?

  45. Rasp says:

    Top match report GiE ๐Ÿ™‚

    The ‘expert’ sitting next to me at the game was holding court and slagging off Ramsey from the start. I thought he had a very good game and when I mentioned this to the gobshite next to me e said ‘yeah but he’s too slow’. I t that Cesc wasn’t the fastest and he seemed lost fr a answer.

    I was very impressed with Mertesacker, another player without blistering pace but boy, his brain certainly makes up for it.

  46. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I really don’t think it will be that hard. Win our game in hand (Everton h) and we’re one point adrift.
    The slightest of slight hiccup from them, and we’ll ease past.

  47. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Win our next four (I said the other day), and the last games will take care of themselves.
    One down, three to go. Both sides will splutter over the last three games, imo, but we will have done the damage by then.

  48. jnyc says:

    I thought rosicky looked good, i think he should be used more in jacks absence. He is still quick at his age because he hasnt played nearly enough the past couple seasons.
    i like giroud, his effort and abilities, but lacks a certain kind of quickness in and around the box. this keeps him from being good enough to score alot in this league. Partly because of his size and long legs, cant get off the quick shots, especially in crowded box. But has shown great instincts for assists around there. His goal was very well taken though. He was wide open.

  49. Jamietheleftback says:

    Actually Micky, Good point we can catch up yes we can so 3rd will be ok.

  50. Jamietheleftback says:

    JYNC I agree about Rosicky but you saw Giroud`s goal vs Brighton THAT Needed speed and movement to beat the keeper

  51. Tomthegoalie says:

    I agree Jamie bro

  52. Gooner In Exile says:

    Rasp speed of thought is just as important as speed of foot.

    Cesc was one of those players that made himself time, Zidane another in that mould. Even though I hate him Teddy Sheringham was probably the epitome of a slow player with a quick brain, as was the more liked Matt Le Tissier.

    Le Tissier was asked about his coolness of finish and he said “you’ve always got half a second more than you think”. Giroud and Gerv could both learn from that mantra. As could Theo probably.

  53. Gooner In Exile says:

    Wow Sunderland did have someone lined up….Di Canio, that’s a case of doing it now before West Ham bagged him in the summer when they let Allardyce leave. Or at least that’s what Di Canio’s agent told Sunderland ๐Ÿ˜€

  54. SharkeySuresGhost says:

    Quality write up GiE.

    Another candlelight special..??

    Yep fulcrums exactly right re Giroud. As much as I believe he suits us, I’m now not so sure he has changed his game for us or to suit us. Last season for MonP he bagged a hatful of assists, and I start to think that was a big factor in signing him along with his goals.

  55. Gooner In Exile says:

    Sharkey it was a bit of a late night start early morning finish.

    Re Giroud I think it’s a similar thing that Chamakh brought to the table, but I think Giroud is physically better built for the EPL, and doesn’t mind getting his body where it hurts.

  56. sai says:

    Love the heading GIE. Despite lacking sharpness in front of Goal, Gervinho was toying with the defenders with his runs. Reminds me of a Bunny toothed traitor who joined the blue outfit of Manchester! He was good at dodging defenders.

    What Gervinho needs to do is improve his final pass. instead of focussing on shooting the ball, he should try using his piercing runs to feed it to a better finisher. Was thankful he got a deflection of Santi’s shot for the first goal and ever more so that it ended up into the back of the net!

    Their defenders were gifting us possession and hardly put any pressure on us. Having said that, if we could play this kind of Football we are so used to seeing with our team, we can beat any team in the Planet on their peak (Hope I’m not getting carried away).

  57. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All

    Watched the game yesterday and what a delight it was. Some of the passing was top notch.

    Ramsey was very good, but I would like him to have more faith in his abilities. He seems to just put his head down and get on with the job – some Santi-swagger is needed.

    Cazorla. What a signing!

  58. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Good to have you back Raddy.

    Fine win indeed, although I’m very happy with the new teamwork between Arteta and Ramsey.

    A solid understanding forming very nicely, so less of the Messi advice to Rambo, thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  59. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Love the optimism Sai ๐Ÿ™‚

    Gerv attracts defenders and that makes space for others.

    Talking of his final pass, I doubt there was a single blogger here not thinking he had held the ball too long the other day as Ollie made his charge.

  60. kelsey says:

    Morning all

    Yes you are right Micky.

    Oh you only beat Reading I see written over the blogworld,well United only beat them 1-0 with a deflected goal last week and is this not the same team we were 4-0 down to and beat 7-5.

    I must make this point about Di Canio,a self confessed fascist is appointed at Sunderland with boards round every ground to kick racism out of football.

  61. Big Raddy says:

    Thanks Micky.

    I suppose the team need a water carrier and Ramsey is that man.

    Each time I watch OG’s goal I think Gerv has over-run the ball. Nice finish from the Big Man.

  62. kelsey says:

    Watched the game again and I think many fans are trying to compare Giroud with the fantastic season RVP had. Giroud is extremely left footed,but is a good header of a ball and his one two play and assists are counting.My problem is that Podolski is also primarily left footed and can we play the two together ? AW thinks not.

  63. Big Raddy says:

    kelsey. Agree about Di Canio, but he should add some entertainment to the PL (for a short time before he is sacked)

  64. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Hi Kelsey,

    I’ve always felt its an either/or with Giroud and Podolski as CF, and a good option it is, so I’d agree with you and AW ๐Ÿ™‚

    All season I’ve argued the case for Gerv (in the face of some fierce, and at times reasonable opposition, but I like my wide boys to have some speed and some takerer-onner ability.

  65. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Changing the subject for a moment.

    There were quite a few empty seats at the Reading game, and although I didn’t look at the exchange for that game, I was on the site yesterday to get a ticket for Norwich and there cannot have been more that a dozen tickets available.

    I know Rasp has mentioned before that the club need to find a better system for last minute cancellations, and he’s right. The Exchange closes 24 hrs before a game, ruling out that possibility.

  66. Gooner In Exile says:

    Micky the problem with the Exchange is two fold – one it only activates once all seats are sold out (the gods are normally last to go). Secondly selfish ST holders who can’t be arsed or probably more likely STs in the hands of touts, with more games not selling out and the very good ArsenalTickets on twitter reallocating seats at FV touts are not necessary anymore.

    Would like to see the club re consider pricing in upper tier the Gods should be treated like the back of the Upper Circle in a theatre and be ยฃ10, the front off upper tier could probably go up a notch or two to compensate.

    Kelsey agree wholeheartedly re Di Canio and pleased to see David Milliband sticking to principles and stepping down.

  67. I’m back home today.
    Chill out I have a post for tomorrow
    Catch u soon long drive home for sheep and knuckles and the wife’s
    U will like my post .
    Ps come on the Chavs

  68. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Good points GiE,

    Re the selfish ST Holders. What can they do if they decide less than 24hrs before KO they aren’t going?

    As Rasp mentioned, surely in this electronic age, a simple text system could be set up.

  69. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Oooo, good point Sheep. I’d forgotten about the FAC game. Indeed, hope Chavs win.

    Actually, as it hurts to say that, I’ll re-phrase: hope Utd lose. Better ๐Ÿ™‚

  70. Gooner In Exile says:

    Micky it’s hard to believe that many decided in the last 24hours, what was interesting was as the game reached its conclusion so many in lower tier head for exits with 5-10 minutes to go, yet they cut to a shot of Adkins on my screen which was from low in the tunnel and up towards the upper tier, if say it was still 80-90% full whereas the lower tier opposite the tunnel was probably 50-60% full…..I just don’t get it…..never will.

  71. Morning all

    New Post …………………………

  72. RASP…
    Yesterday : “Shame hearing about Rasp by the wayโ€ฆ”

    Until you turned up and queried my post, nine individuals ignored it.
    Here’s the list of your so-called mates who couldn’t give a sick rat’s ar*e about you :
    Gunner N5, Norfolk Gunner, brooklynbaby, Hendongunner, VCC, RockyLives, MickyDidIt89, Jamietheleftback, Gooner In Exile.
    There… name and shame ’em, that’s my motto!

    Because nobody seemed in the least concerned about you, my joke was ruined. Here’s the joke :
    Big Al : “Shame hearing about Rasp by the wayโ€ฆ”
    Non-existent mate : “Oh no, what’s wrong… not an accident?…”
    Big Al : “Apparently, according to Jonathan, he’s got widgets!”

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