Arsenal – Reading
1 – 0 Gervinho (10)
2 – 0 Cazorla (47)
3 – 0 Giroud (67)
3 – 1 Robson – Kanu (68)
4 – 1 Arteta (76 pen)
At least the supporters got it right.
Arsenal reduced the gap to fourth place as Chelsea’s implosion continued unabated. Just two points separate the teams as Arsenal’s thoroughly professional performance continued the good form shown before the international break. Reading came with little hope and left rooted to the bottom of the table. Nigel Adkins, it seems, is lined up for a quick promotion challenge next season. For London clubs, the Champions League Hurdles is in full cry as the season comes around the final bend.
In matches such as these, frustration can set in quickly if early chances are spurned. Arsenal stopped that happening as Cazorla dragged the ball across the Reading area for Gervinho to slam the ball into the net, burying a chance that he has readily missed previously. Confidence since returning from the African Cup of Nation is not a problem for the Ivorian at the moment, unlike last season. The remainder of the half was a procession of missed chances, Arsenal denied by wayward finishing and last ditch defending.
Gervinho led the parade, beginning with a header past the post. Giroud was denied a penalty as he was clattered by Taylor, presumably not given as the French forward had wafted the ball upwards before being totalled by the visitors goalkeeper. Giroud and Gervinho both tried again and both failed to trouble the scoreboard. In fact this duo was tormenting the visiting defence without unlocking them whilst Santi Cazorla tried his luck and found it was out as well.
The first half ended with Reading failing to muster a shot worthy of the name; Arsenal having eleven. Having weathered the storm, Reading came out for the second half and found themselves two down with as many minutes gone, Santi Cazorla finding the back of the net with a curling shot into the bottom corner. Once more the visitors were forced onto the back foot as Ramsey came closest to adding a third.
The third eventually came as the maligned Sagna and Gervinho combined to create an opening for Giroud, one gratefully crashed home. Joy was short-lived, or at least muted, as Monreal won the race to slide into the post. A shame Robson-Kanu was chasing a cross instead, sliding the ball home at the far post. Two goals in as many minutes still left Arsenal with a two-goal advantage. Kieran Gibbs replaced the Spaniard who educated a number of youngsters in the crowd in the laws of physics regarding stopping distances for sliding objects; speed = distance over something or other. Biology also came into it, pain = sliding human body plus woodwork.
As it was Oxlade-Chamberlain was the impact substitute, brought down as he drove into the Reading area, Arteta coolly sending the resultant penalty into the bottom corner. Arsenal did not ease off as the Gibbs, Mertesacker and Ramsey all tried to add to the tally, failing but in the end it did not matter as the match had been won at a canter.
The manager observed he enjoyed the match, something of a familiar feeling over the past few games. The Premier League run has been overshadowed by the insipid exit from the FA Cup and the poor first leg performance against Bayern. As it is, one defeat in eight games, six of which have been won is second only to Manchester United in the form table. It highlights the damage done to the campaign by the Autumnal collapse in form.
The mood was further lightened this morning with Steve Stammers claim that Arsenal are going to sign the key personnel from Borussia Dortmund for £70m. For another £30m, KSE could probably buy the club which seems better business sense. If that doesn’t work, Jonathan Williams from Crystal Palace is going to be Arsène’s duty free gift from his holidays although I am not too sure that South London is going to be high on Madame Wenger’s destination list. Of course, transfer gossip wouldn’t be transfer gossip if there wasn’t a French Connection and whilst Gene Hackman might add some steel to defence, I am not sure his tactic of finding out if the attacker has picked his toes in Poughkeepsie is going to be that successful. Arsène’s back-up plan is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from St Etienne whom seems more in tune with the best line of defence being attack.