Arsenal picked up where they left off and dominated Reading from start to end. A combination of last ditch defending and some poor final touches meant that the scoreline of 4-1 was rather kind to Reading. There was concern that the interlull would slow the momentum that the Gunners had but that was put to bed with Gervinho, Cazorla, Giroud and Arteta netting in a very one sided affair.
After the dreaded but rather expected midweek announcement of another long injury lay off for Diaby, Wenger fielded a midfield trio of Arteta, Ramsey and Rosicky. Gervinho took the right flank with Giroud upfront supported on the left by Cazorla. In short, the same team played besides the introduction of Rosicky and Gervinho for the injured Diaby and Walcott. Cazorla’s spot on the left has been somewhat of a constant ever since Podolski fell injured midway through the season. There are some fitness concerns about the German as well, with Poldi barely finishing a full 90 minutes for the Gunners.
Arsenal were in the ascendency from start to end. This must be one of the most straight forward match reactions to write. Reading offered little resistance and they had multiple blocks to thank for keeping the score at 1-0 in the first half. With 15 shots and 9 on target, it was rather surprising that the first half ended with only a goal to show for it. Reading in contrast only registered a single off target shot. The proportion of possession stood at 75-25, rising at times to 95-5.
The second half started off in the same manner and Cazorla registered his 12th league goal of his first season in England with a sweet curler outside the box. The low drive swerved right into the bottom right corner leaving the ‘keeper with no chance. Cazorla is now Arsenal’s top league scorer with Walcott (11) and Giroud (10) behind him. To be fair, Cazorla (29) has started many more games than Theo (18) and Olivier (20). Nonetheless, the Spaniard has enjoyed his most successful season in terms of goals scored and assists provided. He is without doubt our best buy of the season.
Cazorla is without doubt our best buy of the season.
Giroud made it 3-0 after a quick break from a poorly taken Reading corner. How sweet that must have been for the fans. Previously, I had written how Arsenal must be the only team where fans fear having corners being awarded to them as we conceded quite a few from counter attacks This time Gervinho sprinted down the right and provided an assist as Giroud finished low and hard across the goal from the tight angle. It wasn’t a straightforward finish and I was half surprised that he netted. Giroud’s shooting has been sub par this season. His goal brought him into double digits in the league with a total of 16 for the club. Encouraging for a new player coming from the French league.
The last few matches had given us a taste of a solid defence with clean sheets away against Bayern Munich and Swansea. Fabianski’s run ended when Monreal failed to cope with a great cross from the right that saw Robson-Kanu squeeze in a consolation at the bottom right corner. It was a little harsh for the Fabianski especially since he had kept focused (something that WS1 could not do in ‘small’ matches) and had pulled off two good saves prior. Monreal should have done better, he tracked his man but didn’t position himself well. Worse still, in his attempt to prevent the goal, Monreal smashed his knee into the post and had to be substituted. Gibbs came on and was lively, finishing the game without incident.
The game came to an end when Arsenal were finally awarded a penalty after having two previous clear cut cases turned down. The Ox was brought down in the box after skipping his marker and Arteta smashed it into the bottom left. The game had been over for quite a while and Arteta didn’t even bother to celebrate. He raised his arms at the spot and then walked back to the centre circle. The game was over long ago.
Gervinho put in a great shift today. We rarely see the Ivorian put in a classy performance for Arsenal even though he seems to do this consistently for Ivory Coast. Gervinho was everywhere on the pitch, creating chances, connecting passes and making runs. One of his many runs yielded him a tap in after Cazorla swung in a low cross. He continued his runs that yielded even more chances, causing havoc in the box. Reading just couldn’t cope with his pace and trickery.
It was a top performance and he left the pitch to a deserved standing ovation.
The measure of his effectiveness can be seen in his involvement in the second and third goal. He provided both assists for Cazorla and Giroud. It was a top performance and he left the pitch to a deserved standing ovation. More of this please, Forehead.
This was yet another poor performance. He is not biased even though he failed to award two clear cut penalties before the third. He is just slow and indecisive. Both Arsenal and Reading were let down by some of the decisions he made today. Even though his incompetency did not affect the match, this is not the first time I have seen poor refereeing from Foy.
He is just slow and indecisive.
Foy also put in a glaringly poor shift when Arsenal played Stoke. He failed to control players from both sides which led to a nasty end earlier this year. This guy is not biased, he just has to buck up, be quicker with his decisions and stamp his authority on the pitch. Refereeing is a difficult job but he erred too many times on the side of caution which led to a really indecisive performance.
It was good to see the team communicating. Ramsey was vocal, barking at his team mates together with Arteta. Theo mentioned after the Swansea match that the team is finally communicating. It showed today. There were no puzzled faces and play was smooth with few misunderstandings. While one may argue that Reading was showing why it was on the path to relegation, we have played poorly against ‘weak’ teams earlier this season because players were just keeping quiet and doing their own things. Hopefully, the team has finally gelled.
With 8 games to go, Arsenal are still in a good position to finish third or fourth. Chelsea lost at Southampton while Tottenham won. This meant that the gap between 3rd and 5th is only 2 points if Arsenal and Chelsea win their games in hand. Arsenal has an easier run in and Chelsea and Tottenham will still have to play each other. If Arsenal can continue its current consistent form (5 wins out of 6 last league games), our fate should be well within our hands.
But this is Arsenal, and you can never be too sure about anything. West Brom away is next and we have to keep on picking up all 3 points. It’s going to be a tight finish. The roller coaster ride continues.
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