Today’s performance was what we should’ve seen when we played Blackburn last month — a Premiership heavyweight swatting aside a Championship side with a professional, determined display. Because without wishing to be too unkind to Reading, that’s what they are really and they’ll be back there next season.
We may have made the mistake of being too casual against Blackburn, but it wasn’t repeated this afternoon as we carved open the visitors at will, taking an early lead through Gervinho. I was worried that we might ease off, thinking the game was already won (which we’ve done far too often over the last couple of seasons) but we carried on attacking and were unlucky not to go in at the break more than 1-0 up courtesy of poor finishing and poor refereeing decisions.
What pleased me most was that we picked up where we left off after halftime. On Tuesday we saw England relax far too much after a convincing first half display in Montenegro and eventually pay the price, so it was good to see Cazorla sweeping home number two on 48 minutes.
Again we pushed for more goals, and even though Giroud’s smart finish was tainted somewhat by Robson-Kanu scoring immediately for Reading, a deserved fourth arrived when Arteta converted a fortuitously awarded spot kick. Oxlade-Chamberlain was outside the area when he was tripped, but that made up for not getting a nailed-on penalty in the first half when Giroud was clattered by their keeper. 4-1, job done.
The two men of the match celebrate another Arsenal goal
For me Cazorla was Man of the Match again although Gervinho got all the plaudits from Wenger after the match. The Ivorian played well, grabbing a goal and two assists, but his finishing was poor and he really needs to produce more consistently before I’m as convinced as Wenger is that he’s a top drawer player.
At the other end of the pitch Reading scored with one of only two shots on target according to the BBC match report. It didn’t really matter today, but the way in which Monreal let his man go is a sign that not all has been fixed at the back. There are still some basic mistakes going on and better opposition will give Fabianski more to do than take a goalkick every 20 minutes.
On another note I noticed quite a few empty seats again, which I guess could be blamed on the cold weather or people going away for Easter weekend. Whatever the reasons, it’s alarming to realise this current Arsenal side isn’t the draw it once was. If people want to watch Arsenal live nowadays it’s fairly easy to get tickets as the disenchantment continues to spread amongst fans.
Still, three wins in a row since the debacle at White Hart Lane may yet remedy such disillusionment. Spurs showed that they have more character now than when dodgy ‘arry was in charge as they claimed an impressive 2-1 win at Swansea despite many people predicting they are choking again. Thankfully Chelsea thought they could get past Southampton with a weakened team and paid the price for their arrogance thus opening up a genuine three way battle for two Champions League places. Or should that be four way battle, because Everton aren’t far behind and must be included as they have Chelsea, Spurs and ourselves still to play.
I hope the players ignore all the permutations though and focus on their own fixtures. The big match next weekend may be Tottenham v Everton (here’s a place to get tickets to all matches if you fancy it) but it’s West Brom away for us. That won’t be easy as Lukaku can be a real handful, but if we are as professional and determined as we were today then we should have too much firepower for them.
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