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Reading 2 - 5 Arsenal: match report

Arsenal completely dominated the first half, and although they looked shaky during the second half at times, they were able to put the match to bed.

Laurence Griffiths

0 - 1 Lukas Podolski 14'
0 - 2 Santi Cazorla 32'
0 - 3 Santi Cazorla 35'
0 - 4 Santi Cazorla 60'
1 - 4 Adam le Fondre 66'
2 - 4 Jimmy Kebe 71'
2 - 5 Theo Walcott 80'
Arsenal were able to put away a poor Reading side, even though the Royals made it interesting midway through the second half as Arsenal switched off. Santi Cazorla scored a hat trick, and Reading keeper Adam Federici kept it from being ridiculous, but Arsenal earned their three points today.

Lukas Podolski started up front for the Gunners, as Olivier Giroud started on the bench, still recovering from his small thigh problem. Arsenal started the brighter, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's pace causing immediate issues for Reading. Pavel Pogrebnyak, 8 minutes in, bamboozled Santi Cazorla on a 1-2, and Reading really should have scored from his cross, but their shot went wide, somehow.

Reading won a corner on 11 minutes, and Noel Hunt got his head to it, putting it over the bar by about a foot.

The game was open, and Arsenal would strike first on 14 minutes. Kieran Gibbs, for some reason, was crossing without looking from the left, but Podolski was there, and his first touch with his right was brilliant to cushion it down out of mid-air right in front of him for a first-time shot with his left from 10 yards, and he didn't miss.

1 - 0 to the Arsenal, 14 minutes in.

Arsenal were dominating, but Reading were finding some chances. 21 minutes in, Theo Walcott found himself clean through on goal, but Adam Federici was up to the task, Walcott unusually failing to finish a one-on-one.

26 minutes on, Podolski was set free up the left, his cutback cleared only to Gibbs, whose shot was blocked, before Jack Wilshere's shot was tipped wide by Federici. Pogrebnyak had a wonderful chance to find Jimmy Kebe up the other end, but his cross didn't make it past a charging-back Thomas Vermaelen.

Arsenal would continue to find a lot of room to operate on the counter, and 32 minutes in, Podolski was free up the left again. His cross found Santi Cazorla, who planted a diving header into the corner from five yards.

2 - 0 Arsenal.

Two minutes later, another cross came in from the right from Walcott, Gibbs headed it down back across goal, and Santi Cazorla trapped it, turned, and fired a bouncing shot into the back of the net.

3 - 0 Arsenal, 35 minutes.

Arsenal were now positively dominating. Wilshere got his nuts spiked by Jobi McAnuff, who earned a yellow; other than that, it was all Arsenal.

The second halzf started with Arsenal continuing their dominance, although Reading were looking slightly more alive, and indeed found more possession. But once Arsenal got hold of the ball, it was going to be a long half for Reading again. Wilshere, Ox, Podolski, and Cazorla took six touches to score in what was a lovely move, Poldi crossing from the left square to Cazorla, who buried it for his hat trick.

4 - 0 Arsenal, 60 minutes.

Arsenal looked to be under no pressure at all, but then Kieran Gibbs got careless. He passed it straight to Jay Tabb, Wilshere slipped, and Tabb found Adam le Fondre through the defense, who walked around Wojciech Szczesny and potted it on 66 minutes.

4 - 1 Arsenal.

Reading were not done. Jimmy Kebe was played onside by Lukas Podolski, who was miles behind his defense, and Kebe made no mistake on 71 minutes.

4 - 2 Arsenal.

Arsenal were looking a little shaky, Cazorla shooting on 73 minutes, Federici having to make another very good save. Aaron Ramsey replaced Ox on 74 minutes, which actually stabilized things a bit. 80 minutes on, Santi drove forward well before finding Theo, who took two steps to his left in the area, shot with his left, and buried it.

5 - 2 Arsenal.

Francis Coquelin came on for Cazorla, and a couple of minutes later, Olivier Giroud replaced Theo Walcott. Jack Wilshere would have to run out the full match, despite looking a bit worn down. Giroud had a couple of opportunities in stoppage time, but he was a little too close to Podolski for the first cross, and Federici came out to block the chip well the last time.

The final whistle came; Arsenal, not perfect, but good enough. Three points.

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