Arsene Wenger raised a few eyebrows with his Arsenal team selection against Reading. The main issues were the decision to leave Lukas Podolski and Carl Jenkinson on the bench, playing Cazorla on the left of the front three and Tomas Rosicky as the central attacking midfielder. With Walcott injured, Gervinho got the nod ahead of Oxlade-Chamberlain. Ramsey replaced the unlucky and injury prone Abou Diaby.
Arsenal settled quickly into their passing rhythm, with Rosicky, Ramsey, Cazorla and Gervinho fluently interchanging positions. There was a great tribute from the Arsenal fans to David `Rocky` Rocastle who died 12 years ago tomorrow. Wenger’s selection paid off minutes later when Gervinho started and finished a move to score his second goal in two games.
The Ivorian had a chance to double the lead after 15 minutes, getting his ample forehead onto a great Sagna cross but putting it wide. The former Gunner Stuart Taylor was in goal for Reading, but could have been sent off after completely cleaning Giroud out in the box. The referee, however, didn’t even give a foul which would have meant a penalty, which would have taken any lingering confidence out of Reading.
Gervinho was involved again as Ramsey nearly got the second after 35 minutes, producing a delicate ball to put the Welshman in on goal. That shot was blocked, closely followed by Cazorla putting his shot just wide. More chances, including a goalmouth scramble somehow failed to produce the second goal we deserved before halftime.
It took just two minutes of the second half, however. Gervinho again at the centre of things with some fancy footwork and a nice lay off to Cazorla who finished beautifully. Arsenal were comfortable and Reading were struggling to make any impression, but Koscielny had to be alert to stop a rare chance for the Royals.
I was beginning to think that Olivier Giroud had done something to upset his team mates, because nobody was passing to him despite him getting in great positions. Gervinho finally took pity on him and Giroud smashed the third goal past Taylor.
Then some poor defending let Reading get one back, with Monreal allowing Robson-Kanu to sneak in at the far post. The Spaniard hurt himself in the process and was replaced by Gibbs. Then, with 15 minutes left, Giroud and Gervinho were replaced by Podolski and the Ox. The young man made an immediate impact with a driving run into the box and he was fouled for a penalty, which Arteta coolly slotted in.
It was a comfortable win for Arsenal that keeps the pressure on Spurs, who just managed to hold on for a win at Swansea. Chelsea, though, lost to Southampton to put us just two points behind them.