Premier League: Arsenal 4 Reading 1
By Football News
Arsenal boosted their Champions League qualification hopes with a comfortable 4-1 win over relegation-threatened Reading on Saturday.
New Reading manager Nigel Adkins saw his side outplayed at the Emirates Stadium, where goals from Gervinho, Santiago Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and Mikel Arteta secured all three points for the hosts.
Hal Robson-Kanu headed home a consolation strike for the visitors mid-way through the second half.
Arsene Wenger made four changes to the side that defeated Swansea City last time out, with Bacary Sagna, Aaron Ramsey, Gervinho and Tomas Rosicky coming into the starting XI, while Adkins brought Danny Guthrie into a five-man midfield and handed Pavel Pogrebnyak a start in a lone striking role.
The home side started the game brightly and it came as little surprise when they opened the scoring after just 10 minutes, Gervinho tapping home from close range.
The Ivory Coast international started the move by driving toward the penalty area from the right wing before the ball eventually found its way to Cazorla on the left.
His driven cross was stroked home from the edge of the six-yard box by the unmarked Gervinho.
The home side should have been given the chance to double their lead from the penalty spot eight minutes later when Reading goalkeeper Stuart Taylor clattered into Giroud.
Referee Chris Foy was unmoved, much to the bemusement of the majority of the Emirates Stadium crowd.
These two sides had scored a combined 19 goals in their two previous meetings this season, and a high-scoring affair looked likely again as the Gunners piled the pressure on their visitors, but despite creating numerous chances throughout the first half, they were unable to extend their one-goal advantage.
Just two minutes into the second half, however, Arsenal did finally manage to double their lead, Cazorla neatly stroking home from the edge of the penalty area.
Gervinho was involved once again, with the Ivorian taking on several defenders just inside the box before looking up and picking out the unmarked Spaniard, who calmly curled an effort just inside Taylor's post.
Arsenal continued to dominate the visitors, but it was the Royals who almost grabbed an unlikely route back into the game on the hour mark through Alex Pearce.
The big defender had made his way forward for a corner and reacted quickest when the ball landed in the area, but his powerful half-volley was well saved by Lukasz Fabianski.
Six minutes later Arsenal appeared to have killed off Adkins' men when Giroud slotted home a Gervinho through-ball from the edge of the six-yard box to make it 3-1.
Within 60 seconds of that strike, Reading might have sensed another of their fabled comebacks was on the cards when Robson-Kanu bravely threw himself at a Jobi McAnuff cross to head home at the far post.
An improbable fightback failed to materialise though.
The Gunners were awarded a penalty 10 minutes from time when Adrian Mariappa fouled substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, with Arteta stepping up to hammer the penalty into the corner of the net and seal the routine victory.