Arsenal v Reading: Match Review


Posted on March 31st, by batmandela in Barclays Premier League, Guest Post, Match Report. No Comments

It gives me great pleasure to present an Arsenal vs Reading Match Report, brought to you by guest blogger and top Gooner, James. You may know him on Twitter as @JamesArsenal1 – yup! – he's the Quizmaster-General! A legend in his own lunchtime. Be sure to follow him on Twitter, as his regular quiz questions stump the most knowledgeable Arsenal aficionados.

Over to you, James!

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Arsenal vs Reading

Emirates Stadium, March 30th, 2013

A clinical, and at times majestic, performance from Arsenal increased the pressure on our London rivals as the battle for the top four heats up. As expected – it turned out to be a fairly routine win, which is now our 5th in 6 league games. The team played with great fluidity and confidence, which was especially promising given the absence of key personnel.

Gervinho opened the scoring after just 11 minutes when he poked in Cazorla’s cross. It was a chance not too dissimilar to the infamous ‘Bradford miss’ and so it was therefore a relief to see him finish. Arsenal continued to relentlessly press Reading, catching their defence on the ball on multiple occasions. Reading provided very little going forward with lone striker Pogrebnyak causing no problems for Koscielny and Mertesacker. However going into half time for all Arsenal’s efforts the score still remained 1-0.

Interceptions

Relentless first half pressing.

If the first half was spent trying to complete the perfect goal, then it took just 3 minutes of the second half to achieve it. The move started from the back and, 18 passes later, the ball came to Cazorla. Santi calmly, classily finessed it into the net to put the result beyond doubt. Finally this seemed to spark Reading into life. They showed a bit of promise going forward but nothing that could threaten the seemingly resolute defence.

Then, from a poorly worked Reading corner, Gervinho found himself alone on the break. Driving forward, he pulled three Reading defenders with him – allowing space for Giroud. He made no mistake with the pass, and Giroud clinically finished. This was his first league goal since January.

If there was to be one blemish on the performance it would be the lack of a clean sheet. McAnuff did well to beat Sagna and get his cross in, but it should not have proven a challenge. Monreal was caught ball watching and sleeping on the back post, and Robson-Kanu was allowed to sneak in to poke the ball into the net.

Still – this did not seem to ignite Reading’s interest in the game, and Arsenal continued to surge forward. The introduction of Oxlade-Chamberlain proved to be fruitful as his powerful run could only be stopped by Adrian Mariappa’s foul. While replays suggest it may have been just outside the box, it could be seen as justice for a clear penalty shout denied on Giroud in the first half. Arteta stepped up and nonchalantly placed it in to put the seal on the win.

Passes

Like a child's colouring book, Arsenal dominated possession.

Despite the convincing look of the 4-1 score line, it still does not go far enough to show our dominance of the match. In total we produced 23 shots and a dominant 70% possession. However our enemy was, at times, our own profligacy rather than the Reading defence – as we indulged ourselves in sometimes excessive passing in pursuit of that famed ‘perfect goal’.

There were a number of performances to be pleased with. Firstly, Cazorla, who was allowed to roam across the midfield throughout the match, was peerless. He led the way for Arsenal, dictating the match while constantly finding holes in the Reading defence.

What was also pleasing to see was Gervinho getting his confidence back with a goal. He has been a much maligned figure for the previous months, but with a goal and two assists he appeared to be back. Still – his finishing frustratingly seemed to be lacking on occasions, but I am sure this will come with confidence. One issue that I did have with him yesterday was his lack of drive going forward. He is a very quick player, said to be the fastest in the Ivory Coast team, and has good skill. However, too often he seems to be running as if through a set of training ladders. If he ran directly at defenders with speed and power while backing his ability, I am sure he would find more results. A perfect example of how it should be done was Chamberlain: when he came on he was not afraid to run directly at defenders with speed and power, which drew the foul and the penalty.

Ladders

Lose the ladders, Gervinho!


In conclusion it was a brilliant performance, although no more than expected. With Chelsea dropping points it is important that we keep this run going in our pursuit of a top four finish. There won’t be any more matches anywhere near as easy as this one, and so it is vital that we do not let our guard down.

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Thanks, James. Looking forward to the next one.

Follow James on Twitter: @JamesArsenal1

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