Chelsea’s loss was Arsenal’s gain on Saturday March 30. The Gunners didn’t really break a sweat while disposing of an uninterested Reading side 4-1 at home while Rafael Benitez led his men to another loss, this one a 2-1 defeat down on the south coast at Southampton. Spurs managed to beat Swansea 2-1 to sneak past Chelsea into third spot by two points point and Benitez’s men slipped into the all-important fourth position in the table.
Arsenal’s win gives them 53 points and places them just two behind Chelsea now for the fourth and final Champions League spot and they’re still a pair of points ahead of Everton who beat Stoke 1-0 at home at Goodison Park. Hopefully Arsene Wenger’s squad won’t get complacent after this win though, which was really a waltz in the park over a surprisingly ineffective Reading team that’s trying to fight off relegation. Arsenal should prepare themselves for some much stiffer tests from now until the end of the season.
Arsenal was without several injured players for the match, such as Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, and Abou Diaby. Fortunately, their skills weren’t missed as Gervinho opened the scoring in the 11th minute on a nice play in the penalty area. The ball went from Gervinho to Cazorla and then back to Gervinho who roofed it into the net from in close. The Gunners created several more chances in the opening 45 minutes, but weren’t able to capitalize on any of them.
Once the second half kicked off though it didn’t take them long to double the lead with Santi Cazorla taking a pass from Gervinho in the 48th minute and curling the ball around a defender and inside the post. It was the Spaniard’s 12th league goal of the campaign, which now moves him past Walcott for the team’s scoring lead. Gervinho then set up Olivier Giroud after 67 minutes when he passed the ball to the left and the Frenchman slammed a low hard shot across the diving keeper and into the corner of the net.
Reading got on the scoreboard just a minute later when Jobi McAnuff put in a cross from the left side of the pitch which sailed over the heads of all Arsenal’s defenders. Reading’s Robson-Kanu was on the end of it and headed it into the net. Left back Nacho Monreal collided with the post on the play and had to be taken off and replaced by Kieran Gibbs.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was brought on in the 75th minute for Gervinho, was chopped down at the edge of the penalty area while on an energetic run and Arsenal was awarded a penalty kick. Mikel Arteta fired it low into the bottom corner to the right of the keeper. It was the Gunners sixth victory in their past eight league outings and the three-goal margin of victory could be crucial if the third and forth sports come down to goal difference.
Arsenal Player Ratings March 30 vs Reading
Lukasz Fabianski 6.5
The Polish keeper didn’t have to do much at all other than grab the ball out of the net after Reading’s goal. He couldn’t really be faulted on it though as the marking was poor. He might have made a save in the 90 minutes somewhere.
Bacary Sagna 6.5
Sagna’s first game back from a spell on the sidelines was pretty good. He and the other defenders were rarely challenged all game long.
Per Mertesacker 6.5
He had a decent match and was steady when needed.
Laurent Koscielny 6.5
Koscielny came through with a timely tackle on Pavel Pogrebnyak which may have prevented a goal. Was unspectacular, but did his job well.
Nacho Monreal 6
Monreal didn’t stand out and he struggled with Reading’s goal scorer, Hal Robson-Kanu, as he headed the ball past Fabianski and into the net. Unfortunately, he was injured on the play and had to come off in the 71st minute and was replaced by Kieran Gibbs.
Mikel Arteta 7.5
Arteta played a fine game and his passing was right on. He calmly buried the penalty for the Gunners fourth and final goal.
Aaron Ramsey 7
On the whole, Ramsey played well and put good pressure on Reading’s ball carriers. Nothing to complain about here.
Tomas Rosicky 7
Rosicky played well in the midfield with Ramsey and Cazorla. He did a solid and energetic job as he usually does when called upon.
Gervinho probably had one of his best games as a Gunner by scoring the opener and setting up two others. However, he still seems to blow glorious chances. He produced on the scoreboard though and that’s what counted today. Made way for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after 75 minutes.
Santi Cazorla 8.5
Cazorla became Arsenal’s leading Premier League scorer this season with his 12th goal, which he calmly deposited into the lower corner of the net from the edge of the 18-yard box in the second half. He was a threat all game long and probably the best Gunner on the pitch, just ahead of Gervinho, who set him up for the goal.
Olivier Giroud 7
Giroud played one of his more effective games and kept in touch well with the midfield. Scored a nice low left-footed shot into the corner of the net after being set up by Gervinho. Was subbed for Lukas Podolski after 76 minutes.
Kieran Gibbs 6
Came on after 71 minutes for Monreal and did just fine.
Lukas Podolski 6
Came on after 76 minutes for Giroud. He was used as a central striker, but unfortunately the ball didn’t come his way too often.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 7
Came on for after 75 minutes for Gervinho. He had a spring in his step and probably should have started the game considering his excellent confidence-boosting performance for England against San Marino just over a week ago. He was brought down for the penalty which led to the fourth goal.