x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Arsenal get back to winning ways with 5-2 victory at Reading

Arsene Wenger claimed his side had answered their recent critics after Santi Cazorla's hat-trick fired them to a comprehensive win over English Prmier League strugglers Reading.

Arsenal's Santi Cazorla celebrates scoring against Reading.
Arsenal's Santi Cazorla celebrates scoring against Reading.

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal answered their critics after a Santi Cazorla hat-trick helped his side sweep past bottom of the table Reading.

Criticism of Wenger had been mounting in recent weeks, particularly after last week's shock English League Cup defeat to lowly Bradford.

But Arsenal showed they had put the disappointment of that result behind them after surging to a 3-0 half-time lead at the Madejski Stadium to move within two points of fourth-placed Tottenham.

"There could only be one answer and that was on the football pitch," said Wenger afterwards.

"Success came with the quality of our game. We focused on the quality of our game and played.

"Our ambition is to finish as high as we can and win our next game, that is all we can do. We have to focus on the quality of our football.

"We have games based on movement and technical quality and that demands freedom of initiative and when you are in a crisis that suffers sometimes, but we have to go beyond that and focus on the way we play football."

When pressed on the recent harsh criticism of Arsenal, Wenger added: "It depends on what you mean by a crisis. If you call being slaughtered by everybody then we were in a super crisis!

"In our job you need to be mentally strong. It is a test when you have been in a position like we were in.

"In the championship our run is not so bad recently.

"We lost just one of the last six, but because we had not won them and were starting in the middle, no win becomes highlighted.

"This run is not fantastic, but not disastrous."

Arsenal opened the scoring in the 14th minute, after Kieran Gibbs' run down the left ended with a clipped ball to Lukas Podolski, who beat two defenders before blasting home.

Podolski turned provider for the second, just after the half-hour mark, chipping the ball into the six-yard box where Cazorla headed past Adam Federici in the Reading goal. Three minutes later, Arsenal went 3-0 up after Cazorla turned on a Gibbs header to hook the ball into the bottom corner.

The Reading defence was breached again on the hour mark as Cazorla grabbed his hat-trick, drilling the ball in at the far post after Jack Wilshere had released Podolski down the left.

The home fans at least had something to cheer on 66 minutes when Adam Le Fondre pulled a goal back, put through by Jay Tabb and rounding Wojciech Szczesny to score.

Reading closed further with 20 minutes left when Jimmy Kebe slotted home after beating the offside trap from a pass by Hal Robson-Kanu. Hopes of a remarkable comeback were, however, dashed with 10 minutes left when Walcott was released into the right side of the penalty area by Cazorla, and the midfielder stepped back inside before slotting a curling effort into the far corner.

QPR's win on Saturday left Reading rooted to the foot of the table and facing an uphill battle to fight their way clear of danger.

"We came up against a side who were at the top their game, but we changed the shape in the second half and I thought we were better," said Brian McDermott, the Reading manager.

"We got ourselves a couple of goals and I think if we had got a third something could have happened.

"I thought there was a little bit of an edge that crept into their game, but obviously the fifth goal meant it was done and dusted."

McDermott, however, accepts his side have plenty of hard work ahead if they are to avoid a swift exit from the top flight.

"The hardest thing to do is score goals, but we have to make sure we stop conceding," he said.

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