Reading FC Match Report: 2012/2013 Season - Premier League


Reading: A Le Fondre (66 mins), J Kebe (71 mins).
Arsenal: L Podolski (14 mins), S Cazorla (32 mins), S Cazorla (34 mins), S Cazorla (60 mins), T Walcott (80 mins).

There was a disturbing inevitability about the outcome of this match which anchors the Royals firmly to the foot of the table. The Gunners even outshone the home side in the warm-up. The contest was over from the point when the defensive vulnerability of Kebe and Cummings was exposed in the fourteenth minute when a cross from their flank was brilliantly controlled and tucked away by Podolski. Two more goals from Cazorla before half time left Reading looking demoralised with nothing to play for but pride. Credit should be given to the team and the manger for not capitulating and thus avoid utter humiliation. Reading did their best but it was never going to be good enough.

As early as the first minute Federici was tested by a swift Arsenal attack and made an excellent save low to his right from Oxelade-Chamberlain. Reading started brightly and briefly threatened the Arsenal goal. A sharp exchange of passes with Cummings sent Pogrebnyak clear on the right and the Russian striker run closed in on goal. Confronted with a clear sight of goal, admittedly from a tight angle, lacked the confidence to go for goal choosing the safer but less effective option of squaring the ball in to a crowded goal mouth. Arsenal were clearly wary of Reading’s threat at set pieces leaving nine players in the six yard box for corners. Arsenal dominated the play with Cazorla and Wilshere passing and moving with such mesmerising fluidity it was only a matter of how many Arsenal would score. Given they were supplying world class forwards in the form of Walcott, Oxlade-Chmaberlain and Podolski Reading were lucky to only concede three by the interval.

Reading re-grouped at half time and played five across the middle with Pogrebnyak left up as a lone striker. Reading looked less vulnerable – for a while. The fourth goal was a celebration of passing football at its best culminating in Cazorla completing his hat trick sliding a ball in to the net with ease and not a Reading player even close to him. The Royals defensive set up was disciplined but ill-equipped to match the pace and movement of a truly outstanding passing side. Hunt and Pogrebnyak were immediately replaced by Le Fondre and Robson-Kanu both making an immediate impact leaving me wondering why neither had started the game. Le Fondre is clearly Reading’s best striker and, as Robson-Kanu demonstrated against United recently, he is our most potent wide player. (Yes I know Kebe took his goal well but he continues to frustrate with poor decision-making and defensive weakness.) Le Fondre released by Tabb waltzed round Szczesny to reduce the deficit to three again on sixty-six minutes. Robson-Kanu went on a run and found Kebe on the edge of the box who finished well and amazingly took the Royals to within touching distance of a recovery. Not really. Arsenal toyed with Reading for a few minutes and then Walcott wrong-footed Gorkss (who actually played quite well) before driving past an unsighted Federici. Reading were lucky to only concede five in the end.

Losing at home to United and Arsenal was expected but losing away to Villa, Wigan, Southampton and Sunderland was disastrous. Avoiding relegation looks beyond the current squad, but with the possibility of new signings in January anything is possible. There just might be three clubs in the cluster just above Reading who also might find it hard to stay up. The manner and margin of the last two defeats is cause for concern, but with over half the season to go and only six points adrift of safety it is too early to throw in the towel.
John Wells

This Premier League game took place 2524 days ago in the 2012/2013 season.