hleb_1

Monday night was another new test for the Arsenal players. Manchester United beat Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford 2-0 on Sunday, which took them 3 points ahead on top of the Premier League. Arsene Wengers Arsenal had the pressure of playing on Monday night after the rest of the league and also looking up at our rivals.

I assumed that Wenger would revert back to 4-4-2 and play attacking football against Reading but he stuck with the same team and formation that we played against both Liverpool and Manchester United.

Almunia
Sagna Toure Gallas Clichy
Eboue Cesc Flamini Rosicky
Hleb
Adebayor

Reading started the game strongly and put Arsenal onto the back foot from the kick off. It wasn't long before Arsenal created a clear cut chance on 4 minutes. Cesc Fabregas won the ball back from Harper and slipped in Adebayor who was through on goal but his right foot shot came back off the outside of the post. If that went in, the scoreline could have been anything at all.

The first half after that basically became a game of Arsenal having all possession, Reading not being able to get close and not many chances being created.

Although Arsenal were dominating the share of the ball, alot of the players were way below par. Hleb, Adebayor and Cesc gave the ball away many times. As Arsene would say we lacked a little bit sharpness.

The tempo of our play needed to be quicker, the players needed to click back into two weeks ago.

Chances were few and far between. Fabregas had a long range strike that flew into the arms of Hahnemann on 11 minutes. By halfway through the first half Arsenal were enjoying 65% possession but apart from Adebayor's strike off the post we were not really creating much in the final third. It may have been a different story had Adebayor had a strike partner alongside him.

Reading had a rare attempt on the Arsenal goal when Gunnarsson pulled a ball down and struck a fierce shot towards Almunia's goal which the Spaniard pushed away.

Coppell had obviously taken notice of Alex Ferguson's tactics and put 10 men behind the ball in a tight central area whenever Arsenal were on the ball and it worked against the slower tempo.

The first half was summed up on 38 minutes when we were awarded a freekick on the edge of the Reading penalty area and it was a choice between Cesc and Toure to take the kick. Cesc rolled it to Toure who miskicked terribly high and wide.

Eboue was in a good position on 41 minutes but shot way over the bar. If Eboue is to progress and make the right wing position his own then he will need to start being more composed in advanced areas of the pitch. Eboue on form in an explosive player and impact player but he is not a very intelligent player. He makes rash decisions and often wrong decisions. I do not think I have seen Eboue place the ball before. He doesn't curl the ball towards goal. He only puts his foot through it.

on 44 minutes the breakthrough goal finally came. Adebayor who frustrated throughout the first 45 minutes played a lovely pass inside the Reading defender for Hleb who raced into the right hand side of the box, his cut back landed at the feet of Flamini who gambled into the box and side footed into the net. 1-0 just before half time, a great time to score.

Flamini had a taste for goals and almost grabbed a second after the break when he drove a low shot at Hahnemann's goal but the American pushed it out for the first corner of the night for Arsenal.

Adebayor can be frustrating and brilliant in a couple of minutes. He controlled the ball and nutmegged Shorey in one move and hit a shot over the bar 51.

On 52 minutes Arsenal produced some wonderful football which ended in Adebayor curling the ball first time into the corner of the net. 2-0 Adebayor has broken his duck and the game is more or less sealed.

Adebayor should have had his second goal three minutes later after a quick counter attack which saw Adebayor rounding Hahnemann and facing an empty net but the linesman flagged wrongly for offside.

You could see the confidence running through Adebayor's veins and his play instantly looked better. on 56 minutes he ran through with pace and power and blasted inches over the bar.

Hleb and Rosicky switched positions often during the second half and our passing became alot sharper as the second half went on. It became a bit embarrassing after the second goal. Arsenal popped the ball around and Reading spent most of the second half chasing down Arsenal players and getting nowhere near the ball.

Hleb, Adebayor and Cesc all improved during the second half and it was Alex Hleb who grabbed the third goal on 78 minutes. Hleb raced onto a pass inside the box side stepped a defender and dragged the ball back past Hahnemann and fired in off a defender for 3-0.

Hleb is the most technical player in the Arsenal squad

He has fantastic feet and can open up teams with his dribbling. This Arsenal team would be built around him if Cesc Fabregas was not at Arsenal.

Diarra replaced Hleb immediately and Fabregas moved further forward. It was an interesting choice considering that Gilberto was on the bench. Interestingly Fabregas picked up a booking a minute later which means that he misses the next match, which also happens to be the easiest of the games coming up. Did Arsene give us a clue as to which midfielder was going to replace the Spaniard against Wigan? Did he want to give Diarra playing time to get ready for Wigan?

Reading hit the post with a Nicky Shorey free kick on 83 minutes.

Bendtner replaced Adebyaor and Walcott replaced Rosicky on 84

Almunia
Sagna Toure Gallas Clichy
Eboue Diarra Flamini Walcott
Cesc
Bendtner

It was Shorey who claimed the consolation goal on 87 minutes after a goalmouth scramble. Someone should have picked up the left back who was standing in the middle of the penalty area.

Eboue should have scored in injury time but instead of shooting he tried to go around the keeper from an already difficult angle, instead he squeezed his shot wide and crashed into the advertising hoardings.

Walcott also had a chance right at the death but his left foot shot was high and no so handsome.

That was more or less the last action of the game and it was probably the easiest away 3 points that we have picked up for a few seasons. Reading had no ambition and not enough quality to contain an Arsenal team who played the game in 1st gear in the first half and 2nd gear in the second half. Arsenal hadn't used the other three gears.

Robin Van Persie should now be available for selection and Arsene Wenger will go back to 4-4-2. It will be interesting to see who makes way. I assume Eboue will be the one to sit on the bench. It will be better for the team but not as good for Alex Hleb who will probably move back to the right unless Eboue plays over Rosicky, which means that Hleb will be on the left.

My early team lineup guess for the Wigan game is:

Almunia
Sagna Toure Gallas Clichy
Hleb Diarra Flamini Rosicky
Van Persie Adebayor

Or, it could be:

Almunia
Sagna Toure Gallas Clichy
Eboue Diarra Flamini Hleb
Van Persie Adebayor

Whatever the team is we will pick up another three points.