Written by Mean Lean on Monday, 17 December 2012 23:38
Oh you sexy looking thing, I haven't seen you around these parts for sometime now. I hope you are here to stay.
That first half was a thing of beauty at times. I must note that this is against the side at the very bottom of the table and we should expect to score goals against the lowest placed side in the league but we know all to well that an Arsenal side not clicking is very capable of not winning games against teams far worse than we are. Last Tuesday provides the perfect example of that.
I have said many a time that our results are often based on ourselves rather than the opposition, rarely do we get our groove on and end up disappointed. Today's Arsenal team would have been safely tucked up into the semi finals of the league cup. On that cold night in Yorkshire we saw a team devoid of ideas, passing from side to side with no movement ahead of the midfield, tonight Arsene sprang a surprise by playing Theo Walcott as a central striker flanked by Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
I would imagine that some home truths were told in that Arsenal dressing room after the full time whistle at Bradford and I expected a response from the team and we got it.
Not only was pace injected into the team via the personnel, mainly Walcott and Chamberlain, the latter started very brightly. But certainly more importantly than the players themselves was the fact that we moved the ball much quicker and the movement from our forward players was head and shoulders above what we saw last week.
Only recently I was bemoaning our lack of combination play but that was all put right tonight. Reading could not get near us as we popped the ball about at speed. It seems as if all my moans flicked their middle fingers at me tonight and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Lukas Podolski, another frustration of mine this season was back involved in the game, looked dynamic and got himself into the box.
Gibbs had overlapped on 14 minutes, Podolski made his way into the box and took down the left back's low cross and fired in our first of the game. It was Podolski who was involved in our second when he picked up the ball on the left and drove a perfect cross onto the head of Santi Cazorla to stoop in from close range.
Cazorla was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch. He controls the ball like nobody else on the pitch. You look at other players and they look as if they physically have to attempt to control the ball. The ball just sticks to whatever part of his body he throws at it. It would be criminal not to get the best out of this little genius.
I loved the fact that we were getting players in the box and not just ballooning crosses over everyone's head but actually putting in dangerous crosses for our players to attack. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain even came close with a header. Chamberlain is slowly getting back to his purple patch of last season. His injury and lack of run in the side has meant that we have yet to see the best of him this season and hopefully that will happen soon. I love his mixture of creative passing as well as direct speedy running. I cannot think of another player at the club who has that combination. When he matures he will become a very good footballer.
It was Santi Cazorla once more who made it three. Kieran Gibbs headed down a cross to Santi who spun and fired past the keeper on his left foot from close range. Incredibly Arsenal had scored their first three goals from crosses into the box. I have had envious glances at Manchester United for years for continuously getting goals from crosses and now Arsenal destroy Reading from the flanks.
The fourth goal was a throw back to 2003/04. Chamberlain cut in from the right, poked it to Wilshere who dribbled his way to the edge of the box and fed the overlapping Podolski who picked out Cazorla at the far post to tap in for his hat-trick. It could have easily been Ljungberg>Bergkamp>Pires/Cole>Henry.
Santi Cazorla's performance reminded me of Lionel Messi for Barcelona, ok without beating 5 players at a time. But he was all over the pitch, controlling the play but popping up in the box to score three goals at the right time. More of that please Mr Cazorla you lovely little thing.
In typical Arsenal fashion, we gave Reading two goals in the second half to pull it back to 4-2. No doubt many Gooners including myself felt the same way at 4-2 against Tottenham a few weeks ago. That unavoidable worry that 'Newcastle' could happen once more but just like that Tottenham game we made it 5-2 and yes, it was Theo Walcott to grab the fifth, ooh in the same corner of the net.
Theo was pretty quiet overall considering our domination and the space we had to play in but his runs pulled Reading around and he got his goal in the end. I remain skeptical about him in that position against stronger sides away and bus parkers at home but given that the team scored 5 away from home, I would expect and be happy if Arsene kept things the same for the next one which is Wigan away.
It was only Reading and we shouldn't go over board but we also lost to only Bradford, Norwich and Swansea. I wrote today that not only was the result important but so was the performance. I think we got both, fingers crossed this is the start of positivity.
I recognise this team from Anfield and the Etihad, I haven't seen it for a while. Not quite sure what I saw last Tuesday. Please stay around, I like you much more.