Reading Vs Arsenal Tactical Review – Should Walcott Continue As A Striker?

Santi Cazorla stole the show with a hat-trick and an assist to help a brilliant Arsenal team comprehensively beat Reading 5-2 to clinch a much needed 3 points. 

Pre Match :

Memories of the famous 7-5 Capital One Cup match were still fresh between both the teams.Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal side were under immense pressure and getting all 3 points was a must following their shock defeat to Bradford earlier in the midweek Capital One Cup tie. Theo Walcott finally started where he wanted – in the center forward position. Also much to the delight of the Arsenal fans, the duo of Ramsey and Gervinho were dropped after an unimpressive season so far.



First Half :

The gunners set the tone early on in the match as Oxlade-Chamberlain delivered a taste of things to come for Reading when he forced a fine save from keeper Adam Federici inside two minutes.Arsenal looked bright and it looked to be just a matter of time for the opening goal.

They got the break in the 14th minute when Kieran Gibbs cross from the left picked out Lukas Podolski, who controlled instantly and smashed the ball from eight yards for his fifth goal of the season.

After the goal, Arsenal totally dominated the half. They were not only bossing the possession but also looking for overlaps time and time again. Podolski,Cazorla and Walcott all went close in the first half an hour as Reading continued to look shaky at the back.

Cazorla scored his first of the night on 31′ when Podolski easily beat a defender on the left flank and his cross reached a totally

unmarked Santi positioned between a static Reading defence. In no time he doubled his tally when Podolski’s cross, this time from the right side – reached another unmarked Arsenal player Gibbs on the left. Gibbs nodded the ball for Santi Cazorla and the Spaniard controlled and smashed home Arsenal’s 3rd.

There was only 1 team which looked to be playing football in the half. Arsenal’s free flowing football, for which they are famous was finally at its best in this half and they dominated Reading in each and every department.


A few 1st half stats :

Reading – Arsenal


Comparison of shots in the first half


Second Half :

The 2nd half started in just the same way as the first and it felt like it would be a long day at the office for the Reading players.

Arsenal’s midfield was too strong – their marking, box-box running and steals left Reading clueless. Ultimately, Santi Cazorla grabbed that deserved First Arsenal hat trick on the 1 hour mark. It was a complete team effort which started when a lovely ball from Wilshere which found Podolski free again on the left flank and his cross found Cazorla and it was the same story as he tapped it in from 6 yards.

A period of nervousness followed for Arsenal as complacency took over their dominance.On 66′ a rare mistake by Gibbs, who 

was brilliant for the rest of the night, saw him give away the ball to Tabb near 35 yards. He instantly gave a sharp through ball to substitute Adam Le Fondre who beat  Szczesny in a one on one situation.

And on 70′ Jimmy Kebe squeezed in between a couple of Arsenal defenders to latch onto a through-ball and slotted calmly past Wojciech Szczesny from 12 yards to make it 2-4.

This gave a glimmer of hope to the home side, yet it was Arsenal who controlled the game and the Reading players still looked unsure of what to do with the ball when in possession.

Theo Walcott completed the rout on 80′ when that man – Cazorla set up Walcott and the Englishman cut inside his marker and fired the 5th from 12 yards.


Full Time Analysis : 

Fair Result? Yes, definitely. In fact Reading did not quite seem to deserve the 2 goals in the first place. Arsenal were clearly the better side and we can have a look below to see a comparison of the shots in the game.

Arsenal had a whooping 25 shots with 11 on target compared to Reading 9, a clear indication of their domination. 

Goal Attempts


Here, we see 70% of the game was played in Reading’s half. This is not the amount of possession. This indicates that though Reading 

had the ball, they played most of it in their own half.



Full Time Summary : 

Reading Team Statistics Arsenal
2 Goals 5
0 1st Half Goals 3
3 Shots on Target 13
2 Shots off Target 7
4 Blocked Shots 6
3 Corners 7
7 Fouls 4
5 Offsides 3
1 Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards 0
74.6 Passing Success 88
12 Tackles 16
66.7 Tackles Success 75
32.9 Possession 67.1
46.7 Territorial Advantage 53.3
339 Total Passes 718
17 Total Crosses 21
141 Lost Balls 140
55 Recoveries 55
29.4 1st Half Poss. 70.6
34.7 2nd Half Poss. 65.3

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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