Reading 2 - 5 Arsenal

Match info: Premier League at The Madejski Stadium

Date: 17/12/2012 KO: 20:00 Ref: A Taylor Att: 24,125

Home team/scorers Scores Away team/scorers


Adam Le Fondre 66
Jimmy Kebe 71



Lukas Podolski 14
Santi Cazorla 32,34,60
Theo Walcott 80

FT (ht: 0-3)

  • Last Updated: December 17 2012, 23:28 GMT

Arsene Wenger felt Arsenal answered their critics by sweeping past Barclays Premier League strugglers Reading 5-2 with a hat-trick from Santi Cazorla at the Madejski Stadium.

Arsenal answered critics - Wenger

The Gunners were in need of a response following last week's shock Capital One Cup penalty shoot-out defeat at Bradford.

There was no signs of any hangovers from the disappointments of Valley Parade as Arsenal surged into a 3-0 half-time lead following Lukas Podolski's well-taken goal and a brace from Cazorla.

The Spaniard completed his treble on the hour, and although the Royals rallied with goals from substitute Adam Le Fondre and Jimmy Kebe, Arsenal made sure there would be no late drama when contract rebel Theo Walcott slotted in a fifth with 10 minutes left as Arsenal moved up to within two points of fourth-placed Tottenham.

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

"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."

Walcott, meanwhile, admits his contract negotiations are "going to be a slow process" as the England forward looks to sort his future past the end of the season one way or another.

Wenger deployed Walcott in the player's preferred central attacking role tonight, and felt it was an "encouraging" display.

The Arsenal manager is hopeful an agreement can be reached sooner rather than later.

The Frenchman said: "It is not my decision, it is Theo's decision as well - if it is [only] my decision, it is quickly done.

"Theo has been educated at Southampton and Arsenal, where he has become a top level player here.

"I hope that when he considers his future he will think this is the best place for him and sign for us.

"I will just say our desire and will is clear, and Theo knows that. Hopefully we can get to a happy end with it."

For Reading boss Brian McDermott, there was little festive cheer in the Royals final home match before Christmas.

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

He said: "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.

"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 return to the npower Championship.

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

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