By 1970’s Gooner
It was men against boys; only the other way round if you see what I mean. But it was not like that all the way through. Coppell went for the conservative approach packing his midfield with five men and playing only one man up front.
Arsenal started somewhat lethargically and although they were enjoying 60% of possession they could not find a way round the packed Reading defense.
Yet it could have been very different from as early as the 4th minute when Adebayor put through by Rosicky clean on goal rather casually stroked the ball round Hanemann only to see it hit the outside the right hand post and go out of play.
Reading’s defensive formation was working quite well until the 43rd minute when they won a corner! As on many occasions that is when the defensive team is most vulnerable with the commitment of players in the opposite box opening up space on the other end of the pitch.
Arsenal were in the Reading box in a flash and Hleb was squaring the ball to the on rushing Flamini to score his first goal of the season.
That spelled the end of Reading’s mental resilience. The second half was monopolised by Arsenal adding the second on 52 after a sumptuous passing movement.
First Adebayor passed to Rosicky who gave it to Fabregas who laid it back for Adebayor to score from just inside the box with the minimum of back lift and with the inside of his right boot beyond the despairing Hanemann.
Now it was cruise control and exhibition “Harlem Globetrotters” staff as Reading were reduced to just a spectator part.
The Arsenal players were more interested in putting passes together and keeping the ball for very long spells rather than going for the jugular. Just like a cat plays with a captive mouse whose fate is already beyond doubt!
Hleb got the third on 78 after Oster passed to nobody outside his area. Hleb picked it up went through one player dummied the goalkeeper, dragged the ball back to his right foot and shot into the net off the defender’s stretched leg.
Wenger’s insistence on making double substitutions at the same time rather than spacing them out disrupted the flow again just as they did in Arsenal’s last game against Manchester United.
This gave the impetus for Reading to push forward and as Arsenal relaxed a bit more they managed to score a goal after a header hit the post with Almunia already out of position trying to stop it.
Fabregas got an “intended” yellow card and misses Arsenal’s next game against Wigan at the Emirates.
But Arsenal are top of the League again. Where they belong.
Coppell: "Reading have three different ways of playing against Arsenal". Really?