Royals out-gunnedThe Royals were beaten by a superb Arsenal side at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon, in Nigel Adkins’ first game in charge of the club.
After a bright opening from the visitors, the Gunners took the lead as Gervinho tapped home a cross-come-shot from Santi Cazorla.
The away side withstood a barrage of pressure from their hosts before the break, though Cazorla himself doubled the lead after the restart as he brilliantly curled past Stuart Taylor from 20 yards.
Olivier Giroud rounded off a lightning fast counter attack to bag a third shortly after the hour mark, before Reading grabbed themselves a consolation as Hal Robson-Kanu headed home Jobi McAnuff’s superb dipping cross.
Mikkel Arteta would have the last word however – slotting home a spot-kick won by lively substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Nigel Adkins looked calm and composed as he strolled out for his first game in charge of the Royals – and after warmly greeting Arsene Wenger, was welcomed by a sizeable travelling following from Berkshire.
There were half openings for Adrian Mariappa and Olivier Giroud in the opening five minutes, though Reading’s centre half headed wide – before Arsenal’s number 12 nodded straight at Stuart Taylor.
The seventh minute saw both sets of fans brilliantly observe a minute’s applause for David ‘Rocky’ Rocastle – on the 12th anniversary of the Gunners’ legends passing.
And the noise level raised further three minutes later – as Santi Cazorla’s cross come shot was tapped home by Gervinho.
There were suspicions of offside – but the cries of the blue and white back line proved to be in vain.
The Ivorian clipped a header wide after good work from Bacary Sagna moments later, as Wenger’s men tried to press home their advantage.
There were also cries for a penalty to go to the home side as Taylor took down Giroud in the box, but Adkins’ men enjoyed a rare slice of luck as play was waved on.
Red tails were up – Gervinho again involved as he skipped past Pearce on the halfway line before galloping forward and dragging an effort wide, as Mariappa did enough to put him off balance.
Stephen Kelly was in unbelievable defensive form at times, hurling himself to the floor to heroically block no less than four Arsenal efforts in the first half – whilst Cazorla shot narrowly wide with 39 minutes on the clock.
There was still time for Gervinho to slice over after showcasing more quick footwork inside the box, and only another brave stop from Mariappa prevented Cazorla from tapping in from close range.
1-0 it was at the break.
All the Royals’ resilience before the break was undone quickly after the restart, as Santi Cazorla doubled his side’s lead.
The diminutive midfielder was teed up by Gervinho – and beautifully curled home past Taylor from the edge of the area.
Arsenal continued to look bright, but the Royals made efforts to respond – as Robson-Kanu did brilliantly to drive down the right wing before clipping in a teasing cross, that flew across goal and narrowly evaded the on-rushing Pogrebnyak.
Refusing to let their heads drop – the visitors continued to press, as Pearce saw a volley saved from close range after Pogrebnyak had flicked back McAnuff’s cross.
But as those endeavours continued, it was almost inevitable that the home side would respond with a rapier like counter attack – and so it proved.
As Reading lost possession on the left wing Gervinho scampered rapidly upfield, before squaring for Giroud to expertly slot home a third.
However that often mentioned Reading spirit was still showcased, as Robson-Kanu pulled one back almost immediately.
The Welshman had scored a header for his country in midweek – and this effort was equally impressive, as he stooped low to convert McAnuff’s superb right footed cross.
But Arsene Wenger was able to call on some impressive cavalry, as international duo Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lucas Podolski were introduced – and seconds later the Englishman had won a penalty.
Mariappa clipped the winger on the edge of the box – with Chris Foy pointing to the spot and Arteta converting coolly from 12 yards.
Taylor then saved superbly from Ramsey as Arsenal continued to crank up the pressure in the closing stages.
4-1 it finished - and the Royals are now left to regroup for a home clash with Southampton next weekend.