Last Updated: 17/12/12 9:53pm
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That's it! Arsenal have gone a long way to stem the flood of recent criticism with a comfortable win that takes them up to fifth in the Premier League. Santi Cazorla was brilliant as he scored a hat-trick and ran the match from the centre of midfield. The signs are worrying for rock-bottom Reading though, who desperately need to shore up their defence.
McAnuff had the chance to get through on goal but could not get the ball out of his feet. Three minutes of added time.
The 'Oles' come out from the travelling Arsenal support as the Gunners knockit around at the back. Game is as good as done.
Cazorla is taken off to be replaced by Coquelin. The Arsenal fans give him a huge ovation. He has been incredible.
Cazorla now plays it in for Podolski, who smashes one to the keeper's near post but it is quite a way wide in the end.
That definitely is it now, Cazorla ran forward and slotted in the striker, who coolly slotted home left-footed into the bottom corner.
Arsenal slowing things down now. They are still fairly dominant in the centre of the park but must be careful.
Szczesy spills a dangerous cross but Arsenal clear. The Gunners then go down the other and and Cazorla draws a brilliant save from Federici. It's all happening now!
Wilshere is booked after a collision with Gorkss. Looked like two high feet to me but the Arsenal player is penalised.
The Arsenal defence are caught ball watching as Robson-Kanu dribbles to the edge of the box before playing in Kebe, who was in space and onside, for a cool finish. Surely not a comeback?
Gibbs gave the ball away after an awful pass across his back four. Tabb picked it up and plays in Le Fondre, who rounded the keeper and slotted in what is surely a consolation.
Pogrebnyak and Hunt are hauled off to be replaced by Robson-Kanu and Le Fondre in a rather belated attempt to revamp Reading's attacking options.
Wilshere plays in Podolski, who squares it for Cazorla to tap in his hat-trick! Once again too easy for the visitors, this is exhibition stuff now.
Mertesacker runs onto a corner and his shot looks goalbound, but Gorkss puts his head in where it hurts and averts the danger. Brave defending.
Cazorla dribbles through the Reading defence but can't find a team-mate after reaching the box. Arsenal now firmly back on top and controlling possession.
Walcott shoots from outside the box. It bounces wide, though, and Federici looked to have it covered anyway.
Reading seeing a lot more of the ball. Shorey plays in Pogrebnyak but the flag goes up. The Russian shoots anyway and Szczesy saves well.
Wilshere plays in Walcott, who fires beyond Federici only to see Mariappa make a brilliant intervention before clearing the rebound out of the reach of Cazorla.
Reading try their hand at knocking a few balls forward but nothing comes of it as the Arsenal defence have it well under control.
Arsenal are straight on the front foot, with Oxlade-Chamberlain blazing wide from the edge of the box.
For those of you still looking to have a flutter, a draw is 50/1 and a Reading win 100/1 with Sky Bet. If you fancy Arsenal to go on and win 5-0 it is 13/2.
MJ Husain goes out on a limb, although I'm not sure if he's serious: 'Lets not get too ahead of ourselves here. It only the end of first half. You never know what Arsenal team will come out for the second half. We could have a 3-3 draw here!'
Andy continues the positive Arsenal vibe: 'Wonder what the negative nancies will find to gripe about that first half! Proud of the way we played, keep it going Gunners!'
Santanu emails in his thoughts from India: 'Really pleased with the way Arsenal have performed. They should've been up by 4 goals at least. It's 2:19 AM in India but it's all worth it.. The last time I stayed up late was when we played against a strong Bradford team but this time the result will go in our favour.'
Just the one minute of added time takes us to the interval. Arsenal are in total control and could be more than 3-0 up. It would take an even more dramatic turnaround from the famous Capital One Cup match for Reading to get anything out of this.
Kebe and Pogrebnyak counter for Reading but the former cannot make the most of the opening and Arsenal get the ball back again.
Sagna whips in a cross from the right. Oxlade-Chamberlain meets it firmly with his head but Federici again makes a good save.
Discontent his mounting in the stands as Arsenal create a chance despite a series of mis-controls in the build-up. Leigertwood manages to clear bu the ball goes straight back to the Gunners.
Arsenal back in familiar mode now as they knock it around in the Reading half and wait for an opening. Cazorla squares for Podolski but Reading manage to get bodies in the way this time.
McAnuff is shown the yellow card as his high foot catches Wilshere in an uncomfortable position. I don't think there was much intent but he did swing the boot somewhat recklessly.
No sign of a response from Reading. This could be just the tonic for this under-fire Arsenal team, who look to be playing with all the confidence of a side in top form at the moment.
The boos are starting from the home fans now. It's too easy for the visitors as Gibbs knocks the ball across the box for Cazorla to collect, turn and score even when surrounded by defenders.
Arsenal get their foot on the ball and take stock again. They build slowly down the left through Podolski, who chips the ball into the box and the diminutive Cazorla slips in between a static defence to head home and make it 2-0.
Bit of pressure from Reading now but Arsenal clear their lines and Walcott breaks. His cross is met by Cazorla but not with any great conviction.
But suddenly Pogrebnyak beats the offside trap and rolls the ball across goal towards two onrushing attackers. Vermaelen manages to get back and prevent a tap-in.
Podolski finds space on the left and pulls the ball back into the box. It falls to Wilshere who forces an acrobatic save from Federici. This really is all Arsenal now.
Arsenal win another corner, which Walcott whips in but Hunt performs his defensive duties well and heads clear.
Wilshere is down for a while after taking an unintentional knee in the back from Tabb. He is soon back on his feet, though.
But this time Walcott is played clean through by Cazorla! He cannot convert though as Federici does enough to put it wide and nothing comes of the resulting corner. Huge let off for Reading.
Reading venture into the opponents' half but three players are caught out by the offside trap and Arsenal soon get the ball back.
It's one way traffic at the moment. Groan goes up from the home fans as Cazorla wins the ball too easily in midfield. The Spaniard then lets fly from around 25 yards but his effort is wide.
Gibbs swung the ball in from the left and Podolski had time to control the ball on his right foot before lashing home. The German was allowed too much space in the box and Reading paid the price.
One-two between Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain on the edge of the Reading box just fails to come off and the hosts manage to clear.
Long ball by Federici is flicked on by Hunt to Pogrebnyak, who wins the corner. The Russian has looked bright early on.
Arsenal slow things down by knocking it along the back four, McAnuff's shot was the best chance of the game so far.
Home side put together their best move yet. Pogrebnyak cuts inside from the right and pulls the ball back for McAnuff, who can't hit the target.
Nothing comes of the corner but Wilshere then wins a free-kick about 35 yards out, which Walcott curls wide. Reading sitting very deep here and will have to be careful not be overrun.
Arsenal having almost all of the ball in the early stages. Oxlade-Chamberlain gets a cross in and Cummings concedes a corner.
Arsenal knock it around deep in the Reading half. Podolski plays two errant passes, however, and the danger passes.
Miscommunication between Arteta and Sagna gives Reading the ball straight away. The Royals work it into the box but Arsenal clear and Oxlade-Chamberlain tears downfield. His shot is well saved down low by Federici and Podolski is offside on the rebound.
Final thought from Terry before we get underway: 'I agree with Mark. I'm prepared to sacrifice 3 points for the greater good. It's time for change at Arsenal.'
Almost time for kick-off now. The two teams are in the tunnel and are ready to come out onto the pitch.
Alex emails in: 'I think the Gunners will come out with a 2-0 win today, hopefully with a solid win we can get back on form again.'
Chris is the first one to put his neck fully on the line and go for a Reading win: 'Not convinced that Arsenal will have recovered, mentally, after the Bradford upset. As much as Theo will want to prove his skills, I feel that the team will let him down and silly errors will cost Arsenal the points.'
Mark paints a slightly more negative picture from the Arsenal perspective: 'I feel that if the reds win tonight, it will only paper over the cracks, Arsenal need a change at the top and I as an Arsenal fan want us to win but won't lose any sleep if a loss helps Wenger out, In Arsene We Rust.'
Just 20 minutes until kick-off now. Plenty of optimism from the Arsenal fans emailing in but will their players show a similar amount of confidence after that stunning defeat to Bradford last Tuesday?
Jazz predicts Walcott to make the most of his chance tonight: 'Theo finally our front man, I predict a hat-trick, Wenger will have to throw him the cash if he saves our blushes.'
Duncan gets in touch and gives his view on who Reading have picked between the posts: 'Really would have liked to see Taylor start for Reading, a keeper with his experience barely deserves to be behind Fedders and Macca (without injury).'
Daniel believes Walcott might not play through the middle for the whole match: 'Hey, think Poldoski and Walcott would interchange...this is what I wanted as Giroud is not mobile enough for me..and we need more than headers or holding up the ball.'
By the way, if you think we will see a repeat of the incredible 7-5 Capital One Cup victory for Arsenal tonight, that score is priced at 500/1 with Sky Bet.
Reading boss Brian McDermott, speaking on Sky Sports, is not surprised Theo Walcott starts up front. 'I thought he might after he scored a hat-trick against us,' he says.
Santanu also gets in touch and likes the look of Arsenal's front line: 'It's a good line up by Arsene. I hope he plays Walcott through the middle, though I prefer Podolski up front. Nice to see Chambo getting the nod as well. I predict an Arsenal win, although Reading will give a tough fight.'
Jamie emails in: 'Really excited to see Theo up front tonight. I've got a feeling he is gonna have a blinder tonight! I just hope it's not to late to persuade him to sign a new deal!'
Despite their recent struggles Arsenal are 4/7 favourites to win this one with SkyBet. Relegation battlers Reading are 9/2 and a draw is 3/1. If you fancy Pogrebnyak or Walcott to score first they are 8/1 and 6/1 respectively.
If anyone has any reaction to the team news and any predictions for the match in general send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to post your thoughts.
So an interesting choice of line-up from both teams, with the striking options being particularly interesting. For Reading, Pavel Pogrebnyak comes back in to make his first start since October. Arsenal, meanwhile, look to have started Theo Walcott in the central striking role he craves so much.
Arsenal team: Szczesny; Sagna, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Vermaelen; Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla, Chamberlain, Podolski, Walcott.
Reading team: Federici; Cummings, Shorey, Gorkss, Mariappa; Leigertwood, Tabb, Kebe, McAnuff; Hunt, Pogrebnyak.