Premier League: Gervinho inspires Arsenal to 4-1 win over Reading
Gervinho was the inspiration as Arsenal strolled to a comfortable 4-1 win over struggling Reading at the Emirates.
By Tom Mallows
Last Updated: 30/03/13 7:24pm
The Ivorian scored the opener and set up two more as the Gunners gave their hopes of a top-four place a real boost.
The defeat for Reading meanwhile was a sixth on the spin and leaves new boss Nigel Adkins with a mountain to climb if he is to lift his side out of trouble.
The Gunners were on top from the outset and made the perfect start on 11 minutes, Gervinho tapping home Santi Cazorla's cross-shot from close range to finish a move he had started on the right wing.
Arsenal thought they had won a penalty when onrushing Reading goalkeeper Stuart Taylor clattered Olivier Giroud in the area on 18 minutes, only for referee Chris Foy to wave play on.
Arsene Wenger's men were utterly dominant in the first 45 but could not find a second, the best chance coming when Cazorla drilled just wide of the left-hand post from inside the area.
Adkins will have been relieved to have got in at half-time at just 1-0, but whatever he said at the break went out of the window three minutes into the second period.
Reading again failed to close Arsenal down, allowing Gervinho to lay it off to the excellent Cazorla, who coolly stroked the ball home from the edge of the area.
Gervinho again had a role in the third on 67 minutes, collecting the ball on the halfway line after Reading made a mess of their own corner, striding forward and laying it off to Giroud who drilled low first time beyond Taylor.
Reading gave themselves hope just a minute later, Jobi McAnuff's teasing cross from the left converted at the far post by Hal Robson-Kanu.
That hope was quickly snuffed out though when substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was tripped in the area 13 minutes from time, allowing Mikel Arteta to slot home from the spot.
Aaron Ramsey and Per Mertesacker both had late chances to make it five, as Arsenal closed out one of their easiest victories of the season.
Speaking after the match, Wenger was full of praise for Gervinho, who was starting his first Premier League game since December.
"He is what you want from a striker, dangerous, he scored and gave assists," said Wenger. "The only regret is that he had a few more chances to score, but you cannot fault his performance today, he was absolutely outstanding."
Reading boss Adkins is keen to move on from defeat in his first game, with his former club Southampton his new team's opponents next weekend.
Adkins said: "We'll analyse the game, we'll learn the lessons from it, debrief it on Monday and Tuesday and then we'll get ourselves ready for the next game, I think that is the most important thing we've got to go and do now."