Arsenal's Santi Cazorla (L) celebrates with teammates after
scoring a hat-trick against Reading during their English
Premier League match at the Madejski stadium in Reading.
Spanish playmaker Santi Cazorla scored a hat-trick as
Arsenal stylishly dismantled bottom club Reading 5-2 to move up
to fifth in the Premier League.
Reading's lowly league position was reflected in their
school-yard defending as Arsenal cut through the home team at
will to open up a four-goal lead before the hosts briefly
threatened to make a game of it late on.
Germany forward Lukas Podolski put Arsenal ahead after 14
minutes while Cazorla scored twice in the first half and once
after the break as the visitors ran riot.
Adam Le Fondre grabbed what looked like a consolation before
Jimmy Kebe briefly stirred the home fans to believe in an
unlikely comeback before Theo Walcott wrapped up the match.
Arsenal now have 27 points from 17 games, two behind rivals
Tottenham Hotspur in fourth and 15 behind leaders Manchester
United. Reading stay bottom with nine points.
Arsenal were looking to rebound from their humiliating League
Cup exit at the hands of fourth tier Bradford City last week
and took the lead when Podolski took a touch and fired
left-footed into the net for his fifth Premier League goal of
The lead was almost doubled eight minutes later when Walcott,
handed the central striking role he craves, sprung the
offside trap but his low shot was parried by the feet of
Reading keeper Adam Federici.
It was only a matter of time before Arsenal grabbed a second
and on 32 minutes Podolski turned provider, darting down the
left flank and curling in a cross that found Cazorla arriving
in the centre unmarked to head past Federici.
Cazorla's second was another example of poor Reading
Full back Kieran Gibbs headed a Podolski cross back into the
danger zone and Cazorla found space to swivel in the area and
score with a volley that bounced up off the ground and into
The Spaniard's hat-trick arrived 14 minutes after the break
when midfielder Jack Wilshere fed Podolski who crossed from
the left and Cazorla swept home from close range.
The last time these two teams met was the extraordinary
League Cup tie in October when Arsenal recovered from a 4-0
deficit to win 7-5 in extra-time.
Memories of that improbable comeback were stirred as Reading
Le Fondre grabbed a goal back on 66 when he rounded Arsenal
keeper Wojciech Szczesny and tapped in before Kebe latched
onto a throughball and slotted home with 19 minutes still to
Walcott squashed any hopes of a home comeback, however, when
he cut inside his marker to add a fifth 10 minutes from time.