Santi Cazorla scored a hat-trick to lift Arsenal’s spirits as the Gunners bounced back from their League Cup humiliation with an emphatic 5-2 victory at Reading on Monday.
Spanish midfielder Cazorla struck twice in the first half after Lukas Podolski’s opener and completed his treble after the break to shatter Reading’s hopes of inflicting more misery on Arsene Wenger’s spluttering side. Adam Le Fondre and Jimmy Kebe reduced the deficit for Reading, but Theo Walcott’s late strike confirmed Arsenal’s rise to fifth place, two points behind Chelsea and Tottenham, and left the hosts bottom of the table and six points adrift of safety.
“It was important to stay strong and play football. Success comes with playing (good) football. And it was a very convincing win tonight,” Wenger said.
Gunners midfielder Jack Wilshere hailed Cazorla’s contribution, saying: “His all-round play is great. It’s tough for anyone to come from Spain into the Premier League, but he makes it look so easy.”
Inevitably, Wenger made changes for the game like dropping Ivory Coast forward Gervinho and opting for an attacking formation featuring Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Podolski.
Arsenal’s first goal came in the 14th-minute after Podolski took Kieran Gibbs’ cross from the left down with one touch and rammed the ball past Federici with his next.
Arsenal doubled their lead when Podolski’s cross from the left was nodded in by the smallest man on the pitch, Cazorla, in the 32nd minute.
The Gunners needed only two minutes and 41 seconds to extend their lead, with Cazorla again the man on target.
Cazorla completed his hat-trick on the hour mark with a tap-in after Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere and Podolski exchanged passes to leave Reading’s defenders chasing shadows.
Le Fondre and Kebe scored one goal apiece for Reading but Walcott made sure of an Arsenal victory in the 80th minute when he accepted a pass from Cazorla, skipped past Kaspars Gorkss and slotted calmly past Federici’s outstretched hands.