London: Arsenal gave their Champions League qualification hopes a boost with a comfortable win over relegation-threatened Reading.
New Royals boss Nigel Adkins saw his side totally outplayed throughout, with goals from Gervinho, Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and Mikel Arteta ensuring all three points for the home side, although there was some cheer for the Berkshire side when Hal Robson-Kanu headed home a second-half consolation.
Arsene Wenger made four changes to the side that defeated Swansea City last time out, with Bacary Sagna, Aaron Ramsey, Gervinho and Tomas Rosicky included in the starting XI, while Reading boss Adkins brought Danny Guthrie into a five-man midfield and handed Pavel Pogrebnyak a start in a lone striking role.
The home side started the game brightly and it came of little surprise when they opened the scoring after just 10 minutes when Gervinho tapped home from close range.
The Ivorian started the move by driving towards the penalty area from a right-wing position before the ball eventually found its way to Santi Cazorla on the left and his driven cross was stroked home from the edge of the six-yard box by the unmarked Ivorian.
The home side should have been given the chance to double their lead from the penalty spot eight minutes later when Royals keeper Stuart Taylor clattered into Giroud, however, referee Chris Foy was unmoved, much to the bemusement of the majority of the Emirates Stadium crowd.
These two sides had scored a combined 19 goals in their two previous meetings this season, and a high-scoring affair looked likely once again as the Gunners piled the pressure on their visitors, but despite creating numerous chances throughout the first half, they were unable to extend their single goal advantage.
Just two minutes into the second half, however, Arsenal did finally manage to double their lead as Cazorla neatly stroked home from the edge of the penalty area.
Gervinho was involved once again, with the former Lille man taking on several defenders just inside the box before looking up and picking out the unmarked Spaniard who calmly curled an effort just inside Taylor’s left-hand post.
It took until midway through the second half for Arsenal to finally kill off Adkins’ men when Giroud slotted home after more impressive approach play from Gervinho.
Just a minute later, however, and Reading must have sensed that another of their fabled comebacks was on the cards when Hal Robson-Kanu bravely threw himself at a Jobi McAnuff cross to head home at the far post.
However, any prospect of a tense finish was ended when the Gunners were awarded a penalty 10 minutes from time after Adrian Mariappa fouled substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain, with Mikel Arteta stepping up to hammer the penalty into the corner of the net and seal the routine victory.