Santi Cazorla bagged a hat trick as Arsenal produced a five star performance to beat Reading at the Madjeski Stadium.
Arsene Wenger’s men had struck seven times in an extraordinary 11 goal Capital One Cup thriller with the Royals back in October, and bounced back from being humiliatingly knocked out of the competition by Bradford last week with a display that bristled with confidence.
That being said the home side didn’t offer much in terms of a contest and, their two goals aside, barely threatened the Gunners as they remained marooned at the foot of the Premier League table, six points from safety.
It was evident from the first whistle that Arsenal would be taking their frustrations out on the hosts and they dominated with embarrassing ease with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain forcing Adam Federici into a save after two minutes before the deadlock was broken just before the quarter hour.
Kieran Gibbs clipped a cross into the penalty area from the left, finding the onrushing Lukas Podolski and the German strike showed great control and composure to trap the ball before finishing past Federici from close range.
Podolski then shot wide before Theo Walcott, operating in his favoured central striker position, was denied by a fine block from Federici after breaking the Reading offside trap.
But the visitors didn’t have to wait long before doubling their advantage as Cazorla headed in Podolski’s just after the half hour and doubled his tally two minutes later, swivelling in the box before finding the net.
The hosts managed to see out the first 15 minutes of the second half before Cazorla completed his treble after some good approach play that saw Jack Wilshere feed Podolski, who unselfishly put it on a plate for the Spanish schemer to score.
The home side finally came to life and substitute Adam Le Fondre gave them hope of an unlikely comeback as he rounded Wojciech Szczesny to pull one back in the 66th minute, before Jimmy Kebe struck a second five minutes later after nipping between two defenders on his way to goal.
However, any hope of a comeback evaporated 10 minutes from time when Walcott grabbed a deserved goal with a cultured finish to lift Arsenal into fifth.