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Last Updated: Monday, 12 November 2007, 21:55 GMT
Reading 1-3 Arsenal
By Chris Bevan

Mathieu Flamini celebrates with Alexander Hleb after scoring Arsenal's opener
Flamini celebrates with Alexander Hleb after scoring Arsenal's opener
Arsenal overcame Reading's resistance with a stylish win that sends them top of the table on goals scored.

Emmanuel Adebayor hit the post early on but the Gunners were frustrated until Alexander Hleb set up Mathieu Flamini to slot home just before half-time.

Adebayor's fine finish made it 2-0 with Arsenal's 1,000th Premier League goal and Hleb's solo strike added a third.

Nicky Shorey, who hit the woodwork with a late free-kick, managed a consolation for Reading with a close-range finish.

It was a thoroughly convincing win for Arsene Wenger's side, although Reading's approach was more than slightly perplexing.


The home side defended in numbers from the start and, with Kevin Doyle completely isolated up front, the early part of the game saw wave after wave of attacks by the Gunners.

If Adebayor's shot had rolled in, and not against the post, then the Royals would have been forced to come out and attack.

Instead, Steve Coppell's side dug in and set out to frustrate the visitors.

Their ultra-defensive approach meant Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia had little to do, apart from push away Brynjar Gunnarsson's 30-yard shot.

But they kept the game goalless until the 44th minute when Flamini rounded off a neat move by guiding Hleb's low cross into the net despite the best efforts of Stephen Hunt on the line.

The Gunners carried on where they left off after the break and Adebayor got on the scoresheet himself when he fired past Hahnemann and into the bottom corner.

The Togo star thought he had made it 3-0 soon afterwards but his strike, following a slick passing move, was wrongly ruled out for offside.

There was no stopping Arsenal by now though and they did not have to wait long for a legitimate third goal, Hleb breaking into the area before rounding the keeper and firing cheekily home.

Reading's players were out on their feet and, with Arsenal still utterly dominant, a reply looked unlikely.

But Coppell's side did pull a goal back after finally producing a spell of pressure in the closing minutes.

The Royals had already gone close when Shorey's free-kick hit the bottom of Almunia's post and, with three minutes left, the England left-back was on hand to slot home after Hunt's header came back off the woodwork.

  • Reading manager Steve Coppell:
    "The first goal was critical. They had a lot of possession but they didn't create a great deal and they were getting frustrated.

    "We talked about getting hurt on rebound from our corners and set-pieces and, lo and behold, they score from it.

    "We found it hard to get back into game when their confidence started flowing."

  • Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger:
    "The players have shown they can cope with the pressure.

    "This was the best test - would we have the nerves to deal with being the last team to play (over the weekend) with people expecting us to drop points?

    "It was good that we just played the game like we are used to. We could have scored more goals."

    Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Convey (Oster 70), Gunnarsson, Harper (Fae 59), Hunt, Kitson, Doyle (Long 83).
    Subs Not Used: Federici, Bikey.

    Booked: Gunnarsson.

    Goals: Shorey 87.

    Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Eboue, Fabregas, Flamini, Rosicky (Walcott 83), Hleb (Diarra 79), Adebayor (Bendtner 83).
    Subs Not Used: Lehmann, Silva.

    Booked: Fabregas.

    Goals: Flamini 44, Adebayor 52, Hleb 78.

    Att: 24,024

    Ref: Rob Styles (Hampshire).

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