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Page last updated at 13:40 GMT, Saturday, 19 April 2008 14:40 UK

Arsenal 2-0 Reading

By Phil McNulty


Arsenal increased Reading's relegation worries with a comfortable victory.

Arsene Wenger's side outclassed Reading and went ahead after 30 minutes when Emmanuel Adebayor slid home a calm finish from Kolo Toure's cross.

Gilberto Silva added a second before half-time when his long-range shot deflected in off Andre Bikey.

Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott struck the woodwork and Michael Duberry cleared off the line from Cesc Fabregas after the break as Arsenal dominated.

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It was only Arsenal's second win in nine Premier League games - a damning statistic that tells the tale of how their title challenge has faded away.

Arsenal gave Walcott a rare start after his impressive displays as a substitute - and he played his part in a first-half display that swept Reading aside.

Royals boss Steve Coppell made six changes from the side that slumped to fellow strugglers Fulham, but they were powerless to stop an Arsenal side playing without the pressure of chasing trophies.

Arsenal created and wasted a host of chances before finally taking the lead through Adebayor after 30 minutes.

Toure was the creator with a cross, but Adebayor took a clever first touch before sliding a precise finish beyond Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann.

And the advantage was deservedly doubled eight minutes later when Gilberto's long-range shot beat Hahnemann via Bikey's head.

There was still time for Hahnemann to save well from Toure and Gilberto before the half-time whistle spared Reading further punishment.

Arsenal continued to dominate after the break, but failed to make quick additions to their goals tally because of their occasionally infuriating habit of passing themselves to death rather than punishing the opposition.

Interview: Reading boss Steve Coppell

Reading captain Graeme Murty was furious just after the hour when he was felled by Alexander Hleb's flailing hand, but the incident went unnoticed by referee Peter Walton.

Van Persie was desperately unlucky after 71 minutes when he curled a stunning left-foot free-kick against the woodwork from 20 yards.

And seconds later Walcott was denied when he shot against the bar with Hahnemann beaten.

Reading almost gave Arsenal an anxious moment with 13 minutes left when Bobby Convey took advantage of slack defending, but Jens Lehmann turned his effort over the top.

But normal service was swiftly resumed and Reading substitute Duberry did well to scramble back and clear off the line from Fabregas.

• Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger:
"In this match we showed what quality we do have and that the team is strong.

"We are still ambitious - we have 74 points and want to finish with 83 points which is a decent total. We want to finish off as close as we can to the winners of the league.

"We showed pride and responded after the disappointment of last week. We have to bounce back because the strong always come back stronger.

"We have a very young team with a great future."

• Reading boss Steve Coppell:
"When they scored their first goal it was always going to be a mountain for us to climb.

"We shrunk back after we conceded and observed and did not play.

"After the break we put in some real effort and commitment.

"We have a three game mini-season and must aim to get enough points to stay up.

"There are nine points available to us and we have got to be genuine in our attempts to get them."

Arsenal: Lehmann, Toure (Eboue 60), Gallas, Song Billong, Clichy, Walcott, Fabregas, Silva, Hleb (Denilson 74), Van Persie, Adebayor (Bendtner 73).
Subs Not Used: Mannone, Senderos.

Goals: Adebayor 30, Silva 38.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Sonko (Duberry 73), Ingimarsson, Bikey, Rosenior, Kebe (Matejovsky 79), Cisse, Harper (Fae 73), Convey, Kitson.
Subs Not Used: Federici, Doyle.

Booked: Kitson, Bikey, Sonko.

Att: 60,109

Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas 8.23 (on 90 minutes).

  • Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

  • see also
    Premier League as it happened
    19 Apr 08 |  Premier League
    Saturday's football photos
    19 Apr 08 |  Football
    How to watch Match of the Day
    08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day

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