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Reading 2-5 Arsenal: Has Arsène Wenger's Side Answered Their Critics?

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Arsenal's 5-2 thumping of Reading in the Premier League was a belated antidote to the six-day hangover Arsène Wenger's side will have experienced after their embarrassing League Cup loss to Bradford City.

A 3-0 interval lead was a resounding response from a side whose mental fragility continues to be exposed by all manner of teams across the country and the continent, and in Santi Cazorla - who netted his first Gunners hat-trick - Wenger has perhaps the most naturally gifted two-footed attacker in Europe.

Jack Wilshere's excellent recovery after 16 months out is further cause for optimism while even the frustrating Theo Walcott spearheaded the visitors' attack with authority, scoring his fourth goal at the Madejski Stadium this season.

It was feasible Arsenal could have gone into this game in the bottom half of the table but they started in eighth and elevated to fifth by the end of the evening, overtaking Chelsea to move third in the goal difference column.

santi cazorla

Tottenham's two-point advantage will grate but such is their tendency to implode Wenger should not be too concerned by any mutterings of a power shift in north London.

However Reading are a poor side whose sole Premier League win against Everton was a fortuitous one. They have somehow avoided a proper battering this season but their biggest loss was at an impotent Sunderland, who swatted the Royals 3-0. Their bottom berth reflects their hopelessness.

Anything other than victory would have been a minor catastrophe for Wenger, who mused prior to his press conference on Friday "the sharks are here". There remains great respect for him (he is one of the most entertaining managers holding court) and his achievements but the disenchantment has grown to a new level this season among supporters.

Christmas looks kind for Arsenal, though. They play away to Wigan before entertaining West Ham and Newcastle ahead of the New Year's Day trek to Southampton. All teams are in the bottom half of the table, yet they provide an acid test for a squad accused of feebleness.

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