Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates with his team-mates after scoring Arsenal’s first goal.
Highlights of the EFL Cup fourth-round match between Arsenal and Reading
Arsenal cruised into the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup with a 2-0 victory over Reading at the Emirates Stadium.
A goal in either half from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain saw Arsene Wenger’s much-changed side comfortably dispatch Jaap Stam’s Sky Bet Championship outfit in Tuesday’s fourth-round tie.
There was to be no repeat of the thrilling 2012 encounter between the two sides – which saw Arsenal fight back from four goals down to win 7-5 – as the Gunners booked their place in Wednesday’s last-eight draw with an assured display.
Olivier Giroud’s wait for his first start of the season continued as he was named on the bench, with Wenger opting for Lucas Perez to lead the line.
In total, the Gunners made nine changes to the side which were held at home to Middlesbrough, while Stam made five alterations for the Royals’ trip to north London.
Carl Jenkinson, drafted in for his first Arsenal appearance since May 2014, almost marked his return to the first-team fold with a goal on six minutes.
eff Reine-Adelaide’s flick released the full-back into space in the area, only for Ali Al Habsi to thwarts his fierce drive before Jenkinson headed the rebound over.
Oxlade-Chamberlain went close two minutes later, flashing a low drive across the face of the goal as Arsenal relentlessly went after the opener.
In fairness, Reading did well to stifle Arsenal’s bright start but the hosts continued to threaten, Ainsley Maitland-Niles whistling a curling effort marginally wide on 20 minutes.
Lucas Perez controls the ball in Arsenal EFL Cup clash with Reading
Lucas then spurned Arsenal’s clearest opening, opting to square to Maitland-Niles instead of shooting – a decision which allowed Reading to break up the attack.
On 33 minutes, however, the hosts finally got the breakthrough as Oxlade-Chamberlain drove at Tyler Blackett and fizzed the ball through his legs and past the unsighted Al Habsi.
Reading ended the half with a flourish as Callum Harriott’s deflected effort nestled on the roof of the Arsenal goal before Blackett’s header forced a save from Emiliano Martinez from the resulting corner.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Arsenal (L) scores his side’s first goal against Reading
Blackett was called into action early in the second period, blocking Oxlade-Chamberlain’s shot just moments after the forward had burst past him.
But for their dominance, Arsenal continued to present Reading with chances, although Kieran Gibbs was on hand to atone for his error by cutting out Gareth McCleary’s through pass on 52 minutes.
Stam introduced Yann Kermorgant before the hour and it took the Frenchman just four minutes to create an opening, with his header drawing Martinez into a smart save.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain mobbed after scoring for Arsenal
Giroud, making his first appearance in a month, was brought on with 25 minutes remaining and he would have had a goal to mark the occasion had Al Habsi not shown great reflexes to save his header on 70 minutes.
Alex Iwobi missed a glorious chance to seal the Arsenal victory, fluffing his lines while trying to convert a rebound after Al Habsi saved from Oxlade-Chamberlain.
As such, it was left to the man who had opened to scoring to wrap up proceedings as Oxlade-Chamberlain’s driven effort deflected in off Jordan Obita as the Gunners reached the last eight for the first time in four seasons.