Arsenal 3 Reading 0: Highbury's class of 2005 dazzle in Reading test

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The Independent Online

Arsène Wenger has said he prefers to judge his players on their technique rather than the country on their passport and watching his young foreign charges overwhelm the Championship leaders last night, Highbury could only agree with his criteria. The Reading fans may have chanted "England" in mockery but a Carling Cup victory built on goals from Jose Antonio Reyes and Robin van Persie was the ideal riposte.

It was the first goal for the Spain international since 10 September and Wenger said that he had brought Reyes back into the team to "help him find his confidence".

A return to Highbury for Reading's Steven Sidwell, Graham Stack and James Harper will have told these three former Arsenal trainees everything they needed to know about how Wenger sees the future of his club. In the Arsenal team against them, the élite graduates of the Highbury academy were, among others, a Swede, two Dutchmen, two Swiss, a right-back from the Ivory Coast and two Englishmen.

On 12 minutes, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie collected the ball on the left and passed through Reading's back line for Reyes to run on to. He darted around Stack and rolled the ball into the net from a tight angle to give Arsenal an early lead.

Owusu-Abeyie, who was making his seventh first-team appearance this season, was the outstanding performer and, shortly before half-time, Wenger's side scored a goal that mimicked the style of their senior team-mates. Van Persie found Sebastian Larsson on the right and when his cross was laid back by Reyes, the Dutch striker tucked home his eighth goal in as many games.

The Arsenal goalscoring record that Thierry Henry surpassed this season was one of the club's more remarkable milestones but another phenomenon has emerged in their reserve side and his strike rate is no less impressive. At 18, Arturo Lupoli has scored 31 times for the second string in his past 29 appearances.

Lupoli managed two in the Carling Cup defeat of Everton last season and this time he was the recipient of a gift from Ibrahim Sonko. The Reading defender tripped over a long punt from the back to allow Lupoli to roll in the third and secure Arsenal's place in the Carling Cup last eight for the third successive year.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Almunia; Eboue, Senderos, Djourou, Gilbert; Larsson, Muamba, Flamini, Owusu-Abeyie (Bendtner, 83); Reyes (Cygan, 74), Van Persie (Lupoli, 63). Substitutes not used: Poom (gk), Connolly.

Reading (4-4-2): Stack (Hahnemann, 83); Murty, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey ( Makin, 59); Oster, Sidwell, Harper, Hunt; Lita (Doyle, 73), Kitson. Substitutes not used: Little, Convey.

Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).

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