Arsenal have answered critics 'on the pitch' says Arsene Wenger

Gunners beat Reading 5-2

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes his players answered their critics on the pitch as they steamrollered Barclays Premier League strugglers Reading.

The Gunners ran out 5-2 winners at the Madejski Stadium last night with hat-trick hero Santi Cazorla the star of the show in a rampant Arsenal performance.

Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott also struck for Wenger's side, who moved to within two points of the top four with the win.

Wenger felt talk of a crisis at the North London club, escalated by the Capital One Cup defeat at Bradford and reported rifts with assistant manager Steve Bould, was put to bed at the expense of bottom side Reading.

"There could only be one answer and that was on the football pitch," he said.

"Success came with the quality of our game. We focused on the quality of our game and played.

"Our ambition is to finish as high as we can and win our next game, that is all we can do. We have to focus on the quality of our football."

When pressed on the recent harsh criticism of Arsenal, Wenger added: "It depends on what you mean by a crisis. If you call being slaughtered by everybody then we were in a super-crisis.

"In our job you need to be mentally strong. It is a test when you have been in a position like we were in."

Walcott, who is still yet to sign a new deal with Arsenal, was deployed in his favoured central role and Wenger is hopeful an agreement can be reached sooner rather than later.

The Frenchman said: "It is not my decision, it is Theo's decision as well - if it is [only] my decision, it is quickly done.

"Theo has been educated at Southampton and Arsenal, where he has become a top-level player.

"I hope that when he considers his future he will think this is the best place for him and sign for us.

"I will just say our desire and will is clear, and Theo knows that. Hopefully we can get to a happy end with it."

Reading boss Brian McDermott still reckons he is the man to guide the Royals to safety this season despite a sixth straight league defeat.

Goals from Adam Le Fondre and Jimmy Kebe saw Reading briefly threaten a revival at 4-2 but another loss has not made the 51-year-old question his ability.

"My position is what it is, I'm not enjoying the results but I'm enjoying the challenge," he said.

"I felt I was the right man to get us out of trouble when we were in the Championship, I felt I was the right to get us two quarter-finals of FA Cups.

"I thought I was the right man to get us into the play-off final, I felt I was the right man to get us promoted to the Barclays Premier League and I feel I'm the right man to get us out of trouble where we are."

PA

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