Spanish playmaker Santi Cazorla scored a hat-trick as Arsenal stylishly dismantled bottom club Reading 5-2 to move up to fifth in the Premier League on Monday.
Reading's lowly league position was reflected in their school-yard defending as Arsenal cut through the home team at will to open up a four-goal lead before the hosts briefly threatened to make a game of it late on.
Germany forward Lukas Podolski put Arsenal ahead after 14 minutes while Cazorla scored twice in the first half and once after the break as the visitors ran riot.
Adam Le Fondre grabbed what looked like a consolation before Jimmy Kebe briefly stirred the home fans to believe in an unlikely comeback before Theo Walcott wrapped up the match.
Arsenal now have 27 points from 17 games, two behind rivals Tottenham Hotspur in fourth and 15 behind leaders Manchester United.
Arsene Wenger's redeployment of Walcott as a central striker could prove to be the tactical switch that reignites Arsenal's stuttering season. It could also persuade him to end his drawn-out contract stand-off with the club, further boosting Arsenal's hopes of a brighter future.