Santi Cazorla grabbed a hat-trick as Arsenal climbed up to fifth in the Premier League with a 5-2 win at bottom-of-the-table Reading.
The Gunners bounced back from their League Cup disappointment at Bradford in emphatic style with a convincing win at the Madejski Stadium.
Arsenal went ahead early on as Lukas Podolski lashed the ball home past Adam Federici after just 14 minutes.
Spanish star Cazorla then took control as he scored two goals in two-minutes just before half-time. The former Malaga man then cemented his claim for the match-ball with his third on the hour mark.
Reading then showed some real spirit as they battled back with two goals of their own with Adam Le Fondre and Jimmy Kebe both slotting home.
But the fairytale comeback never materialised as Theo Walcott – who started the game as a central striker – fired home Arsenal’s fifth.
The result moves Arsenal up to fifth in the Premier League table while Reading remain rooted to the bottom and in danger of being cut adrift in the fight to avoid relegation.
The tone was set early as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain tested Reading goalkeeper Federici early on before Jobi McAnuff squandered a good chance for the Royals at the other end.
Arsenal were ahead on 14 minutes as Podolski was afforded far too much room in the box, before Cazorla scored twice in three minutes as he capitalised on some static defending from the hosts.
Federici did well to keep out Oxlade-Chamberlain again and send the hosts in only three down, but the Australian could do nothing to prevent Cazorla completing his hat-trick by rounding off a brilliant move after the break.
Reading threatened the unlikeliest of comebacks when Le Fondre and Kebe both converted one-on-ones within the space of five minutes, but Arsenal managed to slow things down and calm the nerves.
And the rout was completed when Cazorla turned provider for Walcott, who showed a striker’s composure to slot home left-footed into the bottom corner.
1st Half Goals
Shots on Target
Shots off Target
1st Half Poss.
2nd Half Poss.
Brentford are without loanees Rob Kiernan, Marcello Trotta and Lee Hodson for the midweek tie.
Wigan midfielder Kiernan, Fulham striker Trotta and Watford defender Hodson have all been denied permission to play in the competition by their parent clubs.
Kiernan had to go off at half-time during Saturday’s 2-1 win at Notts County with concussion so was unlikely to be fit anyway.
On-loan Norwich midfielder Tom Adeyemi, fit again after a month out with a hamstring injury, replaced Kiernan at Meadow Lane and he is eligible to play.
Boss Uwe Rosler gave back-up goalkeeper Richard Lee a run-out in the original tie, which ended 1-1, so he should figure again.
Midfielder Kevin O’Connor (ankle) and striker Farid El Alagui (knee) are still out.
Phil Parkinson will ring the changes as Bradford look to maintain their incredible record in knockout competitions.
The Bantams have yet to taste defeat in a cup competition this term, going 10 games unbeaten across the Capital One Cup, Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and FA Cup.
However, the downside to such an impressive run has meant Parkinson’s men have had to negotiate their way through a series of gruelling fixtures, some of which have included extra-time and penalty shoot-outs.
One of the first-team regulars who definitely will not feature is midfielder Nathan Doyle, who serves a one-match ban after picking up a fifth caution in Saturday’s draw to Southend.
In-form striker Nahki Wells, who took his tally to 15 for the season against the Shrimpers, may be among those rested after struggling with a knee problem of late.
Will Atkinson has had to contend with a hip problem while fellow midfielder Gary Jones, 35, played the entire game of Bradford’s historic spot-kick success over Barclays Premier League giants Arsenal.
Speaking to the Bantams’ official website, Parkinson explained: “I have told both of our chairmen our plans for next Tuesday and they are happy and understand that we are going to make as many changes as possible.
“That will include having some of the youth-team players with us.
“We have to manage the lads properly with the amount of games we’ve had already and the amount of games we have coming up in this next month or so.
“We will be going to Brentford looking to put a good performance in, as we always do, but I have to be fair to some of our players.”
Oxford defender Michael Duberry could make his first-team return after a lengthy injury lay-off.
The experienced centre-back has not played this campaign after suffering a serious neck injury at the end of last season, but has made good progress in recent weeks and is now back in full training.
U’s boss Chris Wilder told the club’s official website: “Michael has done very well and is in contention on Tuesday. Having someone of his strength and experience in and around the place is a big lift.
“He is a big character and a big player for us and it is excellent news to have him back.”
Wilder will once again be without suspended midfielder Simon Heslop, who will serve the second game of a three-match ban.
Accrington will be without Marcus Carver for the midweek tie.
Carver came off the bench to make his first League Two appearance of the season during Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Wycombe but the 19-year-old forward will not travel to the Kassam Stadium having played for Marine in an earlier round while on loan with the Evo-Stick League Northern Premier League outfit.
Stanley boss Leam Richardson hopes to have his options boosted up front by player-coach James Beattie.
Former England international Beattie has not played since scoring in the original tie at the Crown Ground more than a fortnight ago.
The 34-year-old is back in training despite a heavy knock but remains a major doubt.
With no other injury concerns, Richardson could ring the changes after expressing clear frustration in the aftermath of the Wycombe defeat that stretched his side’s winless run to five games in all competitions.