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Arsenal 1 Queens Park Rangers 0

I refer you to my preview of the QPR game when I foretold of a scrappy 1-0 win for Arsenal. (Though my powers of clairvoyance did not stretch to the correct goalscorer, alas). Off the back of a couple of harrowing (and deserved) defeats, performances are rarely of a champagne vintage. Remember Swansea last year? Of course you don`t, but amidst the trauma of Old Trafford we snuck a 1-0 home win via our most ludicrously serendipitous goal of the season. I expected much the same against QPR and it`s largely what we got. We improved on Schalke and Norwich, but that is to damn with faint praise.

At least on this occasion we can point to a busy opposing goalkeeper and conclude that this was a deserved victory. If only just about. The cockles of the crowd were warmed by starts for Bacary Sagna and a first start in 17 months for Jack Wilshere, as the first visit of the whipping winter wind made itself known in the capital. The first half was not really friendly to makers of highlight reels in truth. Wilshere did give us some of his inveterate spark, much missed in the last two matches. The simultaneous loss of our most direct players- Walcott, Chamberlain, Rosicky and Diaby- has made us look pedestrian against well drilled opponents. Wilshere completed all 33 of his passes in the first half, with 21 of those coming in the final third.

Arsenal eked out some half chances in the first half. Cazorla`s reverse pass found Santos, his low cross was deflected towards his own goal by Bosingwa, Cesar smuggled the ball away with his feet at the second attempt. Wilshere was spreading the play and his pass found Sagna on the right. Ramsey snuck into a corridor of space between Mbia and Traore, Sagna responded with a curling cross which Ramsey headed onto the top of the cross bar. Giroud then tested Cesar with a fulminating strike from the corner of the box which the Brazilian was equal to. Signs of the disjointedness of the team were apparent. Both Podolski and Santos played down the east side of the stadium where I sit and argued constantly during the first half about whom they should be picking up.

Santos is the bête noir of Arsenal fans at the moment, so he gets the blame from most. But I counted three times that Podolski pointed for Santos to mark Taarabt on the inside, leaving Podolski to take Wright Phillips on the outside, before ignoring his own instruction and running exactly where he had told Santos to go. It`s clear that understandings are still being forged within the team. Both appeared to have spoken and devised a more cogent strategy in the second half. But in truth, this was barely a notch above the intrepid fare we had been treated to over the previous seven days.

The second half saw Arsenal liven up significantly and they managed to generate some urgency. Mertesacker`s flicked header from Arteta`s free kick called Cesar into action again in the 50th minute. Arsenal introduced Walcott for a visibly tiring Wilshere, whose opening baby steps back into action were positive. But Walcott`s introduction gave us some of the directness we had been missing. He attempted runs on the shoulder of the full back, tried curling crosses for Giroud. He didn`t do it as well as he is capable of, nor did he do it as badly as we know he is capable of. But it gave QPR something different to think about in their area.

Indeed it was a Walcott cross that fashioned a gilt edged chance for Cazorla. Giroud attacked the cross and, here`s the key thing with Giroud, even if he doesn`t win the header outright, he prevents an emphatic clearance. Mbia could only drop the ball to Cazorla on the penalty spot. The wee Spaniard does seem to have a penchant for lifting his shots too high and this time he sent it into orbit. It was a horrible miss just as Arsenal were toiling. They nearly got lucky when Cazorla`s corner caused panic in the area and Mbia`s attempted clearance hit Bosingwa and flew back towards the Hoops` goal, only for Cesar to make a gravity defying reflex stop.

Arsenal`s cause was helped greatly by the stupidity of the hitherto impressive Mbia. Cazorla`s corner kick drifted out towards the opposite corner flag via a QPR head, Vermaelen and Mbia gave chase. The linesman gave a foul against Vermaelen for a vociferous shoulder charge, but as an act of petty retribution, Mbia kicked out at Vermaelen`s shins and earned himself a quite idiotic red card. Especially as QPR had made their last substitution seconds earlier. It was also one of the few things the referee got right. Anthony Taylor was a quite appalling official. He looked like a kid on work experience with his inconsistent calls and his dizzying trouble with the concept of what ten yards looks like.

With seven minutes to go, fingernails were being gnawed but the Gunners got their slice of fortune. Arshavin made some space for himself from the left and stood up a dawdling cross for Giroud. He attacked with fervour but saw his goalbound header saved by Cesar. Ramsey had the presence of mind to keep the ball alive by toe ending it back into the area. Arteta headed the bouncing ball onto the crossbar, but it fell nicely for him to poke the rebound in from less than a yard. Replays showed Arteta was clearly offside when Ramsey played the ball back into the danger area. At the expense of suspending my Corinthian spirit, you`ll not see me shed any tears for Mark Hughes.

The preceding eight minutes provided more goalmouth incident that the first 82 minutes combined. Ramsey`s vicious first time shot from 20 yards was beaten out well by Cesar. Ramsey found Cazorla in the area as QPR had to commit bodies forward, but Cesar was equal to his curling shot on 88 minutes. But jitters visibly took hold of Arsenal as they became desperate to hold onto the points. Bosingwa`s short free kick to Taarabt on the halfway line caught Arsenal napping, and the Moroccan had all the time in the world to loft a pass over Vermaelen`s head into the path of Granero, but he slid his shot wide. The substitute Jamie Mackie did his best Moses impression, parting Arsenal`s defence as he slalomed between Arteta, Santos and then rounded Vermaelen. He found himself staring into the whites of Mannone`s eyes, but the Italian blocked the close range shot with his knees.

More Arsenal hearts were set a flutter in injury time when Anthony Taylor gave an unbelievable free kick decision against Sagna which QPR didn`t even claim for. The award was on the corner of Arsenal`s box and Granero tried to fool Mannone with a near post shot, but Vito pushed it wide. In the end, the final whistle was greeted with relief more than ecstasy. It`s the sort of game where you get the result, go home and forget the game ever existed come May. We can reasonably point to the stats and say that visiting keeper Julio Cesar was man of the match. That`s a clear improvement on the two shots on target we had produced in the prior 180 minutes. Though it`s true goalscoring responsibility seems to be spreading in the team, I still worry that we aren`t as threatening to teams as we could be. After today`s games we`re officially the stingiest defence in the division. I suppose it`s a matter of getting the balance right. LD.

ARSENAL: 24.MANNONE, 3.SAGNA, 4.MERTESACKER, 5.VERMAELEN (c), 11.A.SANTOS, 8.ARTETA, 10.WILSHERE (14.Walcott `68), 19.S.CAZORLA, 16.RAMSEY, 9.PODOLSKI (27.Gervinho `71, Arshavin `82), 12.GIROUD. Unused: 6.Koscielny, 22.Coquelin, 25.Jenkinson, 38.Martinez.

QPR: 33.JULIO CESAR, 19.BOSINGWA, 17.NELSEN (c), 40.MBIA, 3.TRAORE (15.Onuoha `73), 2.DIAKITE, 16.GRANERO, 22.HOILETT, 11.WRIGHT PHILLIPS (12.Mackie `79), 10.TAARABT, 25.ZAMORA (9.Cisse `73). Unused: 1.Green, 5.Ferdinand, 14.Faurlin, 23.Ephraim.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday October 28 2012

Time: 8:40PM

Your Comments

Good take on the game, LD. About time we got some 'wrong' decisions going our way. I still think Ramsey has gone in for that ball with the QPR defender getting the last touch to Arteta. Not sure how many weeks Gevinho will be out for but hope it gives our other speedy wide men a chance to give us more assured use of the ball. Arshavin or Gnabry can come on as subs in games, to give us directness and width. Our combination play is suffering from a lack of understanding amongst the players. If we an achieve a good blend in the team, we should be stronger.
Good to see the match reports back :). No credit is given to Mannone for the last minute save, I thought it was a really good save considering the nerves involved in a one-on-one. The team as a whole (not only Poldi, but Vermalen as well) need to work better with Santos. He's playing his 1st games of the season so he will take some time to come up to speed, but there is no excuse for his lack of fitness. Poldi has had a few quiet games, so he needs to work out some variations in his playing style to be more effective. Relieved with the 3 points. I'm apprehensive about next weekend against ManU though.
Amazing to see so many Gooners moaning about this result, well not the result but the game over all. Ok, so we didn't play blindingly well, we didn't score till they had a man sent off and then only got one in a home game against the bottom of the league, but a win is a win, and when you're in our position you take all you can get. There's lots of work to be done, but Wenger isn't an idiot, he knows that's not good enough, but it is a platform to build on. However our next league game means he's got to build pretty bloody quickly!
Agree about some fans moan about the performance. Sometimes you have to be happy to win no matter how. Huge plus to have Wilshere, Arteta and Cazorla in the same side - and Walcott coming back to add some real pace upfront. Next week is our biggest test of the season. Hoping the presence of van ****y********* will give us added motivation to not lose at any cost. Would throw on Frimpong just to give him a tasty challenge!
After two defeats, I'll take any win to get some momentum and confidence back. Besides, aren't Arsenal often criticised for not 'winning ugly' and grinding out a result when not playing well? United do it, and it's 'the sign of a great team'.
I fancy us to roll over Utd after this performance, 1-0 I reckon - just like the old days.
It was a decent save from Vito because he stood tall. If only he were as proficient with his hands as with his legs! I also meant to mention that it’s been a while since I’ve done a match report for various reasons, both family and professional. But they should be back up and running again. Harder for me to do Wednesday night games because I have a Thursday deadline on another site. In any case, there will be a Reading one on Wednesday. I still very much fear for next week. I'm not expecting a close game at all to be honest.
Little Dutch
Santos and Mannone at OT would have me ****ting myself, when was the last time we actually had a first choice back 5 up there?
Going to be incredibly tough at OT, Fergie knows he can't afford any slip ups this season with both City and Chelsea about, so will drum into his players to really go for it. Going to require a gargantuan defensive performance from us. We're due a win at OT but difficult to see it. One thing about Wenger though, he always gets the team to try and play without fear. I just wish we could be more compact in these kinds of games and not necessarily play the same way. Would be tempted to play Coquelin instead of Jack.
Seeing the way United came at Chelsea yesterday is bound to give even the most ardent fan a fright, thinking about our prospects at OT. One thing i know though, we play well against United but always get caught on the break because we like to bomb forward in our eagerness to bring back the old times.

This term, we have a more mature side and I hope we can set out to prevent a goal in the 1st half and just let United know they are in a game. By the 60th minute in the 2nd half, we can change tact into offensive mode, introduce pace, pin them back and take our chances. They are beatable and play against us in a different way from Chelsea; only problem now is they know we don't have the dangerous players to hurt them, unless our lads raise their game. It won't be the disaster most look forward to as everyone has a bad day (Spurs beat them at OT, didn't they?).
Stranger things have happened! The 2 goals they scored against chelsea were the same as Gervinho's against them. If you want a better interest rate than the bank you can lump on Van Persie scoring, absolutely no way he won't.
I don’t think we should have sold RvP. He is looking very sharp at the moment and showing that he is the complete Premiership striker. He is banging in goals for United and he is bound to bang in a goal (or two) against us at OT next week. Although we got a fat wad of cash, we apparently sold him for “footballing” reasons but what is the benefit of selling the best Premier League striker to one of our rivals, unless of course, we don’t consider Man U as being one of our rivals. Could it be that we see Spurs, Everton and Newcastle as our main rivals with the prize being fourth spot? As we rue our lack of threat up front, one final year of RvP would have been a much better option for me whilst we wait for Giroud and Podolski to come up to speed. Losing the transfer fee is academic because we don’t need the money do we? It would be sickening to see him score against us but it seems inevitable doesn’t it.
Sir Henry
Cue; he already started singing the boss's praise, putting him on the same pedestal as Fergie (not wrong there), as if to soften the ground for what he is about to do to him. ;-)
Agree completely Henry, the "footballing reasons" is a bit hard to fathom.
Unless the "footballing reasons" are 'he said he'd go on a strop, unsettle the squad, and sulk for a year if we didn't sell him. So it would've been a nightmare to hold onto him, it could've upset a lot of players, cost us heavily on the playing side, in PR, and a massive amount of money'. RvP made the decision to leave, and Arsenal had little choice in the matter. You can't make him sign a contract.
LOL... excellent, goodly good a win is a win, a mark of a good team is when they win despite not looking to, winning ugly is good, its all about the result, etc.... lovin it !!...... bottom table side, home game, 10 men, offside goal in 80th+ minute then surviving 2 chances by same 10-man team... the worst thing wudda been for Arsenal to lose this as the clamour for AW's head woudda been deafening. this way the illusion a 'win' creates will be worth it for the real 4th place contender, simply as it will sustain the stale tactics and mindset for longer than otherwise... not 5th anymore....6th.
Just like Ronaldo a few times under Fergie, still won em the league though.
It's not an illusion, Viyyash, Arsenal won their game. However I don't think you'll find anyone Gooners who are particularly happy with the game/performance. It's just that after two defeats, Arsenal have now picked up a win. 3 points. Most important thing they could've done on the day.

Shewore, I don't think Fergie got three seasons out of Ronaldo after he had decided to leave, do you?I thought that, pretty much as soon as he wanted to go, he signed a pre-contract agreement with Real a few months before the two clubs agreed. What's more, he had years left on his contract. And yes, they were winning things at the time, which certainly helps you to keep players.
if Arse had forced him the (alleged) rapist to stay to contract-end he wudda: taken his foot of the gas and wrapped up in cotton-wool, if ypou then continue to play him you destroy team-morale as players see an undeserved selection of a 'bigname' over team spirit and hardwork.... at least this way you get 22m+ for a 30yr old injury-prone primadonna and put a marker down for others to adhere to.... play Podolski consistently at centre-forward and you get the same quality anywayz, and play 1 of your many talented wideys at leftside.
Viyyash, I agree with that entirely, but am uneasy with it; seeing as you usually post to try to wind people up, what's going on?
You agree that Podolski is the same level of quality as Van Persie? Laughable. I know it would've taken a Ferguson like effort to keep him for at least a season. Viyyash comes over here for attention, he obviously doesn't have any real sort of interaction with football fans.
Well, Viyyash suggested that if you play Poldi there consistently you would get the same quality; which may well be true (we've never seen it, so we can't know; but Poldi looks a natural striker to me, which is incidentally something that Robin was not). I'd like to see Podolski up front for a run, and would try that a million times before I tried Gervinho there. So, pick something else to row about if you really must!

I don't think it would have taken effort to keep him - you'd simply say 'you're staying for the last year of your contract', forfeit the transfer fee and pay his wages for a year while he concentrates entirely on avoiding injury for 6 months before singing a contract for another club. At the cost of £30m, and potentially leaving you unable to come up with the wages and transfer fee for a player or two (so maybe Cazorla and Podolski?). It's just unworkable; Fergie, Wenger, Mourinho - whoever. You just couldn't keep him. It seems to me that he decided he was going - in fact, he put out a press release before the club had approved such a thing telling the world he was leaving - so what can you do?
The only thing that I believe could have been done to keep him is to change our wage structure (or, in other words, 'make multi-millionaire teenagers much richer much quicker in a disgusting, unending race to pay footballers ridiculous sums to do what they love'). I'm glad we have a relatively sensible wage structure, so personally I put maintaining that above the desire to keep players like Robin and Samir.

Other opinions may differ.
Viyyash, QPR may be the bottom placed side today but they do have experienced players in their ranks, including 4 CL winners. You can't scoff at that. Didn't one of the top 3 sides battle them to a scoreless draw a few weeks ago? Ranking counts for nothing these days; it is your form on the day and Arsenal wanted that win more and deservedly, got it.
I agree with you Damiano. RvP made his stay with us untenable by issuing that statement on his site. He already knew the club's stand with regards the wage increase so, he was determined not to allow the club make him out like the 'bad guy' in all of the talks. His movement and close ball skills will be missed but not for the disruptive influence he would have turned out to be.
haha Naija i pointed that our in the pub after Sat, they have some serious medals in that team! Well Damiano i agree that i'd like to see him down the middle ahead of Gervinho (no brainer IMO) but that's where our agreements end, I don't think you can say Van Persie isn't a natural striker, if he isn't, then he's fecking amazing at playing there - you honestly can't tell me podolski would get the same amount playing there. Our wage structure is too flat, some people should earn less (hence why we can't move on most of our dead wood), and some should've earnt more. Although van persie compeltely effed us over with that statement, it came as a bit of surprise considering the club said they had a "very positive" meeting with him, wouldn't you say?
shewore Yeah imagine being happy beating a bottom club by one goal after two games without a win. Pleb.
Little Dutch
We're still discussing whether we should have held onto RvP? Closed chapter guys. I don't think Poldi will flourish in a central striker role - even for the German NT during the peak of his partnership with Klose, he came in off the left. Plus I think we already tried it in one game earlier in the season and it messed with the balance in the side. So, I don't see a change to Poldi's position anytime this season. We (hopefully) have another win vs Reading to look forward to, before we head to OT.
LOL... fall into the well-worn trap wyhy dontcha 'experts'. QPR do have alot of bignames indeed on big wages to match no doubt... what you always fail to note is that collecting alot of bignames will lead to a 'too many cooks' mentality and lead to little 'eamplay and cohesion: they play for their egos and see little point in working hard for 'someone else' to take the credit by scoring etc at match-end.... QPR are a shocking side who gamble far too much on or off the ball as their is no real hunger to 'stick together'.... thats what happens at small clubs with too many bignames (who have already got their medals/glory and are the re mainly to pick up a big wad each week).... 6th.
Viyyash-Ramosh for Poldi 'failing' as striker for Germany, they dont play with 2 central-strikers so Poldi usually played leftside with Muller rightside and Ozil in the hole.... Poldi scored nearly 20 goals last season for a relegation side and still manages a good goal-ratio for Germany without the advantage of playing centrally.
RvP, in his own words, explaining how he's not a natural striker:

“I was hoping to play as a second striker... I never thought I would end up as a main striker,” Van Persie told Arsenal Player. "We only tried it [at Arsenal] when Adebayor went to Manchester City [in 2009].
"The boss didn't buy anyone else because he was convinced I could do it, but I wasn't even convinced I could do it. I had not really played there that much, and I hadn't thought about it much before.
"The boss said, 'I think you can do it, give it a go and see where it ends. Play your normal game, don't go out there to score, go out there to enjoy yourself and help the team'.
“I had a go and then in pre-season we had a game against Inter Milan and I scored good goal and played well, and he told me after the game, 'We will see how it goes, I am 100 per cent sure it will work'.
"Then in my first five or six [league] games I didn't score, I was making assists and playing well, but I didn't score and I thought, 'I am a main striker now, I need to score' and the boss said, 'I don't mind that, as long as you play well for the team, giving assists, the goals will come'.
"When I scored my first goal I then scored seven in seven, with seven assists, so that was quite good. That was my first step to being a main striker."
Incidentally, for club(s) and country, RvP has 149 goals in 335 games; Podolski has 149 goals in 357 games. Interestingly close! You could argue that, as a winger, Poldi has out-scored RvP.
Maybe he's not a natural striker, whatever that is, but he's a natural footballer and goalscorer and is one of the best in the world at playing in the striker's position. I'd love to draw a line under him going there but unfortunately, with him playing against us on Sat, football doesn't work like that.
I think we all know how football works - the Dutch ********'s going to score against us!
tommassi... youre presuming that RvP will be picked ahead of others ;-).....good that you 'scored' last Saturday as being 8pts behind to Spuds by next Monday wudda been too dull already..
Yeah 8 points would have been totally insurmountable. Can't think when Arsenal have ever overturned a gap like that on Spurs before.
Little Dutch
But he needed to continue playing to maintain his market value. He would not have been able to “strop” around because at the time his reputation was on one remarkable, injury free season and the onus would have been for him to build on that. It will be expensive if we don’t qualify for the CL this season and without RvP’s goals it is a very real possibility, based on the paucity of our current strike force. Swings and roundabouts maybe, but to have him waiting in the wings to add some potency to a struggling attack would have been an option worth the lost transfer fee for me.
Sir Henry
There's no way we'd be able to turn a gap like that round against Tottenham again though, last year was purely down to Redknapp. Now they have the genius that is Villas Boas at the helm, it's ridiculous to suggest he wouldn't know how to keep hold of fourth. Did you see his tactical changes against Chelsea when they were leading? Absolute genius, untouchable, that guy.
henry, I suppose we'll never know; I don't think we'd have been able to call on him though. I think - given his record - he would be protecting himself from injury as opposed to giving his all, and what's more, can you play a player who has (internally at least) declared that he's off and he doesn't want to play for us any more? Can you give him the captain's armband? Can you take the armband off him and still play him? I'd say 'no' to them all. I don't think he'd have to play for those 6 months to maintain a value; besides, if United were prepared to pay 24m for him when they did, would they not be happy to pay him personally, say, 10m when he's available to sign for free, and take a 'gamble' that in those 6 months he hasn't changed from being the premier league's top scorer to someone with no value?
Damiano all those points you make would appear to be fine ones, but Fabregas did all of those things & dragged us into 4th knowing full well he was off, and Wenger did as well.
Absolutely completely utterly different situation, Shewore. And you know it.
Errr, how? Fabregas wanted a move, he got one, he just didn't release any statements to the press through twitter. To say their utterly different is completely inaccurate. One just managed his relationship with Arsenal fans a more pragmatic fashion.
Well you've already mentioned one difference - RvP released a statement that made it near-on impossible to keep him at the club. "we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward. I’ve thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract". So, you know at that point for a fact that he won't be there beyond his contract - as does every other club (reducing his value, selfishly). You also need to deal with the disciplinary side of things, as this release goes against club policy.
Further, RvP made this statement at the end of a transfer window, which will also reduce the fee (selfishly), and leaves the club less time to find a replacement (although we had already bought two left-footed strikers by that point!). Cesc moved to a club that we (pretty much) knew, as soon as he became a proper footballer, he would one day return to. Cesc gave far more notice - you could argue 4 years notice - of his intention. Never forced the move with public comments. Didn't move to another premier league club. Hadn't made his mind up before the start of a season that he was leaving. Picture RvP playing for Arsenal against ManUtd in the last half the season, knowing he'll be going there next year; does he give his absolute best for Arsenal, put his body on the line, score against his future employers, damage their season? Does he b*ll*cks.
theres a pattern which has dominantly emerged that all yous are desperate to ignore: without the short-term illusion that Diaby gave to Arsenal's thin veneer of resurgence, its quite obvious that you lack the potency to consistently score under pressure and can wilt quite dramatically (even when in drawn situations) and the belief...despite the nice passing and nice pseudo-intent... flags dramatically with the following quality - you simply cannot bombard teams like genuine big teams can when in losing/drawn periods.... the increasing realisation of this staleness will be self-reinforcing and the team will be struggling by January.... deep down you sense this too, but dare not admit to it, even individually to yourselves...6th.
I think Fabregas actually had his made his mind up that he was moving, all season he knew he was off, unless we won the treble or something like that - you'd be mad to think he didn't know he was off when he was captaining our football club. Van Persie definitely didn't make that statement at the end of the transfer window, but that's not the point, the only difference is the fact that he made the statement, openly forcing us to sell. Fabregas definitely forced the move through, but as I say, did it in a lot more publicity friendly way.
How did Fabregas force a move, do you think?
force a move, angled for a move, its all semantics really.... if a big player admits to not wanting to play for the club anymore and wants to move its like pulling a plaster off a hairy patch of skin.... you can do it slowly but its usually best to keep some dignity and sell quickly at the best price as long as its a competitive one.... 1 or 2 players do not make the club.
Much the same way as 99% of modern footballers do it Damiano. Van Persie was a massively rare case as he completely forced the hand through the statement, Fabregas had wanted to go for a while, but had a good relationship with the club, didn't burn his bridges, and picked up his loyalty money as well. The point is though that they both wanted to move, and both got their way, they just went about it differently.
I'm all in favour of players getting moves with 6 months notice, or without notice if on last yr of contract.... its time everyone started trwating players the same way any employee is treated (whether on permanent or fixed-term contracts).... RvP did the right thing by maximising his chances for a quick move, loyalty should mean little as fans/coaches have little loyalty when they want players to move even when they have performed well eg. Chamakh's insulting reputation with the fans... well done RvP, too bad you lacked the bottle to do the same Fabric-ass and missed out on earlier promotion.

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