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Arsenal 1 Queens Park Rangers 0

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.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Sunday October 28 2012
Time: 8:40PM


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.
28/10/2012 21:22:00
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.
29/10/2012 08:15:00
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!
29/10/2012 08:17:00
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!
29/10/2012 09:10:00
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'.
29/10/2012 09:37:00
I fancy us to roll over Utd after this performance, 1-0 I reckon - just like the old days.
29/10/2012 09:40:00
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
29/10/2012 09:58:00
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?
29/10/2012 10:18:00
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.
29/10/2012 11:09:00
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?).
29/10/2012 12:21:00
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