Queen’s Park Rangers 0 – Arsenal 1 (Walcott 1)
Man of the Match – Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)
Tetchy. Tiring. Boring. And yes painful to watch. Extremely painful to watch. There is something about the lower placed teams that they come up with the goods when it comes to facing Arsenal.
They always manage to provide an intense, physical battle, making it hard for Arsenal to play their natural, free-roaming, running through the channels game. Already relegated QPR made it an extremely hard game for Arsenal to endure, on a bright late Saturday evening kick-off at Loftus Road.
Nacho Monreal returned to the starting lineup in place of Kieran Gibbs, in keeping with Arsene Wenger’s policy of playing the Spaniard in away games and the Englishman in home games. Lukas Podolski started up front again, and there was no place yet again for Jack Wilshere, with the manager keeping faith in the quartet of Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky and Cazorla.
Queen’s Park Rangers had a host of Tottenham connections, with Jermaine Jenas, Andros Townsend and Bobby Zamora, who has a knack of scoring against Arsenal, all starting. Oh, and there was Mr. Harry Twitchy Redknapp as well.
Arsenal started off just like they had against Manchester United. Scoring in the opening minutes. Er, in this case, minute rather. There was almost no opposition as Arsenal advanced straight after kick-off, and ex-Arsenal left back Armand Traore proved why he was moved on by the Gunners with a piss poor header.
The ball fell to the feet of Rosicky, who managed to play in Arteta, who in turn set up Walcott in between two QPR defenders, and the striker made no mistake and scored past Green. 1-0 to Arsenal, with barely even 30 seconds gone on the clock.
After that, it was more of a cagey affair between the two London sides, on a cramped pitch. Walcott had another great opportunity on the half hour mark, when his shot squirmed past Green, who got minimum contact, but it only struck the post and wriggld out.
Andros Townsend was giving Nacho Monreal a pretty rugged afternoon, with some intelligent running. He set up chances for Bobby Zamora and Park Ji-Sung, but they both failed to take their opportunities.
QPR didn’t look like a side already relegated, as Arsenal failed to convince their detractors that they could actually be title challengers next season, with a dour performance. Rangers used their physical presence all over the pitch to hassle the Gunners.
Loic Remy was making intelligent runs, but Mertesacker had the wily Frenchman well covered, while Laurent Koscielny kept a close eye on the ever dangerous Zamora. It was Andros Townsend, who was looking the most dangerous, with his swerving long range shot, testing Wojciech Szczesny.
Going forward, Arsenal were struggling, with attacks breaking down far too often for the visitor’s comfort. Lukas Podolski looked ineffectual as the lone man up front, while Theo Walcott was only showing momentary glimpses of his pace, but failed to make any decisive impact.
Remy forced two fine saves from Szczesny late on, as the game ended in a narrow Arsenal win. A goal within 30 seconds and over 92 minutes of mediocrity would perfectly sum up Arsenal’s last London derby of the season.
Elucidating Arsenal’s positives is going to be a pretty tough job. Firstly, garnering 3 points despite being in a sticky situation for so long is something that seems to be the norm now. Arsenal now have gathered 3 away 1-0 wins since the start of the year, at Sunderland, Fulham and QPR, all tough places to go to.
Secondly, Walcott has gotten to 21 goals this season, and while he may not have the real decisive impact that the traitor had last season, it definitely is a sign that the Englishman can deliver the goods when required.
Lastly, a word for the defence, that has now let in just 1 goal in the last 4 games, a penalty made and scored by the traitor. There seems to be a solid understanding between the pair of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, and the rotation at the left-back slot seems to be keeping both Gibbs and Monreal fit and fresh. There have been question marks raised over the performance of Bacary Sagna, but let’s keep in mind he has been Arsenal’s most consistent player for many years now!
The biggest positive is that Arsenal absolutely needed to win their last 3 games, especially after Gareth Bale scored a beauty against Southampton to help Sp*rs to a narrow 1-0 win at White Hart Lane. 1 down, 2 to go. Hopefully Wigan will be absolutely knackered after their game against Swansea and the FA Cup final against Manchester City. Too bad they are in a relegation quagmire.
Jai Arsenal 🙂