As per usual, we made a home match much more work on ourselves than need be. We had lots of pressure at the ends of both halves but only came away with a 1-0 win. That’s not to say I’m complaining about the win, because at this point this time kind of needs hard fought wins to “learn” how to win that way, but we certainly could’ve won this match 3-1, 4-1 given all the chances and pressure we had.
Arsène Wenger decided to start the full first eleven save for Arshavin playing in Gervinho’s regular spot and continuing with van Persie amidst speculation the Dutchman would be rested at some point during the holiday period.
Queen’s Park Rangers, which neither consists of queens, a park, nor any rangers, played well at times and for their part looked dangerous on occasion came to play a bit which is a nice change from years past and certain other teams who come to the Emirates and look to park the bus. Other than a blatant dive by Adel Taarabt (ashes to ashes we all fall down!) looking for a penalty and the perpetually pain-in-the-duff, Joey Barton, full credit goes to QPR for playing some football/soccer.
The first half started fairly even with both teams looking a little dangerous on the counter. We started to take control of the match as the half wore on and by the end of the first stanza had pinned QPR back in their own half but could find nothing from a succession of corners and shots and it began to look like a day when, much like last time out against Wolves, where we’d end up ruing chances not taken yet again.
This lack of finishing came to a head early in the second half when Theo Walcott completely blew a golden chance when clean through on Radek Cerny in QPR’s goal by a lovely Aaron Ramsey pass. Theo didn’t look comfortable and pushed his shot wide left of the near post. If Theo ever wants to play central striker full time, he simply can not blow chances like this. It was a shocking miss to be quite honest.
Thankfully, the man in red hot form, Robin van Persie, stepped up to the plate and finished smartly on the hour mark. A poor QPR giveaway in their own half eventually saw Andrei Arshavin place an exquisite little ball into the box just beyond a defender for van Persie to run on to and fire home low with his marksman-like left foot. RvP’s goal makes 35 for the calender year, breaking Henry’s club record and sees him finish one behind Alan Shearer’s top division record.
Aaron Ramsey fired just a yard over a few minutes later and Gervinho missed at the near post from inside the 6-yard box when he should’ve scored for the remaining near misses of the match.
We definitely made hard work for ourselves on the attacking end not taking the remaining chances and QPR also had a handful of good blocks inside the box on a few of our other shots. However, I thought once again we defended pretty well again at the back despite QPR looking dangerous at times.
Also, worryingly, Thomas Vermaelen came off limping early in the second half and had to be replaced by Francis Coquelin, who is doing his best Mathieu Flamini impersonation as a midfielder who is doing a good job being forced into emergency fullback duty.
So, the win takes us up into 4th place as Chel$ki lost 3-1 at The Bridge to Aston Villa. In other morsels of schadenfreude, Man U lost at Old Trafford and on Alex Ferguson’s birthday to bottom of the table Blackburn Rovers, 3-2, and Sp*rs “lost” to Swansea, 1-1!
Wojcicech Szczesny (7); Another assured performance by Szcz. Didn’t really have to do too much but made saves when he did have to and assuredly claimed his defended set pieces.
Johann Djourou (6.5); Djourou defended well and even had a cheeky, attacking run cutting inside and nearly put van Persie through in on goal.
Per Mertesacker (6.5); Per did ok but I’ll bump him up to a 6.5 because he had a crucial interception late in the match on a QPR through ball.
Laurent Koscielny (6.5); Kos did well and escaped a booking on a foul of Shaun Wright-Phillips when match official, Martin Atkinson, mistakenly booked Vermaelen for the challenge.
Thomas Vermaelen (6); did ok but wasn’t as effective on the left as he had been against Wolves. Unfortunately limped off early in the second half with a knock.
Alexandre Song (6.5); was much better today than in the last couple of matches. Even popped up in the box a few times but still is a bit too lazy with his passes for me sometimes.
Aaron Ramsey (7); Played much better than recently and looked like missing last start with a given rest, re-energized the Welshman. Passing was terrific today and nearly scored with a long-range effort.
Mikel Arteta (6.5); Same old, same old. Nothing too spectacular from Mikel but rarely put a pass or foot wrong today.
Theo Walcott (4.5); Easily the goat of today’s match. Had two glaring misses with one in each half. The second half miss when 1 v 1 with Cerny was shockingly bad for someone who wants to be a central striker. I’d sit Theo next time out, honestly.
Robin van Persie (7); Van the Man scored our goal and scored it with aplomb. What more can be said at this point? He’s the only regular goalscorer we have at the moment but when he scores as many as he does, the critics can bite me.
Andrei Arshavin (6.5); the little Russian did pretty well today. After catching a stray elbow from Adel Taarabt in the 1st half I feared Andrei might disappear and he was average for most of the match but his pass led to the goal and at times was much more effective than he has been for most of the year.
Francis Coquelin (6.5); did very well at left back after coming on for Vermaelen and both defended well and got forward on numerous occasions.
Tomas Rosicky (6.5); Tomas nearly scored late on but for a good block by Luke Young. Looks like his role from here on out at Arsenal is as a sub and spot starter.
Gervinho (6); was shifty and dangerous again but I’m downgrading him to a 6 (probably should be a 5.5, honestly) because he missed two good chances to score and blew another half chance after coming on.