Olivier Giroud and Alexis Hand Arsenal Three Points at Loftus Road


With really only Chelsea playing a side which you thought they might drop points against and Southampton already getting a victory yesterday, Arsenal went into their matchup with Queens Park Rangers in need of the 3 points. Goals from Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez saw Arsenal through to victory, but it was not entirely straight forward.

The first 5 minutes or so of the match gave the impression that we may be in for another dull affair like the one at the weekend.  Around the 15th minute though QPR began to dominate.

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They began to press hard and frustrate our possession, something which seems to work rather well against us for whatever reason, and also get some decent chances on goal.

Going into the match Arsenal would surely have been aware of the physical challenge of QPR forward Bobby Zamora, but that did not seem to help Gabriel as he got bullied constantly by the striker.

This dynamic came to a head when he was rather easily shoved off the ball just outside the box by Zamora. The ball ricocheted lightly away from goal, but fell to the feet of none other than Charlie Austin.  The Rangers striker ripped a laser at the Arsenal goal, but it was straight at Ospina and he had no problem handling it.

Almost immediately afterwards a long ball forward found Olivier Giroud in the QPR box but the angle was too tight for the Frenchman and he laid it off and the chance came to nothing.

QPR struck with the next chance in the 37th.  Charlie Austin found himself with the ball right outside the Arsenal penalty area.  He switched direction from left to right on a dime and let loose on goal.  The shot was only inches wide and would have caught Ospina flat-footed had it been on target.

Right before the half, Santi Cazorla almost bagged a “Wilshere, Norwhich-esque” goal.  5 or 6 touches right around the QPR box from Giroud, Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez, including a clever headed pass from Cazorla saw his shot grabbed by a decent save from QPR keeper, Rob Green, but it was damn close and would have been damn pretty.

Even though Arsenal had finished the last 20 minutes of the half in a dominating fashion, the two sides went into the tunnel tied up at 0-0 with QPR surely being the more satisfied of the teams.

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Arsenal continued their form from the end of the first half and came out of the gates in the second half firing on all cylinders. The first chance of the half came on the end of a brilliant run from Tomas Rosicky who did well to beat an out of form Sandro all the way down the pitch on the right side.  Rosicky put a low cross into the box which fell to the feet of Mesut Ozil.  Unfortunately for Arsenal fans, Karl Henry got away with a clear penalty as he pulled Ozil back off balance and the shot went over the crossbar.

Arsenal finally got their reward for a their supremacy in the 64th when Alexis went on a blazing run towards goal. The Chilean found Kieran Gibbs with a nice sideways through ball and Gibbs continued his run in on goal.  Gibbs then attempted a pass but it was deflected by the QPR defense. Fortunately the defection fell to the boots of Giroud who tucked it home, no problem.  Always good to see Giroud score and he continues to continue his fantastic run of form…except in the Champions League.

Arsenal doubled their lead only 5 minutes later on the end of an exquisite bit of skill from Alexis.  Sanchez got the pass just outside the left side of the QPR box and began to dribble towards the near post.  After getting 7 or 8 yards away from goal Alexis changed direction and slammed in the goal near post, past 2 defenders and the QPR keeper, who was in good position.  After a streak of 7 matches without appearing on the scoresheet it was great to see Alexis bag another.  If he can recreate his form from the first half of the season we should have no problem securing Champion’s League football for next campaign.

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After Arsenal’s second, QPR seemed to regain a bit of their ferocity, combined with Arsenal’s desire to see out the match. QPR then had more freedom to go forward and nicked one back in the 82nd.

Charlie Austin, who really was superb on the day, found himself on the end of a cross on the edge of the Arsenal box. He once again let the shot fly and this time the ball found the back of the net.  In hindsight Austin probably did deserve a goal on the day, and it came in magnificent fashion.

In typical Arsenal style, we the supporters could not be left too comfortable at the end of a match.  QPR did all they could to get the equalizer, but despite their pressure and almost a full minute after the added 4, the 3 points were officially all awarded to the Gunners.

My standout performers of the day would have to be Alexis, Ozil, and

the man in the plastic mask,

Francis Coquelin. Both Alexis and Ozil were positive and influential on the ball all day.  Even though only one got a goal when both of them should have, they both showed great skill and touch and with Ozil in particular it is good to see him continuing with his good form. Maybe it is the boss playing him consistently in the middle.

Francis once again bossed the midfield.  He provided defensive cover when needed (which was a lot as Gibbs was forward all match) and was actually rather encouraging when he was forward with the ball as well.  He was one I’ve been waiting to drop off, but hopefully and maybe he has finally proven me wrong and found his place in our team for good.

“We were all down after the Monaco game, but we responded well against Everton, and the confidence we got against Everton paid off tonight.”- Arsene Wenger

Arsenal once again found a way to grab the win.  The Monaco result rightfully had most Arsenal supporters worried, but the side bounced back in impressive fashion and I think we might be past it.

We’ve got Manchester United away in the FA Cup for our next fixture and I really think we should come away with a victory.  We have responded well to the Monaco result, we totally outclassed them at our place even though they they won, and the Manchester side has been barely scraping by as of late.  I know I’m only dreaming, but if we get a good result at Old Trafford… who knows what can happen in Monaco.  Let’s keep the faith. (#COYG)

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