Queen’s Park Rangers 0 v Arsenal 1: Walcott’s early strike enough as Gunners take important three points [Report & Video Highlights]
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Despite the fact we were playing a relegated team, nobody should have expected a walk in the park. If we didn’t take statistics that said we hadn’t won two consecutive times over QPR since 1991, than the reverse fixture in which we took all three points only thanks to Arteta’s late goal from an offside should have been a proper warning. QPR are not without quality but they got into problems thanks to a lack of organization on the field and off the field, when they were signing players only because their names sounded familiar.
We didn’t receive good news before the match – just before our match started the Spuds won against Southampton thanks to late goal from Gareth Bale, which was an additional burden on our back. We had to win to maintain our distance between from the Spuds with their game in hand being the visit to Stamford Bridge in which they will decide who is uglier.
Arsene Wenger had a turbulent week in which he had to rubbish off rumours that saw him near Paris Saint-Germain and answer the questions regarding his future at Arsenal given that his contract expires next year. He made one change to the team that drew against FAnchester United and it was in the full-back position. However, despite some Gooners expecting Jenkinson to take Sagna’s place in the starting 11 after the Frenchman’s awful performance against United, it was Nacho Monreal who replaced Kieran Gibbs on the other side of our defense. Personally, I hoped for that as I think Cazorla looks better with Monreal behind him.
The start of the game reminded me of the one against FAnchester United. The ball went to Rosicky on the right flank, near the byline. He had cut the ball back to Arteta. The Spaniard nudged it to Walcott who took a shot. It wasn’t the most precise shot ever but it was strong enough to prevent Robert Green from saving it. It was the fastest goal this season, the fastest goal ever that Arsenal have scored in the Premiership and Walcott’s thirteenth goal in Premiership this season.
For some time it didn’t look like it would be difficult to preserve the lead. We were the ones that controlled the ball and were the closest to making something happen. After a few unsuccessful attempts, it was Theo Walcott who again found himself presented with a wonderful opportunity. The English winger took a shot from almost the same spot he had scored from earlier after Rosicky released him. His low shot hit the near post and deflected to Green. It took only a few minutes for QPR to show signs of life. Zamora – who seems to look like a decent striker only when he plays against us – flicked the ball to Ji-Sung Park – another jinx player for us – who fired a shot just over the bar, while Ben-Haim had a drive from a long distance. It looked like our players don’t enjoy playing on the sunny side of the pitch – the one that belonged to R’s. The hosts had the last attempt in the first half as well after Sagna made a foul 2o meters from goal. Townsend – the best player of the hosts today by a mile – took a shot with his left foot but it went wide.
Townsend was the last one to take a shot in the first half and the first one in the second, but this time Sczszesny was forced to make a decent save. Koscielny finally made some problems for Green but his shot wasn’t too dangerous. It looked like we were back in the game as Cazorla fired a shot from the left side that forced a decent Green save. Still, some of our players were crying for substitutions as they looked tired (mostly Podolski and Rosicky). Wenger kept his cards in his pocket for the last five minutes. Before that, Walcott could spare some Gooners’ nerves but his shot was saved by Green again. On the other side of the pitch, with seven minutes to go, Remy had the best chance for the home team. He was on the Henry-part of the D-area when he curled the ball to the left corner of our goal. Sczszesny made a wonderful save to preserve our lead. That finally called Wenger into action as Podolski, Cazorla and Rosicky left the pitch in favour of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere and Vermaelen respectively.
We managed to keep the three points and to celebrate our fifth consecutive away victory in all competitions (Bayern, Swansea, West Brom, Fulham, QPR).
And that’s the only important thing from today’s game. It wasn’t the best performance but it was worthy of three points. Now we’ll have to wait for ten days before the next match against a Wigan side that is going to face Manchester Oilers in the FA Cup Final next Saturday. The match against Wigan will be a very tough match given that Wigan usually look unbeatable when the season approaches the end and they have to take as many points as they can get to survive in the Premiership. We will know what is expected from us in that match as the Chavs will play three and the Spuds two matches until that Tuesday so, if things go well, we might secure a Champions’ League spot with three points against Wigan.
on the result…
We scored early and started well. After that, QPR played with quality and pride. They were fearless. You could see that this side had played with special pressure and fear in recent months. They had the quality to stay in the Premier League and they made life difficult for us. We had good determination and focus. We lacked a few final balls in the final third. But I expected a difficult game and I was not disappointed. Sometimes when a team goes down they played well in the game after and win. You could see that as Reading won away from home. We need a special focus to win this game.
on concerns on the performance…
The pitch did not help. I believe that QPR are a better team than people expects. But we did not give many chances away. Overall we played a little bit conscious that points were vital and we could not make any mistake. It was detrimental to our offensive game but we had a sound defensive game today.
on this result affecting Chelsea on Sunday…
It puts you under pressure because you have to make a result. But Chelsea play a lot and when you have many, many games you don’t think about it. You just go into the next one. That is the advantage. When you have a week to wait the nerves can play a bigger part.
on if Tottenham scoring late on was in the players’ minds before the game…
I knew the score but for us it’s the same if Tottenham draw or win. We have to win our game. We can only focus on what is needed for us – win the game and prepare for the next one. We’ve done that for a long time now. We’re on a very strong run and we’re up for it. We’re ready for a fight and the team is highly focused to do it.
on Walcott reaching 20 goals for the season…
He is 24 now. He’s a mature player. He has improved his finishing. He has improved his ability to resist to pressure from the opponent. It was a similar goal to the one he scored on Sunday against Man United.
on concerns about Podolski…
He has no injury problem. It’s only his second game now up front. We have to give him a bit of time.
on if momentum will play a crucial role…
We definitely have momentum. If you look at the points we have made compared to two months ago. We are going for it and we make the points. Away from home recently, we’ve won everywhere – at Fulham, at Sunderland, at Swansea and at QPR. It [was a] derby which was difficult to win.
on Tottenham and Chelsea playing multiple times before Arsenal take to the field next…
I cannot even tell you what the result I wish [for]. Of course I want a result that goes for us, but again, it’s not because I wish something that you will get the result. A long time ago we focused on us getting the maximum points. We have nearly done that because we dropped two points against Everton and two points against Man United. Apart from that, we’ve won every single game and we have to continue to do that.
on if he can remember Arsenal scoring as quickly as Walcott did…
No. I can’t remember. Unfortunately I waited for the second goal but it never came!
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Monreal
Arteta (c) Ramsey