A win is a win is a win, the boys made hard work of it but we came out from a horrible week with the three points on the board. Even the best win ugly from time to time and given the low confidence throughout the team of late those points gained against queens park rangers will go a long way towards restoring our lost mojo. The weather was cold, the rain was spitting down and such factors were enough to add to the frustrated vibes felt by the fans. We needed something to raise our hopes; I had mentioned in yesterday’s blog that I was worried a scapegoat would be picked out from the game if things didn’t go to plan. The names I had mentioned were Gervinho, Andre Santos and Vito Mannone. The current bad feeling had me fearing a repeat of the booing that greeted Emmanuel Eboue a few seasons back.
From my list Gervinho wasn’t selected in the starting line up so that saved him from the venom of the frustrated fans if he misplaced a pass. It seems Santos was the focus of most frustration; at times it was down to some parts of his game but given the negativity he has received over the past week he was blamed when things weren’t his fault. Such is the life of a footballer he is going through a bad period right now so he will need to work that extra bit harder to win back the fans confidence. His partnership with Podolski on the left hand side hasn’t clicked so far and so in comparison to Keiran Gibbs he is in the side by default rather than merit. His confidence does seem low at the moment and that was evident from his body language, fans in the stands are less forgiving and are sure to let you know how they feel about your performance with a few expletives thrown in. If we did not manage to win the game I am sure our cuddly Brazilian would have received the criticism full barrel at full time.
Mannone came though the game with little incident if I recall, when he came out for the balls in the box he made sure he connected. I remember one mis-kick in the second half but the ball still reached an arsenal player. He actually ensured our victory with an excellent block in the last minute of the game.
I guess I have so far ignored one of the most important factors from yesterday’s game, which was the bold decision by Arsene to start Wilshere against QPR. Our midfield gem has not featured for the first team in over 18 months and it was a surprise to many Wenger took the risk. Bacary Sagna was also restored to the line up at the expense of Carl Jenkinson and I can probably see the psychological boost Wenger tried to bring to the team by adding our two long term absentees.
It was especially great to see Jack back in the team and he slotted into the midfield seamlessly. His class was evident for all to see: the trademark gliding past his man, the deft flicks and control were all still there and gave the fans a reminder of what we have missed for the past year and a half. To be honest the performances of Jack and Bacary were the only positive from a very flat performance from the team. We really struggled to take the game to QPR and although the threat of losing a goal was under control many of our attacks just didn’t get going. The times when we did carve out a chance Julio Cesar was on top form to thwart anything that came near his goal.
I feel from our starting 11 we lacked the required pace needed to stretch the QPR back four; we really struggled to get in behind their defence and made it slightly easier for them to defend against. As with all teams Mark Hughes brings to the emirates he ensured his players would frustrate at every opportunity, there was time-wasting even during the first half. This riled the home crowd and was surely part of Hughes plan to turn the fans against their team; the longer the game went on the more likely the fans would turn on the players.
For all the good Podolski and Ramsey can do on the ball they don’t possess the pace to really give the full back something to think about. The arsenal attack was screaming out for something to inject some new impetus. That came when Wenger finally introduced the returning Theo Walcott into action, Gervinho was added soon after and the change brought about instant results. Now the QPR team were forced further back, their fullbacks were kept on their toes and the chances came for the arsenal.
Although we looked more likely to score in the game the real turning point was the sending off of M’bia. The defender was deservedly red carded after stupidly lashing out at Thomas Vermaelen after initially winning a free kick after a tussle. That played right into our hands and the extra man advantage only added to the pressure on the QPR defence. Julio Cesar was on a one man mission to prevent an arsenal victory as he pulled off some excellent reflex saves to keep the score line level. At times it seemed like it just wouldn’t be our day as the ball would bounce and ricochet anywhere but into the back of the net. Finally the goal came courtesy of Mikel Arteta and I don’t think I have witnessed a scruffier goal before. Cesar managed to fling himself to deny a Giroud header as the ball bounced out Ramsey fired in a shot which deflected and looped in the air, Arteta got his head to the ball only for it to bounce of the bar, when the ball dropped the Spaniard was first to it to poke it hope from literally on the line.
There was a massive sigh of relief from the whole of the emirates that we finally took the lead. All we needed to do was retain possession and see out the last 5 or so minutes against the ten men. Easier said than done, as is the arsenal way we still managed to present QPR with two clear cut chances. They really should have taken one of their chances but for arsenals benefit I’m glad they didn’t.
On reflection it was important on so many levels that we got the three points in this game, with a trip to old Trafford next week to continue the bad run of results could have been the worst preparation going into the game. The midweek game against Reading holds no relevance as the squad for that game will probably not include any players that will start against united. I don’t even think Jack who has long been mooted to play in the Capital One game will be involved now after his appearance yesterday. We have a week where I hope we will get some positive news on the returns of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Diaby and Gervinho who was stretchered off yesterday. We have some unfinished business from last season we need to address with the boys from Manchester and Jack just might swing things in our favour.
Enjoy your day people.
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