Arsenal 1 - 0 QPR: match report

Shaun Botterill

Arsenal scraped a 1-0 victory against QPR today in a mostly sub-par affair at the Emirates. Here's how it all went down.

1 - 0 Mikel Arteta 84'

Arsenal struggled for much of the match today as they have in their past two to break down QPR, but after the introduction of Theo Walcott and Andrei Arshavin in the second, they looked more lively and finally found a breakthrough against Julio Cesar in the 84th minute to seal up the three points at the Emirates today and get back on track.

It didn't start out very smoothly, though. In the early going, Arsenal were finding some room up the left flank of Jose Bosignwa, Jack Wilshere crossing low for nobody after four minutes, and four minutes later, a Podolski cross forced Julio Cesar into some creative floor-bound goalkeeping. Bacary Sagna picked out Aaron Ramsey with cross on 10 minutes, but Ramsey's effort bounced up off the crossbar.

Arsenal were in control as the first half ticked past without generating too much threat, but there were occasional flashes--Olivier Giroud causing problems on the right before his cross was smothered by Julio Cesar; Jack Wilshere combining with Santi Cazorla before letting a shot go that Cesar had a bit of a scramble to contain.

The tempo was evaporating off the top, though, as the 30th minute approached, and QPR were trying to find a way through an Arsenal defense that was a bit stand-offish. Giroud had a shot from distance that again Cesar couldn't control, but again no Arsenal player was there to pounce on the rebound. Jack Wilshere was crushed, but there was no call. Anthony Taylor made up for it a minute later on a foul on Giroud, and Arsenal had a free kick from 25 yards.

Lukas Podolski hit the wall with it, however.

Three minutes later, Arsenal had a couple of bites on the counter, but both times, players in the middle couldn't make contact with a shot. Five minutes remained in the half. Five minutes where the best Arsenal could muster was a weak Andre Santos shot from the left that Cesar took easily.

Halftime arrived; pretty flat stuff, continuing the pattern.

The second half started off about the same as the first; Arsenal won a free kick on 51 minutes which Mikel Arteta swung in, Per Mertesacker's header palmed away by Cesar. QPR had a good chance on 55 minutes, but Andre Santos stepped up just in time to spring the offside trap before Junior Hoilett put his shot home. Aresnal won another free kick a minute later in a dangerous position, Esteban Granero booked for his trouble. Santi Cazorla's free kick was not good.

Granero caught Arteta on the 58th minute, and was lucky not to have earned another yellow. It was another free kick for Arsenal. This time Giroud, of all people, took it, and hit the wall. Giroud earned a yellow for a foul on Traore that wasn't actually a foul at all, but Anthony Taylor is a bad referee, so it was a yellow.

QPR were looking a little more lively all of a sudden, and Vermaelen had to head away a Shaun Wright-Phillips cross before Bobby Zamora could get to it, and a minute later, Bacary Sagna made a last-ditch tackle against Adel Taarabt. Jack Wilshere departed on 67 minutes for Theo Walcott. Ramsey would move back to the middle.

Arsenal looked a little better, and had some chances to attack on the 69th minute, but it ended when Arteta shot poorly from distance. Gervinho came on for Podolski. Djibril Cisse came on for Bobby Zamora. 78 minutes in, Cazorla was presented with a golden chance as a blocked shot fell to him from 12 yards, but he skied his effort over the bar. A minute later, Gervinho hurt himself trying to cross. Jamie Mackie came on for Wright-Phillips.

Podolski came off for Andrei Arshavin.

Vermaelen fouled Stephane M'Bia a minute later, and then M'bia did a silly thing, lashing out at Vermaelen and earning a straight red for his trouble. QPR would play the last ten minutes a man short.

Chaos erupted in the QPR box from the free kick, Cesar making a hilariously good save. A minute later, it finally happened.

Arshavin made a delightful cross to Giroud, whose header Cesar saved brillantly again. Arteta headed the rebound off the crossbar, and for a moment it looked like Arsenal were just never going to score for the remainder of recorded history, but then Arteta's own rebound fell to him again and he finally drove it home. It was possibly offside, but it was all a bit chaotic.

1-0 Arsenal, Arteta, 84 minutes in. Praise be.

Aaron Ramsey had a good effort from 20 yards turned around the post by Cesar three minutes later as Arsenal went in search of a second. Cazorla tried a minute later; Cesar, again, was there at the far post.

But this is Arsenal, so QPR would have another chance. Taarabt flighted a ball over the top which Granero ran onto, and he pushed his shot just wide of the far post. A big letoff. Two minutes later, Jamie Mackie bamboozled Santos and was in all alone from two yards, but Vito Mannone was on hand to deny him. QPR had a free kick a minute later, and nearly scored from that. Arshavin, though, was tracking back and on the case.

It was really, really, sticky stuff.

The final whistle finally went, and Arsenal had escaped. It wasn't pretty, but three points were in the bag.


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