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Arsenal 2-1 QPR: Match Report

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Goals from Alexis Sánchez and Tomas Rosicky gave Arsenal the 3 points, but they had to work far harder for it than they should've.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

1-0 Alexis 37' 
Red Card Giroud 53'
2-0 Rosicky 53'
2-1 Austin (p) 79'

Arsenal returned to winning ways on Boxing Day with a 2-1 victory over relegation battlers QPR, but made the job far harder for themselves than it needed to be. Tomas Rosicky started his first Premier League game of the season, and Nacho Monreal returned to centre back as Arsène Wenger made two changes to the side that drew 2-2 at Anfield last Sunday.

Arsenal started brightly, with QPR unable to get out of their own half. With QPR playing five at the back, Arsenal's fullbacks were encouraged to get forward, and did to great effect. On 8 minutes, Kieran Gibbs drove forward, and after some pinball in the penalty box, Alexis Sánchez was taken down by Armand Traore. Surprisingly, Alexis, not Santi Cazorla or Olivier Giroud, took the penalty, and a weak effort to Robert Green's left was easily saved by the former England man.

Arsenal continued to probe but couldn't put much together aside from a Giroud free kick that was well saved until the 37th minute. A nice move between Rosicky, Welbeck and Cazorla sent Gibbs away on the left, and his cross was met by the diving head of Alexis to give Arsenal the lead.

Arsenal started the second half brightly, but that spark was shut out quickly after Olivier Giroud was sent off for idiotically headbutting Nedum Onuoha. Giroud was chasing a ball when Onuoha pushed him towards the onrushing Rob Green. Giroud turned around, and instead of directing his anger in a different direction, rashly put his forehead towards Onuoha, and was rightly sent off. Instead of a comfortable second half, Arsenal were down to 10, meaning more running for everyone.

Arsenal sat deeper, and got a second goal on the counter attack. Alexis drove forward brilliantly, attracting the QPR defence, before sliding a pass towards the onrushing Rosicky, who sidefooted past Green for his first goal of the season. It looked as if Arsenal may see out the match with little issue, but Junior Hoillet went over the outstretched leg of Mathieu Debuchy, and although the Frenchman got a good touch on the ball, Martin Atkinson gave QPR a penalty. Charlie Austin dispatched the penalty, and Arsenal had to protect a one-goal lead. Calum Chambers and Francis Coquelin came on for Rosicky and Welbeck, and unlike last week, Arsenal saw out their one-goal advantage to get the three poins, though not without some discomfort: Mathieu Flamini blocked a goal bound header and there was a possible penalty for QPR in the dying minutes that wasn't given.