Arsenal 1 (Arteta 84) – Queen’s Park Rangers 0
Man of the Match – Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Ah! Relief! Such a wonderful thing to experience, and it’s been a while since that happened. As the final whistle went, I am sure there was a palpable sense of relief all over the Emirates, despite the stark muteness of the fans on a gloomy and a mundane evening of football.
Arsenal, on the bounce of 2 defeats, and facing severe criticism regarding on and off field matters, scraped out a hard fought victory over a dogged Queen’s Park Rangers side, that frustrated another jaded looking Arsenal side.
Arsenal welcomed back Jack Wilshere after his 15 month injury layoff, which was a massive positive, as well as Bacary Sagna, who has been out for almost 6 months now. Carl Jenkinson was given a well deserved rest, having played in 12 games so far this season, while Wilshere replaced Gervinho, who had been subdued in the past few games, after an impressive goal scoring start.
For QPR, there were worries as Park Ji-Sung, that South Korean bloke who always scores against us, was a late exclusion, and in came Shaun Wright-Phillips. However, as I had suggested in my preview, the Hoops had enough about them to cause problems for the Gunners.
Arsenal were the first to get out the traps, when a right wing cross was headed just over the post by Aaron Ramsey. The crowd was giving wild roars every time Wilshere got the ball, and it was well deserved, as the young Englishman literally was the spark in Arsenal’s overall lackluster and tired-looking midfield.
Despite being out for so long, Wilshere, who has visibly bulked up, thanks to loads of time in the gym, looked like he was never away, as he skipped several challenges, and wasn’t afraid to go into some of his own. He even had a shot, but was saved easily by Brazilian Julio Cesar. Olivier Giroud too had a shot of his own saved, after a free kick from Lukas Podolski threatened to creep in.
Wilshere was creating more chances, and Santos let go of one, but was easily saved by Cesar. On another ocassion, the Brazilian left back tested his compatriot again with a right footed shot, but Cesar grabbed again.
At the start of the second half, there was some concern, as Wilshere was stamped upon by former Real Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero, but the Spaniard fortuitously escaped with only as much as a warning. Arsenal had a fantastic chance at goal, minutes later, when Mertesacker’s header was again saved by a flying Cesar.
At the other end, Andre Santos, as usual, was out of position, more than once, as QPR tried to attack from that flank. Luckily, Vermaelen had a pretty good game, and there were only a couple of balls that whizzed past, without much danger. However, QPR thought they had scored when Junior Hoillett chipped Vito Mannone, only to be called offside.
Wilshere, who had been massively impressive, was bought off, to a standing ovation, for Theo Walcott, as Arsene Wenger looked to inject some pace into the game. Gervinho too came on in place of Lukas Podolski and it seemed to have worked, when the chance of the game fell to Santi Cazorla, in the penalty box, after Cesar could only parry the ball, but the Spaniard shot inexplicably wide.
The turning point of the game came in the 80th minute, when Vermaelen shoulder challenged Stephane Mbia, only for the defender to react and lash out at the Belgian. He was immediately sent off. In the meanwhile, Gervinho had to be called off, after having picked up an ankle injury, and was replaced by Andrei Arshavin. How this proved to be decisive.
Arsenal almost had a goal moment later, when a goalmouth scrap resulted in a hashed clearance from Ryan Nelsen which bounced off his own player, and required a reflex save from Julio Cesar.
Arsenal finally had their goal when Andrei Arshavin came in from the left, and delivered an inch perfect cross to Giroud, but the Frenchman’s effort was again saved by Cesar, only to fall into the path of Mikel Arteta, who could only head his effort against the post. It fell right to Ramsey, who again forced a save from the Brazilian, but it fell to the path of Mikel Arteta, who had the easy task of putting the ball in the back of the net for a very scrappy goal.
And this was what I had asked from the team yesterday.
Come on Arsenal. Give us something, anything. A 1-0 win. Just a win, even if it bounces of Ryan Nelsen’s buttcheek, onto Bosingwa’s head, looping over Park Ji Sung, in between the legs of Stephane M’Bia and under Julio Cesar’s outstretched hands. Please.
Of course, it didn’t exactly happen as clockwork, but hey, who the f*** cares? Oh, and that was not it. Arsenal, being Arsenal almost gave away the points, as Esteban Granero shot wide, despite being nearly free to score. And in the third minute of injury time, Jamie Mackie made a surging run from right back, beat 3 players, including Santos and Vermaelen, but his shot was to close to the keeper, and the danger was cleared.
As I said, 3 points was a must today, and we finally crossed the finish line, which is important. Positives, well, plenty. It is good to see Jack Wilshere back in action. It lifted the whole team, and the entire stadium, which can only be good. Also good to see Sagna. Although Jenkinson has done little wrong, I think Sagna showed what the extra bit of experience can do. He was immense today.
Attack wise, I think we lacked a little, and that’s understandable, coming on the back of 2 defeats, after a long international break. Hopefully, most of the first team players, will get some time off to recharge their batteries, in preparation for the big clash next weekend, as the youngsters strut their stuff in the Capitol One Cup against Reading.
I was impressed with the way Olivier Giroud played the perfect target man. He held up the ball immensely well, and won almost all of his aerial duels. He got an assist as well, however scrappy that was. Forwards, though, are judged on the number of goals they score, and hopefully the Frenchman will get his scoring boots soon.
Andre Santos, after all the stick, I think, improved a bit. He didn’t venture too much inwards, and allowed Podolski to cut in. Moreover, he made 4 tackles, and 5 interceptions, and had the highest touches with the ball (100). But, onus will be on getting Gibbs ready for next week.
There are a few negatives as well. Aaron Ramsey had a reasonable game, but it is clear that the right side of midfield is not his position, and he is being continually played there. Hopefully, with Walcott fit now, we will get to see more of him, barring the contract issues. As I said, the tiredness was visible for everyone to see, and there’s nothing like a few days off, to get the ball rolling again.
Finally, I can have a few peaceful nights of sleep.
Jai Arsenal 🙂
Oh, and a special mention, to Norman Duncan, the oldest Arsenal fan, who has been watching Arsenal since he was a 8 year old, in the 1920’s. He has watched Arsenal win all of their trophies so far, and hopefully there will be some coming soon! You, sir, are a legend.
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