Arsenal deservedly secured a narrow 1-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers under the watchful eye of returning legend Thierry Henry. While Wenger will be happy with three points, what is worrying is the gunners present inability to capitalise on a host of chances in front of goal. Walcott and Gervinho will in particular be disappointed with opportunities that really should have easily been dispatched into the back of the net.
The man who did secure the points through his cool finish was Dutchman Robin van Persie. While the gunners captain will be happy to have won the game for Arsenal, no doubt he will be disappointed at not equalling or even eclipsing Alan Shearer’s record. He needed a brace today to equal Shearer’s record of 36 goals in a calendar year and while he managed one, based on the number of good chances he had perhaps it should have been one or two more.
There were also more worrying signs at the back with Thomas Vermaelen limping off with a calf strain, leaving central midfielder Coquelin playing at left-back. With Arsenal already playing two central defenders on the flanks in the back-line due to injuries to all our natural full-backs it seems Arsene has a decision to make in the upcoming transfer window. While our natural centre-backs are defensively comfortable, on offence they are somewhat hesitant to overlap or make marauding runs up the wing, something we loved to see from the likes of Sagna and Santos.
On the positive side though is that we finish the year in a top-four spot with Chelsea succumbing to late goals from Aston Villa. It is great to see the gunners somewhere near the top after a dismal start to the campaign where we were as low as 18th and hopefully it is onward and upward in 2012! We look forward now to upcoming game against Fulham who lie in 13th position on the Premier league ladder and hope for another victory!
On Arsenal’s Premier League rivals dropping points…
Yes, many teams dropped points. For us, it was a bit of a repetition of the Wolves game because we didn’t manage to score more than one goal. Then it’s down to not making a mistake at the back and we had to be patient to take our chances. I feel when the repetition of the games is so high, you can’t make a difference with the pace of the game, you have to take your time and focus on not making a mistake. That’s what we did quite well, and Robin van Persie again scored the goal that won us the points.
On QPR’s display…
It is a good QPR side. They have a good midfield, they played well and they always looked capable of creating something. It is one of the good teams we have seen this season.
On Robin van Persie repeating his scoring exploits in 2012…
He can, because he is the right age to perform. It is ‘touch wood’ that he can repeat the same number of game but nothing is impossible. I don’t know why tonight at midnight it should suddenly change!
On whether Van Persie will be disappointed not to set the scoring record…
He will not tell you, but certainly he will be [disappointed]!
On being in the top four after a difficult start to the season…
That’s why when you are in a difficult situation I always said that you have to take the criticism and focus on performing better and improve. I give credit to the players because we have been 17th or 18th in the League and we focused and improved as a team, with a formidable spirit in the side. That got us where we are today. We still have room for improvement, but there a good basis there because the attitude and spirit are really great.
On Thomas Vermaelen limping off…
He has a calf strain, so maybe at midnight I will try to find a left back! It is serious enough for him not to play on Monday [against Fulham] or against Leeds for example. We now have three left-backs out [injured]. Francis Coquelin came on in this position and did quite well, but he is a central midfielder.
On whether he try to sign a left back on loan…
Straight after the game I don’t know, because I have to analyse it all. Kieran Gibbs is not too far but it would be stupid for us to drop points because we don’t have a left back.
Djourou Mertesacker Koscielny Vermaelen
Benayoun Van Persie (c) Arshavin
Wojciech Szczesny | 7.0: While the young keeper had long quiet spells, when he was called into action he made vital saves against Wright-Phillips and Bothroyd in the early exchanges and made good interceptions in the second half
Johan Djourou | 6.5: A solid game from the Swiss defender. Provided a great pass for Van Persie in the first-half and was defensively solid. Was booked for a rash challenge on Barton.
Per Mertesacker | 7.0: Totally dominated in the air and made some vital interceptions. Was assured in possession and overall was an exceptional performance.
Laurent Koscielny | 7.0: Lucky not to get his rightful yellow card for hacking down Wright-Phillips, but like usual was very strong defensively with excellent positioning and work-rate.
Thomas Vermaelen | 6.5: Wrongly given a yellow card for Koscielny’s bad tackle. Overall a solid defensive performance from the Belgian defender, but was substituted off for Coquelin after picking up a knock.
Alexandre Song | 6.5: The Cameroon midfielder decided to play a more attacking role tonight rather than sit tight in his usual holding midfield position. Broke up play when required and made a nuisance of himself up front.
Mikel Arteta | 7.0: Totally dictated play for Arsenal with his wide range of passing, but would like to see the Spaniard be little more risky and try find a defence-splitting pass a times.
Aaron Ramsey | 6.5: Had a spectacular volley directed away by Barton and often tried to find the killer ball without success. When he finally did pull it off for Walcott the Englishman spurned the chance.
Theo Walcott | 5.0: Was largely absent from the match and spurned what were two of the best chances in the match. Will be very disappointed with those efforts considering he wants to play a striking role.
Robin van Persie | 7.0: He didn’t get the record, but he did win us the game! Perhaps should have had more goals considering the chances he had but took his goal well on the hour mark.
Andrey Arshavin | 6.0: Was ineffective for much of the match, but he was the reason we won the match with a perfect ball to set-up Van Persie on the hour mark.
- Notable Substitutions
Tomas Rosicky | 6.5: The Czech looked good when he came on making a lot of industrious runs forward and looked to spark attacking plays.
Francis Coquelin | 6.5: While out of position the young Frenchman did well at left-back and looked to contribute on attack whenever the opportunity provided itself.
Gervinho | 5.5: The Ivorian should have scored two minutes after he came on. Often dwelled too long on the ball, particularly when Van Persie unselfishly put the goal on a plate for him on two separate occasions.