It seems to me that no other club in the world has managed to purchase so many expensive players – mostly past their prime – without any visible plan on how to use them like Queen’s Park Rangers over the last five years. On certain video-games their roster looks impressive. In reality, they are above the relegation zone with a game in hand ahead of Burnley mainly because Charlie Austin has scored more goals than Danny Ings.
The R’s are in a difficult situation. For them, losing Premiership status would be even more devastating than it would be for other clubs as they might get relegated in the Conference due to issues with Financial Fair Play. So, there is an additional motive for them to stay up and avoid further complications.
In order to do that, they have to improve their away form. They have been the worst away team in the league as they’ve managed to avoid an away defeat only on one occasion – a 2:0 victory at Sunderland. And, they’ll have to restore their home form as they have failed to win at home in the last four matches. Just one victory in the last nine matches is certainly relegation form.
We are going to be their first visitors since 7th February when Southampton took all three points thanks to Mane’s goal. They’ve played just two league games since – a victory over Sunderland and a defeat to Hull. Their match against the Spuds at Loftus Road was postponed due to the Capital One Cup Final.
Their team is full of well-known players but most of them aren’t good enough for Premiership level.
Lets start between the sticks. Their No1 is the well known Robert Green. He made a few good saves against us in the reverse fixture including Alexis’ penalty. He is “either a blinder or a blunder” type of a goalkeeper.
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Rio Ferdinand is one of the most decorated defenders in the history of the Premiership. But, he is 36 and QPR have conceded two goals per game with the former Manchester United defender in the line-up. Without him they’ve conceded 1.6 goals per game. Steven Caulker – who used to be a Spud – is Ferdinand’s partner. He is actually one of the rare players from the current squad that might hope for a Premiership career if QPR are relegated.
Armand Traore is their left full-back, formerly of Arsenal. He had participated in our 8:2 defeat against Manchester United and – judging by his performance in the reverse fixture – he hasn’t improved since that day at all. Mauricio Isla is a solid right full-back and looks like a young boy among his team-mates as he is “just” 26.
Leroy Fer is also one of those players that might find themselves with another Premiership club if QPR go down…If anyone dares to buy him that is. Fer has been relegated with Norwich and if he suffers another relegation, he might be considered to be a jinx! A powerful midfielder however.
Their attacking line is led by Charlie Austin who has been keeping them above the water with fourteen goals in 23 appearances but there are players like Adel Taarabt and Mauro Zarate – undoubtedly talented but with difficult characters. Eduardo Vargas has been connected with Arsenal in the past but – just like Isla – he’ll have to console with a friendly chit-chat with Alexis Sánchez before and after the game.
David Ospina gave a great performance against Everton and should keep his place between the sticks for a while. Hector Bellerin down the right flank might exploit the presence of Traore – if the Frenchman starts for the hosts that is. Nacho Monreal might return for this game as he has looked more disciplined than Gibbs.
Gabriel and Laurent Koscielny might start once more. So far their defensive partnership has produced two clean sheets (Middlesbrough and Everton). It can get only better from here.
Now, our midfield situation is difficult. We have six central midfielders injured but it seems – according to Wenger – that Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin are available for the game. Whether both of them will get the nod is the question, especially given that we play against Manchester United in FA Cup next Monday. So, I’d go with Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Özil in the middle where Rosicky would play in a more defensive role. Back in 1996, Croatia played 3-5-2 where all three central midfielders were playmakers (Aljoša Asanović, Robert Prosinečki and Zvonimir Boban) and none of them had been a ball-winning midfielder. Their football was eye-catching. Could it work? The likes of Rosicky and Cazorla have proved they can do the dirty work this season.
Theo Walcott might return to the starting line-up with Danny Welbeck replacing Alexis Sánchez on the left. The Chilean hasn’t scored in the last six matches and might get a rest ahead of more difficult matches. With all due respect to our opponents, we should dispatch them with ease this time. Walcott was on the score-sheet the last time we played at Loftus Road – he scored an early match-winner.
And, in order that to happen we’ll need Olivier Giroud both to score and not to head-butt anyone. He’s been in a great form since his return and there is an additional motive for him: with a goal against The R’s he will reach double-digits in the league.
We need a victory over QPR in order to keep the advantage over Manchester United and Liverpool respectively and pile the pressure on second-placed Manchester City. It’s going to be our sixth consecutive Premier League game in a row and eighth in all competitions but it won’t be easy. Especially since the hosts have had a lot of rest while we had to work a double-shift, but our quality and width in attack should be too much for them. Plus, we have beaten them in four out of our last five clashes and each time it was a narrow victory. I’d say we’ll win 2:0, with goals from Santi Cazorla (penalty) and Theo Walcott.
Head to Head
Premier League (EPL) 26 Dec 2014 Arsenal FC 2 – QPR 1
Premier League (EPL) 4 May 2013 QPR 0 – Arsenal FC 1
Premier League (EPL) 27 Oct 2012 Arsenal FC 1 – QPR 0
Premier League (EPL) 31 Mar 2012 QPR 2 – Arsenal FC 1
Premier League (EPL) 31 Dec 2011 Arsenal FC 1 – QPR 0
Bellerin Gabriel Koscielny Monreal
Cazorla (c) Rosicky
Walcott Özil Welbeck
QPR 0 v 2 Arsenal