Arsenal v QPR
Barclays Premier League
Kick off: December 26th, 2014 1730 GMT
It’s The Boxing Day thrill that will make us sweat today – our beloved Arsenal are going to play against QPR at home and we all hope that we are about to win the game and gain momentum for the forthcoming matches.
We haven’t had the best of campaigns so far – we have collected just 27 points from 17 matches which is the worst tally at this stage since 2005-06 when we had entered Boxing Day with just 26 points. That’s one of the reasons winning the game at home against R’s is so important.
Our opponents have a lot of experienced players but in terms of quality they belong in the bottom of the league. The one ray of light in their team is Charlie Austin. The prolific striker has already scored eleven goals in the league – only Sergio Agüero and Diego Costa have scored more than him – including a hat-trick in a home victory against West Brom last week. Now, we all know how our defending has been below-par this term so it’s obvious that Austin might cause some trouble for Szczesny. He has already scored goals against Chelsea and Manchester City so it’s not like he is just a flat-track bully. Cutting off his supply line led by Mauricio Isla and Leroy Fer might be the best way we have to deal with Austin. Their defence, on the other hand, has been the worst in the league so far which is great news for our attacking line.
When it comes to our team against QPR, we have to take into account that we’ll play West Ham on Sunday which means some rotation is not just recommended but obligatory.
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Wojciech Szczesny will start between the sticks. He has produced some fine saves in the last two outings which should do wonders for his self-confidence.
Calum Chambers is likely to start tomorrow as Hector Bellerin is still a doubt for the match.
Mathieu Debuchy and Per Mertesacker are likely to continue their partnership for the third time in a row. It would be great to get the first clean sheet.
Kieran Gibbs will start on the left.
It is still unknown what kind of midfield Wenger will send onto the pitch against the visitors. That’s the most problematic area of the team at the moment as we have Arteta, Ramsey, Wilshere, Özil and Diaby out with Rosicky probably being a bit rusty. The Czech maestro will probably feature against ‘Arry Redknapp’s side though unless Wenger picks Flamini and Oxlade-Chamberlain again. The Ox didn’t give the best performance against Liverpool last week and there is a tough game against West Ham that we should also think about so the inclusion of Rosicky in the starting line-up would make sense.
Either Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Joel Campbell on the right side of the attack would be a good choice as Alexis Sánchez needs a rest and a home match against QPR is probably the best chance for that. I’d pick the Costa Rican over the Englishman because The Ox also needs to be well rested ahead of the match against West Ham.
Rosicky could be handed a start as the attacking midfielder. In-form Santi Cazorla has been impressive lately but the Spaniard might be more needed in the match against the high-flying Hammers on Sunday.
Lukas Podolski on the left side of the attack would give a chance to Wenger to give a rest to either Olivier Giroud or Danny Welbeck. Personally, I’d go with Podolski down the left and Welbeck in the central role in order to give Giroud a bit of rest ahead of West Ham where the Frenchman’s aerial prowess might be crucial on both sides of the pitch.
It should be noted that QPR were hard to break in their last two visits to the Emirates. Robin van Persie scored a second-half winner in 2011-12 while we were lucky with Mikel Arteta’s late winner in 2012-13 as the Spaniard was offside. In our last meeting, Theo Walcott needed just 22 seconds to score the only goal of the game in what was one of the worst performances from our side.
Still, I’d predict a 3:0 victory for us with goals from Welbeck, Chambers and Podolski. It’s time for a clean sheet and a comfortable victory!
Head to Head
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
FA Cup (FAC) 27 Jan 2001 QPR 0 – Arsenal FC 6
Chambers Debuchy Mertesacker (c) Gibbs
Campbell Cazorla Podolski
Arsenal 3 v 0 QPR