When Theo Walcott latched onto Mikel Arteta’s pass to score after just 20 seconds, a convincing victory seemed certain. After all, we were playing the bottom side who’d been relegated with a whimper last weekend and hadn’t managed a goal in their last three games. Yet somehow it stayed 1-0 and Arsene Wenger celebrated a crucial, if unspectacular, three points.
We were certainly the better side by some distance, having 54% possession according to the BBC match report and controlling play comfortably albeit without fashioning many clear openings. Walcott was at the forefront of all our attacking moves and I can’t help but think that a more clinical player would’ve bagged a hattrick today. He was unlucky to see Rob Green palm a smart snapshot onto the post in the first half, but that apart the only times the dodgy QPR keeper was tested were from long range as Arsenal struggled to penetrate a leaky defence.
Wenger would’ve expected a more comfortable afternoon
However, QPR woke from their slumber in the second half and made a game of it. Andros Townsend was particularly lively down the right flank as he gave Monreal a testing afternoon with the Spaniard going into the book for one particularly cynical foul on him. They didn’t seriously threaten Szczesny’s goal though until late on when the only other player on QPR’s books that a Premiership manager would look at — Loic Remy — swept a shot towards the bottom corner which Szczesny did well to turn around the post.
And that’s about all that happened. I almost regretted having ordered ESPN earlier that afternoon using one of their free phone numbers just to watch this game. It was a tedious affair and for those of you fortunate enough to have missed it, I can sum it up best using the analogy of a father playfighting with his son, casually keeping him at arms length with one hand on his son’s head while the son tries hopelessly to land a blow.
A positive spin on this would be that we were playing within ourselves and had more gears to go through if necessary, but I think that we simply weren’t capable of creating better chances. It would seem our recent solid form at the back has come at a cost as the team is nowhere near as prolific going forward as it was earlier in the season. The overall balance is working though, as nine matches unbeaten testifies, and that’s the main thing at this point in time. Questions as to what next season holds for us playing like this (and only just scraping past 10 men Fulham for example) can be asked in the summer.
While I’m on the subject of dull matches, I watched a stream of Spurs v Southampton earlier and cannot believe how lucky the old enemy were. It may be uncharitable to call them a one man team, but today they certainly were, scoring with their only serious goal attempt as Bale produced another sensational winner. It keeps things uncomfortably tight as we now have to sit and watch Chelsea play three times and Spurs twice before our next match against Wigan. It may work in our favour if one or both of them drop enough points, but if we need a win against a useful Wigan side with everything to play for, I’d be worried on the basis of what I saw today.
Having said that I seem to have written how ‘worried’ I am about the next match with alarming regularity in recent weeks and yet we still produce the results. I’d be happy for that to continue this season, but we really need that often-promised overhaul in the summer to finally happen because this club is still underachieving on the pitch.
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