Well, that was unconvincing. Needing a late, offside goal to beat 10 men who are bottom of the league pretty much sums Arsenal up at the moment. A win was the most important thing though and it should give the players something of a lift ahead of the daunting trip to Old Trafford next week.
Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna made welcome returns, but despite both men putting in good performances the pattern of play was once again predictable and ineffective. All we had to show for much huffing and puffing in the first half was a Ramsey header which clipped the bar.
It took until the 77th minute to fashion another notable chance as the game seemed to be petering out to a frustrating draw. A Walcott cross landed invitingly for Cazorla 12 yards out, but he blazed over — a shocking effort for a man of such wonderful technique.
Up until that point Arsenal had played exactly as they had against Schalke, offering very little going forward. Luckily for us QPR didn’t have the quality on the counter that the Germans possess.
Thanks Mbia, we needed that.
The match swung our way in the 80th minute when Stephan Mbia needlessly kicked out at Vermaelen, earning himself a red card. Arsenal immediately piled on the pressure and were nearly rewarded when a lucky ricochet forced Julio Cesar into a terrific stop. It says much that our best effort on goal thus far had come off Onuoha’s arse.
With six minutes to go we scored the winning goal when a scramble resulted in Arteta poking the ball home having hit the bar with his first effort. Replays showed he was offside as Ramsey bundled the ball towards him and we were fortunate none of the officials spotted it.
The goal lifted us and we had two good shots when Ramsey and then Cazorla went close, but in injury time we somehow allowed the ten men not one, but two fantastic chances to snatch a deserved draw. First Granero dragged his shot wide after the Arsenal defence was beaten by a simple ball down the channel, and then Mackie skipped past three tentative tackles to find himself one on one with Mannone. Thankfully he showed no composure as he blasted the ball straight at the Italian’s legs.
So we limped over the line to claim a vital victory that stops our winless run. We also recorded our first clean sheet in ten games, although that wouldn’t have been the case against a decent side.
I don’t usually bother reading Wenger’s comments as I’ve heard them all before, but both manager’s interviews were interesting today. Wenger insulted the intelligence of anyone who’d seen the match when he said:
“It was a good game overall. We played against a QPR side which has quality.”
Erm, no it wasn’t Arsene, and no they don’t. It was another tedious, frustrating match until Mbia’s moment of madness. QPR are shit and we weren’t much better. Mark Hughes summed it up when he said:
“I’ve come with teams on many occasions to the Emirates and that was as comfortable a game at the Emirates as I’ve been involved in.”
I don’t think we’ll be feeling too comfortable at Old Trafford next week if we play like that. It’s a real opportunity to get one over on van Persie, but I’m not confident.
As you can probably tell from the tone of this report, I’m still very disillusioned and annoyed about the last three matches as they confirmed to me we still have the same old problems that will mean another season of frustration. Even the return of Wilshere (on whose brilliant young shoulders far too much hope is being placed) has failed to lift my spirits much, but maybe a good result in Manchester will prove me wrong and relight my enthusiasm. We shall see, but I write that more in hope than expectation.
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