Arsenal Hold On to Clinch Victory Over QPR
Victory over a struggling Queens Park Rangers was almost a certainty before kickoff but the threat of a late comeback meant that Arsene Wenger’s men were forced to work until the final whistle to claim all three points.
Goals from Alexis Sanchez and Tomas Rosicky put the home side ahead before Charlie Austin pulled one back and mounted a real challenge for QPR but they could not find the equaliser and the match ended 2-1.
It looked as though it was business as usual for the Gunners right from the outset when Armand Traore fouled Sanchez in the box after only eight minutes.
However, the Chilean’s penalty was a terrible one and Rob Green barely had to move to pull off the save.
It took a further half an hour for Arsenal to find a second attempt but, when they did, they made it count.
Kieran Gibbs flashed a dangerous ball across goal which found an, inexplicably, unmarked Sanchez at the far post who headed home for his fifteenth of the season.
His goal means that Sanchez is now the second fastest Arsenal player in history to reach that mark.
The walls of the fortress soon began to crumble, though, when Olivier Giroud was sent off only minutes after the restart for a senseless headbutt on QPR’s Nedum Onuoha.
Harry Redknapp sensed an opportunity so he brought on more attacking options in order to make full use of their man advantage.
However, the Gunners may have been a man down but they had not lost their spark and soon went another goal up when Rosicky lost the hapless Rio Ferdinand and slotted in from close range.
Then a controversial penalty was awarded for a foul by Mathieu Debuchy on Junior Hoilett with just 12 minutes remaining.
The winger clearly took a tumble without much contact but it was enough for referee Martin Atkinson to point to the spot and Austin dually obliged by tucking it away.
In doing so, Austin bagged a record of his own, becoming the second player in history to reach 12 Premier League goals for QPR before January, Behind Les Ferdinand.
The last 10 minutes belonged to the visitors who should really have equalised through one of their numerous chances, including a disallowed penalty despite a clear foul by Gibbs on Bobby Zamora.
The Hoops kept running at the defence and Hoilett was a major threat, however, the attacker lacked any sort of composure or intelligence under pressure and ended more chances than he managed to create.
Wenger has now won 400 games as Arsenal manager and sees his side just two points outside of the top four.
Their next fixture is away to West Ham on Sunday and the Frenchman may need to rethink his front line as Giroud will be missing through suspension and Danny Welbeck has only found the net once in the last 833 minutes of football.
Redknapp will hope the fighting spirit shown in the final moments of the game will carry on into their more winnable fixtures against Crystal Palace, Swansea City and Burnley over the next two weeks.