By Walter Broeckx
Before the match some people might have said that we should beat QPR with our fingers in our nose (as the expression is in my mother language). Meaning it should be an easy win. One you don’t have to make any effort, just turn up and you will get the 3 points.
But QPR is one of those grounds where things never look easy for Arsenal. Of course it is a derby and so you get that extra bit of the home team wanting to do better. That makes it more difficult than that a Northern team would come to their ground. Nothing as bad as local rivalry to lift the spirits for a good fight. I remember us losing at their ground in the past but also remembered hard fought victories. So you never know what to expect from such a match.
The conditions were in fact very favourable for an upset. QPR had played their last match on 21 February at Hull. And since that day Arsenal had played 2 extra matches. One against Monaco and one against Everton. So QPR having 10 days to prepare for this match and Arsenal having 3 days. My fear was that we would run out of steam at the end.
But it turned out completely different. QPR started as a really fresh team and ran like mad all over the pitch and made it difficult for Arsenal to get the ball moving around in the way we can. But it wasn’t really academic football that QPR showed more the hoof it high and far and hope for the best. Our defenders were up to the task and Per and Gabriel were rather solid. The best chances for QPR came from shots from outside the penalty area. Some might call it chances but in fact it were just shots that Ospina had to deal with and he did this rather well. Talking about Ospina he is a bit smaller than Sczesny but he does seems to know when to come for a high cross and when to stay on his line. Oh and Kos did really well when he had to come on apart from the QPR goal where he and Gibbs both ran away to cover and that gave Austin just the space he needed. One has to attack the attacker in such a situation.
Our full backs had to defend a lot in the first half but in the second half when Arsenal had turned the match around completely they could join the attack. Let me point out that Gibbs is getting back to his best it seems after being a bit rusty in his first match. And it was him with two assists in fact. It was after his touches that Giroud and Alexis could score. Certainly the first goal was amazing as he sprinted over the whole length of the pitch to do the overlap with Alexis and then Giroud could finish the attack.
His partner on the right hand side is living up to what I predicted he would be: a fantastic right flank player. Don’t call Bellerin a right back. He is more than that. Much more. He covers the right flank, runs up and down for the whole 90 minutes as if it is nothing. Yes he still is work in progress but can you imagine this boy in a few years time? What a prospect…. And he got his own song apparently? Can’t wait to hear it as I mostly watch with the sound muted I haven’t heard it yet.
Coquelin the man with the iron mask was again having a great match. Certainly in the first half his defensive work was a major part in keeping QPR away from our goal. He is doing this task in a great way and he can also play the ball forward a bit and can dribble and fight himself at times out of difficult situations. One of the players that was catching my eye in the second half was Cazorla. At times it looked as if we had two Cazorla’s on the field. Helping out Coquelin and starting the Arsenal attacks with skilful dribbles around QPR players as if they were cones on the practice pitch. His twisting and turning is a pleasure for the eye.
Rosicky and Özil as the more advanced midfielders also played a great match. “Lazy” Özil was the 3rd player from Arsenal when it comes to ground covered. Behind Cazorla and Bellerin by the way. His work rate is great and he would have scored a goal if it hadn’t been for a blatant foul on him by Henry that wasn’t seen by the ref. He then was also unlucky to see a shot of his weaker right foot being saved by Green and the goal post. It is amazing to see how people can still doubt such a wonderful player. Of course he can have a bad match but don’t all of us have bad days? Rosicky was also always around the ball most of the time giving a few nice chances to other players but nothing came from it (see foul on Özil).
Alexis and Giroud our two real forwards on the day had a mixed day. Working hard and each scoring a goal. Alexis should have scored a hattrick. He missed a few chances and certainly the one where he tried to lay it off to Özil when Giroud won the ball was a big miss for him. But he kept on working and trying and his goal was a great reward for his never give up attitude. The same can be said about Giroud. Fighting against the big QPR defenders and coming back for each dead ball to help out the defence and then to score the first goal was again a good reward for another good match.
And to see Ramsey back on the field is always a joy for me. He didn’t seem to be having anything holding him back in his legs or in his head. Was immediately involved and busy working both in attack and helping out the defenders.
I think in the last week Wenger rotated smartly. Giving Per a res, now was the goal to give Koscielny a rest but that failed unfortunately. Rotating Rosicky and Oxlade-Chamberlain, not being too quick to throw Ramsey in the field.
A very well balanced team that could mix fight, determination and then added the skill to finish the job. More of this please.
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