Thursday, 5 March 2015

Arsenal Get Three Vital Points At QPR

Last night's 2-1 win away to QPR might not have been an earth shattering performance from Arsenal, but it was a very important win. It's not very often that all of the top seven teams in the Premier League win in the same week, but such was the case on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Any points dropped by Arsenal would have been very costly, but thankfully they held firm and got the win.

Arsenal weren't too good to start with and QPR had the better of the exchanges for almost half an hour, but gradually Arsenal got on top. There was a noticeable change in tempo after the break and Arsenal got the ball down and played some good attacking football. The goals eventually came through Olivier Giroud (again) and Alexis Sanchez with his first goal in eight games. Both goals were finished from very close range and only some very good goalkeeping from Robert Green kept the score at 2-0. 

The goal QPR pulled back through Charlie Austin was one to forget for the Arsenal defence with Laurent Koscielny and Kieran Gibbs making a schoolboy error. They both backed off Austin just outside the Arsenal box and allowed him to turn and shoot past David Ospina. Luckily for Arsenal there was only 10 minutes left to play and QPR didn't really muster another goal worthy opportunity during that time.

The result might have been a little too close for comfort, but United were far luckier than Arsenal and only scored the winner in the last minute after a game in which the referee did them a lot of favours and Newcastle none at all. At the same time City were very fortunate to overcome bottom club Leicester and again had some dodgy refereeing decisions to help them on their way. Chelsea came very close to dropping points at West Ham and Spurs had to hold off a very strong finish from Swansea to win by the odd goal.

Those three points for Arsenal kept them third in the table one point ahead of United and three ahead of Liverpool with 10 games left to play. They play six of their last 10 games at home and those six games are going to have a huge influence on where they finish. Arsenal might have only won two of their first six home league games, but they have improved that form immensely to win their last seven in a row.

Part of the reason for the improvement in the team's performance has to be the form of Francis Coquelin since he got his chance to show what he can do against West Ham 10 league games ago. Arsenal have won eight of those 10 games and Coquelin has shown himself to be the hard tackling, ball winning midfielder the team was lacking. He had to play with a mask last night after breaking his nose against Everton on Sunday, but it didn't stop him from putting in another sterling performance.

With the league out of the way for the next nine days Arsenal can concentrate on the defence of the FA Cup. They face a very hard task away to United next Monday night in a ground where they haven't had a good performance in far too long. United have a very good record at home this season, but I'm still not convinced they are anywhere near the real deal.

Of course Arsenal have had their own ups and downs and have already lost at home to United in the league. That game said so much about why Arsenal can be so frustrating for their fans as it was a game they should have won, but somehow contrived to lose. They will have to beat the odds to get a result at United, but they certainly have the players to do so and just need to find a performance to match their ability on the night. 

Looking at the United team at the moment I can't say there's one of them I think would make Arsenal any better with the possible exception of David de Gea. Arsenal have the players to dominate the game if they put their minds to it, but they will have to take their chances this time unlike the league game. I'll preview that game more over the weekend which means that's about it for now.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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