On Saturday morning this was a must win game, by the time Bale FC had finished it was a must must win game.
Redknapp it appeared had instructed the groundsman not to water the pitch it looked a bit bobbly to say the least.
Despite that we got off to a flying start, poor QPR defending gifted us possession, former Arsenal employee Traore who headed the ball inexplicably infield, Rosicky receiving Podolski’s knock down crossed to Ramsey who headed down to Arteta, Mikel found Theo in space he turned and finished past Green. 1-0 Arsenal nerves settled.
We had the ball for the next half hour but other than passing it around between players we didn’t try often enough to move after we had passed it. This is the difference between tika taka to win or tika taka to bore into submission. There has to be a centre forward to play off, and there has to be movement, preferably with pace. The only one trying to move for the return was Rosicky but more often than not the intended recipient was on a different wavelength.
We managed I think one more attempt on goal from Theo which Green managed to touch on to the post, it was a shame Rosicky had been blocked off after setting up the chance as the rebound waited to be touched home but he could not get close.
After the half hour mark QPR found their cojones and looked the better side up until half time and for half hour or so after it. We looked short of pace almost as if we had geared down when all was so comfortable and then couldn’t really pick it up again. That said QPR were restricted to long range pokes by the defence when they had too easily bypassed our midfield, but there was always a chance of one flying into the top corner and it created some nervy moments for the away fans and us watching at home.
For the last fifteen minutes it was mostly all us again, Cazorla made Green make a fine save but again no one had reacted in the box and the ball bounced harmlessly away.
There was still time for QPR to provide us one more scare the ball falling to Remy who tried to curl the ball into the far corner, Szczesny got a strong hand to it and pushed it wide, one of those that people think he should make regularly and thankfully for our CL qualification chances this time he did.
The pitch did not make the game easy, the players are limping over the line concerned with protecting the lead than going for the jugular but we have seen that kill us before chasing more goals when games are won and drawing or worse losing (Newcastle 4-4 anyone?). Some will call it a winning mentality when others do it, those that paid attention during the 2010-11 title run in will remember how we failed on too many occasions to get the job done.
The first point of football is to win, winning beautifully is a close second, losing beautifully third, losing ugly fourth.
I wondered yesterday as I watched whether there is a problem in the mindset of some of our players….ones I would call Big Time Charlie’s, players who believe they know where there better position is. Neither Walcott or Podolski can play centre forward for us in the PL currently, Theo is too small, Podolski doesn’t quite understand what is required of him in Wenger’s system. To me they are inside forwards from yesteryear, but maybe I’ll leave that for another post….at the moment lets just say their weaker foot does not allow them to be played on the best side of the pitch for the team.
Szczesny – 8 an important save to keep the clean sheet, struggled a bit under some high balls
Sagna – 6 solid at the back, although Park rarely threatened, not enough going forward
Monreal – 5.5 still adjusting to life in the PL, Loftus Road would have been a new experience for him.
Mertesacker – 7.5 reliable as ever, did what was necessary in his own way
Koscielny – 7.5 unflappable put another good performance in
Theo – 7 good finish
The Rest of the attack and midfield – 5 dull
Gooner in Exile