Twenty-One Gun Salute For Quickfire Theo

A good day at the office
A good day at the office

QPR 0 – 1 Arsenal

0 – 1 Walcott (20 seconds)

The final whistle could have been blown eighty-nine minutes earlier and I don’t think anyone would have noticed. From explosive beginnings, this match turned out to be a damp squib in terms of the spectacle. With two fixtures remaining, who cares? Arsenal needed three points and these were duly delivered, courtesy of the fastest goal in this season’s Premier League. Depriving Him of that ‘honour’ (it’s the new fourth, kids) brings a smirk.

Pressure has taken a southerly path across the nation’s capital, Tottenham had to beat Southampton, Arsenal required the same outcome in their match. Chelsea now bear the brunt in arguably the trio’s hardest task as they travel to Old Trafford and then return to Stamford Bridge to prepare for the midweek visit of Tottenham. A crucial four days for all.

From the kick-off, the visitors took the game by the throat. The ball worked its way down the right, courtesy of Traore’s wayward header and Tomas Rosicky, falling eventually to Theo Walcott in the area; an unerring finish was delivered.

And from there, nothing really. Walcott shot was turned onto the post by Green midway through the half but everything else was half chances or blocked. QPR were supine by contrast, barely able to rouse themselves across the halfway line in response. When they did as the half drew to a close, the Arsenal goal was not threatened by wayward finishing. The reason for the West London’s demise this season was plain to see.

The second half saw more purpose from The Championship’s latest additions. Townsend drew a save from Szczesny, Koscielny the same from Green. Cazorla was thwarted with a swirling effort Walcott and once more, tested the former England ‘keeper. As it was, Arsenal’s Polish custodian would underline the improvement in his own form, turning Loic Remy’s curling effort around the post as the final curtain was prepared.

Post-match, Arsène nailed the performance,

Overall we played a little bit conscious that points were vital and we could not make any mistake. It was detrimental to our offensive game but we had a sound defensive game today.

Nothing wrong in delivering that at all with a clean sheet underlines the reason for the recent improved form. We have turned full circle this season; difficult for opponents to break down but by the same token, not as free scoring as one might expect a Wenger side to be. At this stage of the season, that is what is needed. The manner of victory is not important, gaining the three points is.

In the current climate, it is all too easy to criticise the squad for seemingly contradictory reasons. When they were conceding too many, it was too gung-ho, Wenger needed to get to grips with the defence. Now, the attack is the gripe. You can’t please all the people, all the time. Or in this case, at all. When those complaints surface, strong performances are often overlooked and Wojciech Szczesny continues his rehabilitation with another sound goalkeeping display; conceding just a penalty since returning to the side. In his pre-match press conference, the manager noted that Lukasz Fabianski would return to fitness next weekend. He has a big decision to make in terms of which of the two Poles takes to the field at kick-off against Wigan, one that will surely be influenced by his plans for next season.

That match is ten days away. In the interim, both Tottenham and Chelsea play, the latter, three times including the meeting between the two. After that, I would expect Arsenal to be fifth with a game in hand. How many points to make up is tricky to guess. At best, that will be one point, anything less is a bonus, more makes life difficult. Super Sunday a fortnight today beckons.

’til Tomorrow.

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