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Posted: 01/01/2012
By Darren Bowser
Category: Match Reports

Arsenal 1-0 QPR: Wenger thankful for his Robin reliant

The short report

There are many parallels to the last round of fixtures, plenty of favourable results elsewhere and plenty of chances to take the points, but this time Arsenal took full advantage. The manager however will surely be concerned at the lack of goals at the Emirates of late.

Selection

Szczesny, Vermaelen (Coquelin 54), Mertesacker, Koscielny, Djourou, Arteta, Ramsey, Song, Arshavin (Rosicky 67), Van Persie, Walcott (Gervinho 74)

Having shuffled the pack with four changes against Wolves the manager, seeking to balance the demands of a busy schedule, made a further three changes for the visit of QPR. Theo Walcott returned from illness to replace Gervinho on the right, Andrey Arshavin came in for Benayoun and Aaron Ramsey for Rosicky.  Sound choices. 

Arsenal too reliant on Robin

The team is set up much more as 4-3-3 than to previous season’s 4-5-1. The game play is more direct and stretched with a commitment of players high up the field, it’s a system that is less blurred in terms of attack and defence, in that sense more old fashioned. It means effectively that Arsenal are heavily reliant on their forward three to get the goals, playing at times rather narrow this system allows at least two of the front three to get into central positions, either to receive a square ball from the third forward or for any one of the three to receive a through ball.  The wide pair of Gervinho and Walcott missed absolute sitters of the afore mentioned nature respectively, both are contributing significantly to the style of play and assists for Robin but both are having enough chances to get 15 for the season but are falling well short.

Player Focus

Yossi Benayoun was preferred on the left to Andrey Arshavin for his first Premier League match start against Wolverhampton. That decision in isolation may have been read as some indication that the Russian has slipped further down the pecking order, we’ll just have to see whether it was a mere reflection of Arsene Wenger looking to manage his resources but I suspect it was telling to a degree. He’s a player whose performances and impact on the game are becoming more peripheral, but he did make a telling contribution for the goal with a precise well timed ball through for Van Persie. On 63 minutes he had a shot well blocked, credit for the movement to get into the position. ‘He runs when he wants’ was the chant from block 6, but is he still capable physically to extract his talent? I feel that more than attitude is the issue at hand here.

Man of the match

Whilst the manager has looked to rotate in the midfield and attacking positions he resisted the temptation to rest Robin Van Persie. The press and media focused inevitably on potential scoring records as justification for his selection  over resting the player, which rather negates the more obvious point that Arsenal were looking a vital win. In a match were chances were squandered Robin stepped up to the mark to get the job done, and in pressure circumstances too. Should have got himself assist after great work on the byline to set up Gervinho who missed from 6 yards.

Moan of the match

The officiating once again must have driven every fan in the ground to complete distraction. As against Wolverhampton there was a string of unforgiveable errors.  Taarabt got away with a forearm smash to Arshavin’s head on 19 minutes, on 32 minutes Atkinson missed a blatant handball by Luke Young whose outstretched arms ‘saved’ Koscielny’s volley from the edge of the area and then there was the farcical booking of Vermaelen for a foul committed by Koscielny, even with half time and numerous officials the problem was not rectified.

Final word

Anything less than six points from the two home festive fixtures would have be looked upon as points dropped and missed chances to close up, fortunately the two points dropped against Wolves have not hurt the Gunners as they otherwise might have with favourable results in both rounds against our rivals. Although the stand in full backs has done well we are perhaps now seeing just how much our regulars in those positions add to the offensive element of our game. Coquelin showed some versatility filling in at left back but with Vermaelen now out for 2-3 weeks we are beginning to look short for the cursed full back positions.  Let’s hope that Thierry Henry can have some positive influence off the field to aid the fortunes of Gervinho and Walcott on it.

Next up: Fulham (A) Arsenal have been rather flat in recent games which have included a 1-1 draw with Fulham at the Emirates. With Fulham having secured a draw at the Bridge by the same score this one looks less than straight forward given our injury position.

Category

2011-12 | Match Reports

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