Welcome to my Arsenal blog for the 2015/16 season; here you can check out my thoughts on the current goings on at the club.
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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Arsenal record win over QPR despite Giroud red card

Goals from Alexis Sanchez and Tomas Rosicky meant Arsenal came away with all three points against QPR on Boxing Day despite a ridiculous red card for Olivier Giroud and a missed penalty. It was a fairly comfortable display until the red, but the Gunners still managed to score with 10 men. It was a penalty for QPR that changed the momentum of the game as after Charlie Austin slammed home from the spot it left for another nervy finish. Unlike against Liverpool though we managed to hang on for an important three points. The Gunners made two changes from the draw at Anfield at the weekend as Monreal replaced Chambers in defence whilst Rosicky made his first start of the campaign in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Arsenal's goal scorers celebrate
It was fair to say that Arsenal dominated the first halves display against QPR at the Emirates on Friday evening. It was a hugely improved performance in terms of ball retention from the game against Liverpool but so it should be against a team that hasn't won away from home all season. Harry Redknapp's side were intent on sitting back and making it as hard as possible for us to break them down. We did seem to break them down on numerous occasions but very few of those chances led to a goal. We almost had the perfect start too as early on former Gunner Traore slid in on Alexis and gave away a penalty. However it was a tame penalty from the man who won it as Green saved relatively easy. It begged the question as to why Cazorla, who had scored a penalty against Stoke and Newcastle didn't take.

However Sanchez was to avenge his penalty miss by scoring and assisting. It was a typical determined display from the Chilean who found the net through a well directed header from close range after a ball in from Gibbs. He managed to drag us out of tight situations a few times and that led to the second goal. He broke away brilliantly, dragging three defenders with him before sliding the ball into the path of Rosicky to fire home. It was an overall display from Arsenal that typified them this season but the three points were absolutely vital in what is such a busy festive period.

Tomas Rosicky has been out in the wilderness rather this season, through injury and being stuck on the bench but he certainly made his mark with his goal. He linked up well with Cazorla and drove us forward going well, adding massively to our play. I know I've said this numerous times, and so have many others but it is remarkable how he is 34 years of age. Despite just returning he already looks as though he could play a vital part in the second half of this season, just as he did in 2013/14.

The defence didn't have a lot to do and therefore Nacho Monreal's inclusion at centre half didn't really worry me. The penalty decision on Debuchy was a little controversial but thankfully it didn't cost us. We were a lot more resolute in defence from last time out which was encouraging. That's not to say that Laurent Koscielny's return can't come quick enough!

Between the two Arsenal goals a moment of madness ensued. Olivier Giroud reacted badly to what looked like a push from Onuoha into the goalkeeper and he was consequently sent off for a slight headbut. Although it didn't cause any damage it was violent conduct and there were no excuses for such a moment of stupidity. What's especially annoying is that he was starting to find some form and will now miss our next three games. Three vitally important games against West Ham and Southampton who are both ahead of us, and also Hull City in the Cup.

With such a busy period it is important we rotate a little. I agree that will be a difficult task considering our injury situation, and the importance of the games but we can't afford some of the players to burn out. Giroud's suspension will probably allow Podolski some game time, and judging by his record against West Ham we don't have anything to worry about in that sense. It'll be a tough, yet very interesting end to 2014 and start to 2015.

The team's line-ups:

Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs, Flamini, Cazorla, Rosicky(83), Sanchez, Welbeck(87), Giroud.
Subs: Ospina, Chambers(83), Bellerin, Coquelin(87), Campbell, Walcott, Podolski.

QPR: Green, Isla, Caulker, Ferdinand, Onuoha, Traore(62), Henry(72), Kranjcar, Mutch(71), Vargas, Austin.
Subs: McCarthy, Hill, Fer(62), Wright-Phillips, Phillips, Hoilett(62), Zamora(71).

My man of the match: Alexis Sanchez.

Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Attendance: 59,947.

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