Hoops put a hold on Arsenal
Written By: Robert Halter
Third from bottom Queens Park Rangers hosted third from top Arsenal at Loftus Road with contrasting fortunes for both clubs as the Hoops battled to avoid relegation from the Premier League back to the Championship in their first season at the top flight while the Gunners looked to keep hold of an automatic Champions League qualification spot for next season after seven straight wins on the spin. Paddy Kenny made his first stop from a low Robin Van Persie free kick on seven minutes following Clint Hill’s foul on Theo Walcott, outside the box. On thirteen minutes the R’s replied with a free kick of their own as Adel Taarabt’s floating ball in was headed over by Bobby Zamora, following Mikel Arteta’s boot in the face of Joey Barton. But it was the Hoops that went ahead midway through the first half, when Hill played the ball through and as Thomas Vermaelen was unable to brush Taarabt aside, Laurent Koscielny failed to get a tackle in, and Taarabt capitalised by turning the ball past Wojciech Szczesny into the right side of the goal. However, Arsenal drew level on thirty six minutes, after Van Persie laid the ball off to Walcott, whose first strike rebounded off the foot of the right post but at the second attempt, Walcott put his effort into the centre of the goal as the R’s defenders stood still. Kenny had to beat away a Van Persie free kick on fifty seven minutes, after Taye Taiwo’s handball from Bacary Sagna’s cross. It took an instinctive save by Kenny to keep out a lethal strike from Van Persie a minute later as Arsenal’s prolific number ten closed in on goal after Alex Song’s through ball split open the Hoops defence. A slip by Vermaelen, let the R’s in for a second goal in the sixty sixth minute, when Jamie Mackie got off the floor to put the ball on a plate for Samba Diakite, whose precise finish struck the roof of the net. On eighty four minutes, Barton linked with Mackie, before his blast at the ball shaded the crossbar as QPR pushed for a third. But two goals were enough for the Hoops, who picked up a priceless three points against Arsenal in their battle to avoid the drop, before next travelling to league leaders Manchester United.