Gunners halt the Hoops
Written By: Robert Halter
Queens Park Rangers were yet to score at the Emirates Stadium and had already lost all eight Premier League games away from home so without a single point on the road for the R’s, the omens were not good for the Hoops ahead of a London Boxing Day Derby at Arsenal in the early evening kick off. Ex Gunner, Armand Traore handed the chance for an opener on a plate for Arsenal in the eighth minute by hacking down Alexis Sanchez in the area but a tame spot kick by Sanchez was saved by Robert Green, as the Hoops shot stopper dived to his left to smother the ball away to safety. The Gunners were then kept at distance, first Olivier Giroud tried his luck from long range but curled the ball over in the twenty fifth minute and then sixty seconds later, Sanchez sent a wild effort soaring high and wide of the target. But in just under the half hour mark, R’s captain Rio Ferdinand pulled down Danny Welbeck and from the resulting free kick, Giroud bent the ball over the wall but Green reacted well to claw the ball away from underneath his near post. In the thirty third minute from a Santi Cazorla corner, a header by Mathieu Debuchy went sailing over as Rangers were kept under pressure from the Gunners attacking play. Finally, Arsenal got their just rewards, after build up play between Welbeck and Cazorla before Kieran Gibbs whipped in a left wing cross that was converted by a powerful diving header by Sanchez in the thirty seventh minute. But QPR eventually threatened, a minute after conceding the goal, as Steven Caulker flashed a header across the face of the goal from a cross by Mauricio Isla. Four minutes into the second half, the Hoops still had the handbrakes on, as Arsenal in cruise control, let fly with a Debuchy cross that eluded Snachez at the far post. But Arsenal were reduced to ten men, when Giroud lost the plot by putting the crown of his head into Onuoha’s forehead, who fell to the floor, as Giroud saw red mist after colliding into Green by being pushed in the back from Onuoha, while in pursuit of a ball over the top by Tomas Rosicky. But as the R’s tried to make use of the extra man advantage, Traore sliced the ball over the bar in the fifty eighth minute. Four minutes later, Cazorla laid the ball off to Sanchez, but his curling strike went over the upright. The Hoops then made a double change by taking off Traore for Junior Hoilett and putting on Leroy Fer in place of Karl Henry. But it was the Gunners that found the answer, as a weaving run from Sanchez opened up the R’s defence to pave the way for Rosicky to drill the ball into the left side of the goal with a slight deflection off Caulker in the sixty fifth minute. Following a foul by Hoilett on Debuchy, the free kick was curled over the crossbar by Cazorla in the sixty ninth minute. In a final change by QPR, Bobby Zamora took over from Jordan Mutch. The Gunners pressed again as Debuchy pulled the ball back from the right before Sanchez bent the ball over in the seventy second minute and then within two minutes, Welbeck tested Green with a shot directly at the R’s keeper from Sanchez’s ball in. But on seventy nine minutes, Debuchy was adjudged to have clipped Hoilett in the area, and Charlie Austin stepped up to convert the spot kick with a fierce strike into the centre of the net. Arsenal then changed Rosicky for more defensive back up in Calum Chambers and the R’s were kept at range near the end as Austin could not keep the ball down from outside the box, and the Gunners looked to hold out with another defender Francis Coquelin replacing Welbeck, but it took a clearing block close from Mathieu Flamini to fend away a close range glancing header by Eduardo Vargas from a Niko Kranjcar corner to avert the danger for Arsenal before the Gunners had a late scare after Gibbs harshly challenged Zamora in the area but it was game up for QPR when Kranjcar put a free kick over after Coquelin’s infringement on Fer.