Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Queens Park Rangers

Emirates Stadium, London
Saturday, October 27
10:00 a.m. EDT, 15:00 BST
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Anthony Taylor
    • Assistants: Jake Collin and John Brooks
    • 4th Official: Lee Mason
  • This Match, Last Year: Arsenal 1 - 0 QPR
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 20 Arsenal wins, 15 QPR wins, 14 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: W-W-D-L-W-L
  • QPR's League Form: L-D-L-L-L-D
We're going through a little bit of a rough patch right now, wouldn't you say? Doom and gloom, etc, etc. The timing of the Annual General Meeting didn't really help and now everybody's mad...

So, let's take a step back and enjoy this photograph of Dame Judi Dench wearing a Stay Dench hat. Just look at it! This picture wins the Internet! Thankfully there's something Arsenal related to smile about in the midst of this week of total garbage.

There's only one way to turn this negativity around and that is with a sustained period of winning. That period can start with a win on Saturday. This is the kind of game where a team could get caught thinking they're going to stroll their way to a victory, but after two straight defeats, you have to think that Arsenal won't get caught by that now.

Three points. That's really all you can ask for.

And, just a note to everyone that's upset that Arsene Wenger compared Champions League qualification to winning a trophy: calm down. He was referring to prioritizing with respect to being able to attract new signings, and he is absolutely right about that. Players want Champions League football prospects more than they care about a League Cup in the trophy cabinet. Relax.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Gibbs (thigh), Diaby (thigh), Szczesny (ankle), Fabianski (shoulder), Rosicky (Achilles)
Doubts: Oxlade-Chamberlain (hip), Walcott (chest), Sagna (broken leg), Wilshere (foot)

The Ox gets tips from a punter who once punted the
ball for negative yardage in a college game.
Photo via
Let's start from the front and work our way back this week, shall we? Up top, I think Olivier Giroud has to get the start at center forward, after Wednesday, when Gervinho, the World's Falsest Nine, contributed nothing from the position. Shift Gervinho to the wing, where he's more effective. I also have heard nothing as to whether Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are available again yet. I would say no on the former, and a slight maybe to the latter.

Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna could both be available for selection, which is very exciting news, but makes selecting a predicted XI almost impossible. Do either of them shift directly back into the line-up? I would doubt it.

As for the back line, Kieran Gibbs is still out with a thigh injury, meaning either Eboue 2.0 Andre Santos retains his place after having a 'mare on Wednesday, or a center back shifts to that spot and Laurent Koscielny slips back into the back four. I would suspect Santos starts; QPR isn't going to terrorize him like Schalke did.

Predicted XI: Mannone, Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Santos, Arteta, Coquelin, Cazorla, Podolski, Gervinho, Giroud.

QPR Squad News

Out: Fabio (hamstring), Johnson (knee)
Doubts: Dyer (calf)

Andrew Johnson is QPR's longest term injury. After signing a two year contract to move over from another part of West London (Fulham,) Johnson tore his ACL and will miss the majority of the season. He might be back by the reverse of this fixture, though, which is scheduled for May 4.

Fabio (pictured left... wait, that's not the one we're talking about?), who is on loan from Manchester United, has been out with a hamstring injury and will likely be short for this match (I can't really find a timetable on his injury, though he's due for a scan. I highly doubt he'll be available for selection, but I've been duped by erroneous information on opposing teams before...)

Perma-hurt Kieron Dyer is listed as having a calf injury. Armand Traore is a doubt due to match fitness; Arsenal should be so lucky to face the former Gunner left back.

Current Form

"Well... now what?" Photo: Daily Mail.
Do I have to talk about current form? Really? I don't want to.

I do have to? Okay. But I'm not going to enjoy it.

This is the first time Arsenal have lost consecutive matches since February (when they lost 4-0 in Milan before falling to Sunderland 2-0 in the FA Cup.) You know what match came right after that? BAM! 5-2 over Spurs.

Arsenal have been kept off the score sheet for two consecutive matches for the first time since the start of this season, but in those matches, they didn't concede either, so it was slightly easier to take and we all just thought we weren't going to see any goals this season. Boy, that was a nice run-on sentence, wasn't it? Of more concern is that Arsenal have now gone nine matches across all competitions without keeping a clean sheet. That's three games longer than the longest such stretch of last season.

QPR are winless on the year (so were Norwich before last weekend.) They have three draws and five losses on the league season, but do have points against the likes of Chelsea and earned a draw with Everton last week (a better side would likely have beaten the ten-man Toffees, however.) Their only away result of the year was a 1-1 draw at Norwich, which is better than how Arsenal did there... QPR's only win of the season in any competition came in the second round of the League Cup, when they beat Walsall 3-0.

Match Facts

Fezzes are not cool when used to celebrate beating Arsenal.
Photo: Daily Telegraph.
Both sides split the points over the course of two meetings last year, with each team winning by a goal at home. The sides met on New Year's Eve at the Emirates, with Arsenal winning 1-0 thanks to a goal from he who shall remain nameless at the hour mark. At Loftus Road in late March, Adel Taarabt opened the scoring by darting past Thomas Vermaelen in the 22nd minute, but Theo Walcott pegged back an equalizer in the 37th. QPR won it 2-1 thanks to a Samba Diakite goal in the 66th, converting a pass from Jamie Mackie. The loss for Arsenal snapped a seven match winning streak at the time.

Over their last 12 meetings in the league, Arsenal have won just twice against QPR, at the Emirates last year and at Highbury on Boxing Day in 1995. That latter match came in QPR's last top flight season before last year; in the reverse, they played a 1-1 draw. The year prior, QPR won both meetings 3-1, and before that, the sides played six consecutive league draws.

The Referee

To be honest, sending off Lee Cattermole is not a difficult
decision whatsoever.
The referee is Manchester-based Anthony Taylor. Taylor took charge of two Arsenal matches last season: the fourth round League Cup win over Bolton and the 3-3 draw with Norwich on the penultimate weekend of the season. In the latter match, Taylor turned down an Arsenal penalty shout in added time, when Kyle Naughton shoved a certain former Arsenal striker who shall continue to remain nameless in this post.

Speaking of Taylor denying Arsenal penalty shouts, he did the same in the 0-0 draw with Sunderland in March of 2011, when Titus Bramble shoved Andrei Arshavin. That came moments after Arshavin had a goal incorrectly ruled offside. Those are the only three Arsenal matches he has worked in his career.

Taylor has not worked a QPR match since September 17, 2011, a 3-0 win over Wolves at Molineux.

Around the League

United came from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Stamford Bridge
last year. David de Gea briefly forgot that he was
David de Gea to make this save on a Juan Mata free kick in
injury time to save the point. Photo: Daily Telegraph.
England changes their clocks this Sunday morning, while the United States changes their clocks next Sunday morning, so be aware of that when looking at match times for this Sunday and next Saturday. They are an hour later than they would normally be.

Matches this Saturday, obviously, are unaffected. The early match will see Aston Villa host Norwich as Paul Lambert faces his old side at Villa Park. The other standard time slot matches feature Reading hosting Fulham, Stoke facing Sunderland, and Wigan hosting West Ham. The late match sees Swansea City visit Eastlands to face Manchester City.

There are four matches on Sunday because this is a Europa League week and teams playing on Thursday are never forced to play two days later. The early match, which is at 9:30 Eastern time (remember, clocks change,) is the Merseyside derby, as Everton faces Liverpool at Goodison Park. Two matches take place at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time, as Newcastle hosts West Brom and Southampton hosts Tottenham. The late match, and marquee game of the weekend, is at noon Eastern, as Chelsea hosts Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

Remember, next Saturday's games air an hour later than normal in the U.S. That means Arsenal's early match with Manchester United is at 8:45 a.m., not 7:45 a.m.

The reverse of these fixtures will be played the weekend of May 4-5.