Queens Park Rangers 0-1 Arsenal: Ugly But Necessary

Once again, Arsenal made incredibly heavy weather of a side that should have been brushed aside with aristocratic arrogance. That said, the Gunners are hardly in a position to be picky about where the points come from - any scenario that results in three at a time is one that works for us right now.

There were many out there who had called this a potential trap game because QPR's relegation has already been confirmed. I think that misses the mark, though. This team has been mentally on holiday for quite some time now, to the point where their own manager told the press before the game that "this squad wouldn't make it back out of the Championship". Harsh words from Harry Redknapp, but you get the sense that he's not wrong, either.

Sometimes, you look at sides that get relegated, scan their roster up and down and ask yourself: "How on earth did these guys do down?" QPR are not one of those sides. It took Arsenal a grand total of 21 seconds to get the only goal that would be needed. Good work by Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Artera sprang Theo Walcott, who took advantage of appalling defending by the Rs to come in alone on Robert Green. Walcott's shot was hard and low, but frankly Green should have done better. He allowed it to go through him, and Arsenal had an early lead.

Ideally, the men in red would have sensed blood in the water and banged in a few more before the home side could get their bearings. Instead, the Gunners' offense stagnated immediately after Green picked the ball out of his net. All of the hallmarks of Bad Arsenal made unwelcome reappearances - guys standing around doing nothing, leaving the man on the ball no options...awful passes to nowhere...bad giveaways under no pressure...none of the greatest hits were left unplayed.

The two sides traded chances around the 25th minute mark, but Green repelled Walcott while Andros Townsend blazed his shot well over the bar.

That was literally it for the first half, as Arsenal whiled away most of that time with ineffective possession.  Not much changed after the restart, except for the fact that QPR improved somewhat in the second half (nowhere to go but up for them though, it has to be said). Wojceich Szczesny had to be alert to palm away a cross from Townsend early on, then minutes later awkwardly fisted away a swerving screamer from the same man.

Arsenal got back into it enough to ease the pressure on their keeper, but still struggled to fashion chances of their own. Green had easy saves to make from Walcott and Santi Cazorla, but that was the extent of the threat from the visitors.

Once again, this was a match that was screaming out for substitutions to find the second goal that would have killed it off. Instead, the boss played to preserve the lead, so none were forthcoming. The changes pretty much asked for themselves, too. Lukas Podolski once again was anonymous leading the line, while Rosicky was well off his usual standard. Aaron Ramsey was another who struggled, while both fullbacks were not great shakes, either.

Perhaps the manager was just paralyzed with indecision at which of the underperforming ones should be taken off first.

The 80th minute came and went, and still no substitutions. I'll spare you my usual rant, other than to say that it would go here otherwise.

QPR would have their one chance to equalize soon after, though. The substitute Bobby Zamora played in the excellent Loic Remy, who fired a thumping shot low to Szczesny's left. The Pole tracked it well though, and he did fantastically well to tip it wide at full extension.

Belatedly (REALLY BELATEDLY), the manager finally made substitutions. Podolski, Cazorla and Rosicky were replaced for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and Thomas Vermaelen. None of them had any impact on proceedings - these changes smacked of time-wasting tactics from Arsene.

Either way, Arsenal left Loftus Road with three massive points, made all the more so by the maddening goal that Southampton conceded to our nearest and dearest with scant minutes left in their game. The Saints could have done us a huge favor there, but it wasn't to be. If you look at John's chart from Preview by Numbers though, two more wins against lower-level sides will give us a 99.8% chance. I'll gladly take those odds.

The Modern Gooner Player Ratings:

Szczesny 8, Monreal 6, Koscielny 7, Mertesacker 7, Sagna 6, Arteta 7, Ramsey 6, Cazorla 7 (Wilshere N/A), Rosicky 6 (Vermaelen N/A), Walcott 7, Podolski 6 (Oxlade-Chamberlain N/A)

Man of the Match: Not much to choose from here. Walcott didn't do much other than the goal, which arguably should have been saved for me. I'll go with Wojceich Szczesny for the save on Remy.