Premier League: Arsenal 1 Queens Park Rangers 0
Arsenal moved into fourth place in the Premier League on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers at Emirates Stadium.
In a tight affair, Dutch striker Robin van Persie sealed victory on the hour mark after Andrey Arshavin’s assist allowed him to tap home, with the away side giving a good account of themselves against their London rivals.
In a quiet opening 10 minutes, both teams kept the ball well without really threatening, until Jay Bothroyd struck the first shot of the match from 20 yards out, forcing a save from Wojciech Szczesny low to his left.
Rangers quickly responded as Adel Taarabt’s through ball was latched onto by Shaun Wright-Phillips, but Szczesny was out quickly to block his effort.
After a positive opening from Neil Warnock’s side, Arsenal quickly laid siege to their goalmouth as van Persie came close three times in quick succession, while Theo Walcott dragged an effort across goal.
The visitors were then dealt a slice of luck as referee Martin Atkinson turned down a huge penalty appeal.
Luke Young flung himself into the path of Laurent Koscielny’s volley, with the ball ricocheting off his leg onto his outstretched arm, and the 32-year-old could consider him lucky to have gone unpunished.
Aaron Ramsey went close just before half-time, but his volley from the edge of the area was headed off the line by QPR skipper Joey Barton after van Persie’s corner.
The second half began with a flurry of chances at either end, with Alejandro Faurlin coming closest to opening the scoring for QPR, but he fluffed his shot with the goal gaping.
Walcott was put through by a fabulous ball from Ramsey as Arsenal looked to break from a QPR corner, but as he reached the area with only Rangers’ goalkeeper Radek Cerny to beat, the former Southampton man dragged his shot well wide.
Arsenal did not have to wait too long for a goal though, taking the lead with half an hour to go through van Persie.
QPR seemed to have won a corner but a goal-kick was indicated by Atkinson, not linesman Simon Beck, and the Gunners used the opportunity to break up the field, with the much-maligned Arshavin finding van Persie in space to slot past Cerny at his near-post.
It was to be Arshavin’s last – and only – moment of note as he was substituted for Gervinho soon after.
The African winger was quickly involved in the action, but missed an absolute sitter as he shot wide from in front of goal having been set up by van Persie.
QPR were spurred on and began to attack as the game ebbed away, but looked likely to be caught on the counter-attack.
While Rangers had plenty of possession towards the end, they could not find a way past the Arsenal defence, with Per Mertesacker in particular putting in some important blocks and headers to preserve the lead and the precious three points.