QPR given hope of safety with victory over Arsenal
Queen's Park Rangers 2 Arsenal 1
The word "discipline" may be more important to managers than to supporters but in the light of a vital victory over Arsenal, Queen's Park Rangers' followers ought to appreciate its significance. Their team had begun the game without the suspended Djibril Cissé (two red cards in four games) and needed to rely on such maverick talents as Adel Taarabt, Joey Barton and Samba Diakité not only staying on the pitch but carrying out the role demanded of them by that most disciplined of managers, Mark Hughes.
As it happened, each of the three picked up a yellow card, but did his bit in implementing the game-plan that Hughes had worked out to maintain his excellent record against Arsenal's pass masters. In addition, Taarabt and Diakité came up with the goals without which Rangers' position in the table would have looked parlous. They now want Blackburn to lose at home to Manchester United tonight and drop below them into the relegation places on goal difference.
Barton, who had been substituted and dropped in the past two games, responded well, urging the side on from the centre of midfield. Taarabt, who occasionally drove Hughes's predecessor Neil Warnock to distraction even while becoming the Championship player of the year last season, was given a specific role on the left to stop Bacary Sagna breaking forward as well as doing his own thing on the ball. "Adel did well in terms of the defensive work he was allocated and he understood it was really important for the team that he did that work," said Hughes. "He's got an undoubted talent; he just needs to harness it and if he listens to what I and the coaches tell him, he can be a top Premiership player. He's learning very quickly. And the goal was really well taken."
It certainly was, involving a lovely turn past Thomas Vermaelen before running on to beat Wojciech Szczesny just inside a post. Until then, the Moroccan had had more shots without a goal than any player this season – and almost certainly more stepovers too. Diakité, a Mali midfielder picked up by Hughes from Nancy in January, is the exception to the rule that foreign players find British referees too permissive. He found them too strict and was sent off after 34 minutes of his debut against Fulham. On Saturday he showed greater control and scored his first goal from Jamie Mackie's cut-back after another slip by Vermaelen.
So despite Theo Walcott having equalised before half-time, Arsenal's run of seven successive victories was ended. For once Arsène Wenger's tactics appeared deficient, with Aaron Ramsey out of place on the left and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain kept in the dug-out until the last 10 minutes.
QPR: KENNY 7/10, ONUOHA 7, FERDINAND 7, HILL 8, TAIWO 7, MACKIE 7, BARTON 7, DERRY 7, DIAKITE 8, TAARABT 7, ZAMORA 7
Arsenal: SZCZESNY 6, GIBBS 6, VERMAELEN 6, KOSCIELNY 6, SAGNA 6, RAMSEY 5, SONG 7, ROSICKY 6, ARTETA 6, WALCOTT 7, VAN PERSIE 6
Scorers: QPR Taarabt 22, Diakite 66. Arsenal Walcott 37.
Substitutes: QPR Wright-Phillips (Zamora, 90).
Arsenal Gervinho 5 (Ramsey, 70), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arteta, 81), Chamakh (Gibbs, 81).
Booked: QPR Taarabt, Ferdinand, Barton, Diakite. Arsenal Vermaelen, Song.
Man of the match Diakite. Match rating 7/10.
Possession: QPR 51% Arsenal 49%.
Attempts on target: QPR 8 Arsenal 7.
Referee M Dean (Wirral). Attendance 18,033.
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