Queen's Park Rangers 0 Arsenal 1 match report: Walcott and Arsenal maturing ruthlessly
Sunday 05 May 2013
Arsenal have always had the reputation of not matching their pretty football with ruthless efficiency when it mattered. That may have changed this season and on Saturday they continued their grind towards Champions League football.
The match was poor and Arsenal unremarkable, but they owed a crucial win – their ninth in 12 games – to two moments of quality, at opposite ends of the pitch, at opposite ends of the game. Theo Walcott put them ahead after 20 seconds. Arsenal then dozed for 80 minutes and needed Wojciech Szczesny to produce a brilliant diving save to deny Loïc Rémy a late equaliser for Queen's Park Rangers.
Walcott and Szczesny have had difficult seasons – one might have left, the other was dropped – but both are finding form now. They, like Arsenal, are growing up. Walcott is 24, Szczesny 23 and only Aaron Ramsey – a mature 22 and in better form than any Arsenal player – was younger than them of their Saturday starters.
Arsène Wenger, who brought on the 19-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the 21-year-old Jack Wilshere, praised Walcott and Szczesny afterwards. "It is a very good return," Wenger said of Walcott's 20 goals this season. "He is more mature in his finishing. He makes good runs and he is calm now in front of goal. I'm certain you remember him when he arrived, in front of goal the ball could go anywhere. Now you see every time he hits the target, he is forcing the keeper into a save. That's why his numbers are so much better."
Walcott has reacted well to his spell out of the side at the start of the season, before he signed his new contract. Szczesny was dropped for Lukasz Fabianski last month but an injury to Fabianski has given Szczesny another chance, which he is keen to take.
"It was a very great save," Wenger said of Szczesny's late leap. "We needed him once and he got there. He looks like he has his confidence back. I must give him credit because in this competition he has responded very well. When he came back he was sharper than when I left him out. Our job is to be competitive and he did very well.That's what you have seen with people like [David] Seaman and [Jens] Lehmann, when I took them out they came back stronger. [Szczesny] does that well; he's in a good frame of mind now."
So are Arsenal – accumulating the points for Champions League qualification. "We were not at our best going forward," admitted Wenger. "But I wouldn't say it's tension – the players do not look nervous in the dressing room."
Goal: Arsenal Walcott 1.
Substitutions: Queen's Park Rangers Derry 5 (Mbia, h-t), Taarabt (Park, 79), Fabio (Traoré, 90). Arsenal Oxlade-Chamberlain (Podolski, 85), Wilshere (Cazorla, 89), Vermaelen (Rosicky, 90).
Booked: QPR Derry, Jenas. Arsenal Monreal.
Man of the match Koscielny. Match rating 4/10. Possession: QPR 46%. Arsenal 54%.
Attempts on target: QPR 6. Arsenal 11.
Referee J Moss (Tyne & Wear).
Latest in Sport
Pornhub: Cheeky Liverpool fan uploads Philippe Coutinho wonder-goal video to adult website
Liverpool injury news: Brendan Rodgers could be without up to seven players for Burnley game... as Jordon Ibe posts picture of knee brace
Arsenal shareholders Stan Kroenke, Alisher Usmanov and Farhad Moshiri appear on Forbes' rich list - with a combined net worth of £14.9bn
Watch the moment a basketball player reassures a small boy after a mass brawl erupted on court
Jon Stewart brings The Daily Show to WWE Raw as Seth Rollins pays the price for feud with TV presenter
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin