Wenger baffles with team selection | Vermaelen switches off twice to cost us

by & filed under News Review.

So there we have it, our seven game winning streak has come crashing down with an almighty thud against a team my QPR supporting guest blogger was almost certain they had no chance of winning. We’re at that point in the season now where you can’t look at that result with anything other than total disappointment. We should have gone out and taken them apart, instead, we put in a lack lustre performance and dropped three extremely vital points. Our cushion has now disappeared and we’ve invited a world of pressure back onto ourselves.

(more…)

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The ‘Not Robin’ Award winner announced | Arsenal vs QPR preview

by & filed under Guest post, Match Preview.

Good morning Grovers! The weather has decided to take the weekend off, but it’s holding up well enough not to ruin your day if you’re lucky enough to have a ticket to today’s away game over in West London.

It’s the 11th anniversary of the passing of David Rocastle. I highly doubt they’ll be doing anything to commemerate his death, but I’d imagine the away fans will honour him in the only way they know how… loads of singing his name. I don’t really have crystal clear memories of him as a player, it was a little bit before my time of being able to really tap into what made a great. Geoff always spoke glowingly of his passion for Arsenal and how exciting he was to watch… he also reminded me that he cried when he was told he was being sold on. You just don’t get that these days… well, unless you’re Senderos, but he cries at literally everything. Arsenal.com have some nice photos of Rocastle here.

I’m not one for great previews on the opposition. Like Wenger, I believe you shouldn’t focus on others… that’s why I’ve enlisted the help of a QPR season ticket holder who goes by the name of Warren Dell. He’s given us the lowdown on his sides miserable season so far.

View from Loftus Road

It’s that part of the season where I finally welcome Pedro to the delights of Loftus Road. Originally, I was expecting a happy day out on the Peroni as we would have negotiated our first season back in the Premiership without too many hiccups and be enjoying the upper echelons of the bottom half, so any likely defeat wouldn’t be too much of an issue. Oh. How. Wrong. Was. I.  A pleasant jolly in the sun will now turn into another nail biting afternoon of shouting at so called ‘Premiership’ players as we watch QPR star in another episode of ‘How many ways can a football team lose a match’.

We’ve dropped the most points from winning positions (15), had the most red cards (6) and even had legitimate goals taken away (not bitter), which sees us sitting in the bottom three.  I’m still scratching my head how this has come about.

On paper we have a team that should be more than capable of competing in this league and finish mid-table comfortably, even picking up a few big scalps along the way.  Teams that accompany mid-table would surely love to have the likes of Djibril Cisse, Bobby Zamora, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Joey Barton, Anton Ferdinand, Nedum Onuoha, Armand Traore (more on him later), Taye Taiwo and Luke Young.  These are guys who have Premiership and European pedigree and joined by the likes of Adel Taarabt and Alejandro Faurlin we should have been able to compete

However this squad is one cobbled together in two transfer windows, most on a frantic last day of the windows and in between we’ve had a change of manager, been involved in a race scandal with our hated neighbours Ch*lsea, lost our best player for the season to injury (Faurlin) and been the subject of a film which exposes the mad house that has been QPR for the last four years.  It’s never a dull moment supporting QPR and a lot of fans, myself included can’t wait for this season to be over.

Sitting in the relegation zone with the top 5 all to play in our last 8 games would have the most optimist fan hard pressed to convince themselves we can stay up.  But being a football fan, rational thinking goes out the window.  We will stay up. Won’t we?  If we are going to do so and pick up a win it will have to be done without Djibril Cisse, after his second red card in 5 games for us.  Two of our six cards came when in winning positions which were overturned and three of them in the first half alone.

So the responsibility of goals will fall on Bobby Zamora, who I’m hoping can relive his exploits against you for Fulham, the returning Heidar Helguson and Adel Taarabt, the most gifted player I’ve seen in a hooped shirt, however he’s yet to score this season or express himself like he can either.  He’s often derided by our captain and Social Media Guru Joey Barton, who thankfully has taken a Twitter sabbatical while he tries to find the form which we know he can produce and had us so excited when he signed.

Keep an eye on Samba Diakite in central midfield who looks a promising player, quick and technically sound on the ball but with a tendency to make rash challenges, his debut lasted barely half an hour and if we get over run in midfield I expect he’ll have his name in the ref’s book at some point. One player that may not make the game through injury is ex-Gooner Armand Traore.  A player who has shown glimpses of why he was rated highly at Arsenal and although he’s been one of the more consistent performers of our new signings, he does let himself down at times in concentration and commitment.

If we are going to pick any points up then the fans will play a big part, the atmosphere against Ch*lsea, Man City and after the comeback against Liverpool can lift the players up a gear, although another misplaced Joey Barton pass or Shaun Wright-Phillips wayward shot can soon turn the atmosphere sour.  I don’t expect us to win today, but I’ll be hoping come 5 o’clock I’ll be adding this to some of mid-nineties wins against you (I was there when Jensen scored…and Gallen, Allen and Impey) rather than the last time we met at Loftus Road and were thumped six nil!

Back to Arsenal…

Some interesting news coming from Wenger on the homepage. On the player front he’s talking about signing Robin and Theo down to longer contracts. He’s confident, when is he not eh? The club will open talks at the end of the season, so we’ll see from there. I can already see where this is going. The end of the season comes, the players want to focus on the Euro’s, that finishes after they’ve both had blinders, they up their expectations… this could be a long old summer.

We’re also starting to get a bit of ground hog coverage from the official site. Now Wenger is talking about internal affairs being his focus and he’s bragging about the depth of his squad.

‘Then we have Chamberlain, Diaby, Wilshere, Song, Rosicky, Coquelin, Arteta, Gervinho, Walcott, plenty of players.’

This is exactly what he said last year before having a disaster. Still, if we’re looking at bringing in 4 top quality players, one of which is a midfielder, then I guess it doesn’t matter. He does need to add quality to the squad mainly because he doesn’t have the manoeuvrability to add quantity (25 man rule and all that).

Squad news today is largely positive, Koscielny is 90% certain to make a start after recovering from his knee issue. Diaby is 90% not certain play because he sneezed and strained his calf muscle.

The line up should be well rested going into this game. The club will have had time to prep so this should be a good day. Like Warren said in his piece, on paper, QPR should be mid-table. The fact that they’re not shouldn’t fool us into complacency. On their day they could turn us over. The atmosphere down there will be electric… we’ve just got to make sure we take the same clinical approach we have been over the last few weeks.

I have no feel for how he’s going to line up, but this certainly feels like the sort of game we could unleash a Chamberlain, Theo and Robin from three. I’d say we might bring Ramsey into the line up again, but the form of Rosicky will probably keep him out. The back four should remain the same as always… so really, we have very little to stop us from taking QPR down.

The ‘Not Robin’ Awards Results

We’ve had a count up of the votes (4,520) and it seems your player of the year who isn’t Robin Van Persie is…

  1. Koscielny 63%
  2. Song 22%
  3. Arteta 15%

Congratulations Laurent, your prize has been despatched!

Just the bed, obviously

Enjoy your Saturday!

P.S. I think I speak for all Arsenal fans when I wish Petrov a speedy recovery from illness.

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