Arsenal saw their winning run ended in frustrating fashion as goals from Taarabt and Diakite came either side of Theo Walcott’s equalizer to deny Wenger’s men all the points on Saturday.
The hosts bossed the opening minutes and took the lead as their star man beat Vermaelen to hand QPR the lead. But Arsenal were back in it with their first meaningful chance of the match after 37 minutes as Theo Walcott first hit the post with a fine strike before rebounding his ricocheted effort into the net.
Arsenal now had a strong grip on the game and should have went on to win the match after the restart as Van Persie missed a one-on-one chance. And they were made to pay dearly when Vermaelen slipped at the back and allowed the teeing-up of Diakite who smashed the ball home.
The Gunners remain in third place, but with tough games on the way in weeks to come, there will be no room for awful displays like today’s.
That winning streak really did not mean anything to me. At this time of the season, only the results matter, and whether it comes emphatically or not, only the results and points matter.
But dropping only three points in their last eight games means the boys have to keep their head up. They have mounted a challenge which looked impossible at the start of February and with seven games to go, anything similar will be very beneficial to their Champions League hopes next season.
There was nothing beneficial about today though, and that’s why there is that frustrating feeling around because it was not just because Arsenal had lost and gotten zero points at Loftus Road (which IS a tough place to go by the way – ask Chelsea and Liverpool who both lost there), it is the manner in which they lost that was concerning.
A majority of the players seemed complacent, as if they were saying in their heads “we will always find a way out” even when the team went behind to Taarabt’s goal. There were a lot of lazy passes and slips, and even after Walcott scored you had to feel that Arsenal needed to up their tempo or anything could happen.
And anything did happen. Vermaelen – already culpable for the concession of QPR’s opener – showed some childishness by a earning a needless yellow card for a little ‘hand bags’ moment with a QPR man, and then followed that with an inexplicable slip at a vital place and a vital point of the game to allow Mark Hughes’ side the lead.
Quite disappointing too was Arsenal’s response to that goal. QPR were hardly threatened at the back and Gervinho, sent on for Ramsey (another below par show from him), failed to make any genuine impact. In fact, apart from scoring rarely or assisting, the Ivorian seems pretty useless to the run of play. He is too flimsy on the ball, and tries to dance on it too much. Apart from that, his ability to track back and help out at the back when we lose the ball is nothing essential.
Still, the Gunners do have their fate in their own hands at this point and there are two factors in their favour. The season is running out of games, and they are the pace setters not the chasing side in terms of the race for that third/fourth place.
Every point gained will be vital to keeping that advantage.