Arsenal squeak 1-0 victory over QPR to go back to fourth spot
Best news for Gunners is that Jack Wilshere is finally back from his long injury lay-off
A LATE goal from Mikel Arteta enabled Arsenal to see off the challenge of Queen’s Park Rangers but it was another poor performance from the Gunners.
On the plus side the win lifts Arsenal into fourth spot, and there was also the welcome sight of Jack Wilshere getting his first run in a red and white shirt for 17 months. The England midfielder played the first hour and showed no ill-effects from the ankle injury that has sidelined him since the summer of 2011.
But how Arsenal need Wilshere. Having surrendered meekly to Norwich and then Schalke in the Champions League, Arsenal were in desperate need of a morale-boosting victory against the Premier League’s basement club.
Instead the Emirates faithful were treated to another disorganised display. Admittedly the Hoops had Julio Cesar to thank for a string of superb saves that kept his side in the game but Arsenal struggled to create chances. In fact one might argue that the Gunners had Stephane Mbia to thank for their victory as the defender got himself sent off on 80 minutes for a petulant kick at Thomas Vermaelen.
A couple of minutes later Arsenal were ahead as Olivier Giroud’s header was brilliantly saved by Cesar, only for Arteta to bundle the ball over the line. Even then Rangers could – should – have equalised but poor finishing cost the visitors dear and Arsenal held on for the win.
“I am very happy with the result because we lost two big games,” Arsene Wenger said afterwards. “We were a bit lucky that they lost a player, because it made it easier for us… but overall we played a serious game against a good team.”
Rangers remain rooted to the foot of the table, still without a win after nine games. Manager Mark Hughes tried to take positives from the narrow defeat. “We were in total control, never under real pressure,” he reflected. “But the sending-off put us on the back foot, although even then I thought our response was magnificent and we had chances to win the game."
Arsenal are now three points behind Manchester United, who lie in third on 18 points, although that could all change when they play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge today.
Manchester City meanwhile moved into second spot with an edgy 1-0 victory over Swansea at the Etihad Stadium. In a match that was marred by serious injuries to Swans goalkeeper Michel Vorm and Sky Blues defender Micah Richards, neither side found their rhythm as the referee added a record 12 minutes of injury time.
Despite the dozen extra minutes the only goal of the game came from Carlos Tevez's stunning strike on 61 minutes. But it was enough to send the reigning champions into second spot, just one point behind Chelsea.
“We were tired and I think it showed in the first half, but we played better in the second half so I am happy,” said City boss Roberto Mancini, who also had warm words for Tevez. “He scored a good goal at an important time and is a vital player for this team.”
In other results, West Ham missed the opportunity to climb into fourth spot as they went down 2-1 at Wigan. Ivan Ramis volleyed the Latics in front after eight minutes and James McArthur added a second after the break. Though James Tomkins headed the Hammers back into contention late on Wigan held out for a win that moves them into 15th spot.
"I really enjoyed the performance,” said Wigan manager Roberto Martinez. “We have been showing flashes of our ability but today we were really good. Our philosophy and way of playing will never change."
The other three matches all ended in draws with Stoke and Sunderland unable to find the net in their match at the Britannia Stadium. Aston Villa were held 1-1 at home to Norwich, while Fulham and Reading conjured up six goals in their stirring 3-3 draw at the Madejski Stadium.