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Premier League

  • 31 December 2011
  • • 15:00
  • • Emirates Stadium, London
  • Referee: M. Atkinson
  • • Attendance: 60067

Arsenal 1-0 QPR: Robin van Persie hits vital second-half winner to move Gunners back into top four

Arsenal 1-0 QPR: Robin van Persie hits vital second-half winner to move Gunners back into top four

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The hosts missed an array of chances to secure a more comfortable win, but the Dutch striker once again provided the breakthrough against a resilient Neil Warnock side

Arsenal picked up a vital win as their Premier League rivals dropped points with a second-half Robin van Persie goal helping them defeat QPR 1-0.

In a tight affair, the Dutch striker sealed victory after Andrey Arshavin's assist allowed him to tap home, with the away side giving a good account of themselves against their London rivals.

Arsene Wenger looked to tweak the team that drew against Wolves last week, with Arshavin joining the attack in place of Gervinho and Theo Walcott replacing Yossi Benayoun.

Aaron Ramsey also came into the side after appearing from the bench last time out, with Tomas Rosicky dropping to the bench, whilst for the visitors, top-scorer Heidar Helguson was replaced by Jay Bothroyd up front.

In a quiet opening 10 minutes to the match, both teams kept the ball well without really threatening, until Bothroyd struck the first shot of the match from 20 yards out, forcing a save from Wojciech Szczesny low to his left.

Rangers quickly responded as Adel Taarabt's through ball was latched onto by Shaun Wright-Phillips, but Szczesny was out quickly to block his dinked effort.

Arsenal's first moment of intent came through Van Persie, but his cross was saved low by Radek Cerny after some nice wing play by the striker.

After a positive opening from Neil Warnock's side, Arsenal quickly laid siege to their goalmouth as Van Persie came close three times, with a header, a dinked shot and a half-volley all spurned, while Walcott dragged an effort across the goalmouth when he really should have done better.

The visitors were then dealt a slice of luck as referee Martin Atkinson turned down a huge penalty appeal, as Luke Young flung himself to block Laurent Koscielny's volley, with the ball ricocheting off his leg onto his outstretched arm.

The 32-year-old could consider him lucky to have gotten away unpunished, while referee Martin Atkinson came under more fire from the home support as he booked Thomas Vermaelen in a case of mistaken identity after Koscielny brought down Wright-Phillips on the right wing.

     Behind enemy lines | Barton could not help QPR penetrate the Arsenal defence though

Ramsey went close just before half-time, but his volley from the edge of the area was headed off the line by skipper Joey Barton after Van Persie's corner, with Arsenal continually threatening in the opening 45.

The second half began with a flurry as chances fell at either end, with Alejandro Faurlin coming closest to opening the scoring for QPR, but he fluffed his shot with the goal gaping - but his missed effort was soon to be bettered by Walcott's miss of the match.

The winger was put through by a fabulous ball from Ramsey as they looked to break from a QPR corner, but as he reached the area one-on-one with Cerny, the former Southampton man dragged his shot well wide.

It didn't matter too much for the Gunners however, as they took the lead with half an hour to go through Van Persie.

QPR seemed to have won a corner but a goal-kick was indicated by Atkinson, not linesman Simon Beck, and the Gunners used the opportunity to break up field, with the much-maligned Arshavin finding Van Persie in space to slot past Cerny at his near-post.

It was to be Arshavin's last - and only - moment of note as he was substituted for Gervinho soon after.

The African winger was quickly involved in the action, but missed another absolute sitter for Arsenal as he passed the ball wide from in front of goal having been set up by Van Persie.

QPR were spurred on and began to attack as the game ebbed away, but looked likely to be caught on the counter-attack.

While Rangers had plenty of possession towards the end, they could not find a way past the Arsenal defence, with Per Mertesacker in particular putting in some important blocks and headers, as the Wenger's side secured the three points that sees them break back into the top four.

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