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Premier League

  • December 31, 2011
  • • 10:00 AM
  • • 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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Lone goal from the Dutch striker enough to secure three points as visitors impress but cannot get past defensive wall, while the home side blows countless chances

Arsenal picked up a vital three points as its Premier League rivals dropped points with a vital Robin van Persie goal in a 1-0 victory over QPR on Saturday.

It was a tight game settled by a fairly simple goal as the Dutch striker was played in by Andrey Arshavin and slotted home in the 60th minute, but it was by no means a simple match. The visitors played well throughout and can perhaps find themselves hard done by to be going home empty handed.

Arsene Wenger looked to tweak the team that drew against Wolves, 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.

It was a quiet opening 10 minutes to the match, with both teams keeping the ball nicely enough without really threatening, until Jay Bothroyd struck the first shot of the match from 20 yards out, forcing a save from Wojciech Szczesny low to his left.

This was quickly followed by a good move from Rangers as Adel Taarabt pushed a ball through for Shaun Wright-Phillips to latch onto, 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.

QPR seemed to be dealing well in the opening 20 minutes, but the next 10 were nightmarish for the visitors as Arsenal laid siege.

Van Persie came close three times, with a header, a dinked effort 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.

The ball struck the right back on the leg and then on his outstretched arm, and can count himself slightly fortunate to have gotten away with that one.

Atkinson then 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.

Ramsey then came as close as Arsenal had done all game just before halftime, but his volley from the edge of the area was headed off the line by skipper Joey Barton after Van Persie's corner.

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.

His effort was by no means the worst miss of the match though, as Walcott had a howler in front of goal.

The winger was put through with a fabulous through ball from Ramsey as they looked to break from a QPR corner, but as he reached the area, and one-on-one with Cerny, he 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 the one and only Van Persie.

QPR seemed to have won a corner but a goal kick was indicated by Atkinson, not linesman Simon Beck.

Arsenal used the opportunity to break up field, and the much-maligned Arshavin found 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 soon 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 was spurred on and began to attack as the game ebbed away, but looked likely to be caught on the counterattack.

While Rangers had plenty of possession towards the end, it couldn't find a way past the Arsenal defense, with Mertesacker in particular putting in some important blocks and headers.

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