Arsene Wenger was under no illusion that it was going to be an easy game against relegation-threatened QPR last night, and he was proved right as the Hoops held off Arsenal for over an hour before Oliver Giroud broke the deadlock. Although Alexis scored his first goal for 8 games, Rangers still set up a nail-biting finish by grabbing one back with 8 minutes to go on the clock.
Wenger though was reasonably pleased after the game: “I felt the first 25 minutes were very physical and they stopped us from playing. They had a direct game and for us it was important to put the ball on the ground and get good passes together and not only fight, but fight and play.
“In the second half we did that much better. We did fight and play and we always looked in control in the second half. They came back to 2-1 and then you never know, but it looked like we had a good game and kept them in the game at 2-0. We had a few more chances.”
“We were nervous. I felt that we were nervous and they put a shift in in the first half physically. They paid for that certainly in the second half. They stopped us from playing all over the pitch. Sandro played a big part in that and he had to come off after an hour – maybe it was easier for us to put the ball down and play after that.”
Le Boss was also very happy to see Alexis’ get back on the score-sheet after a barren spell. “It’s good because when you don’t score for seven or eight games it is on your mind, even if you don’t say so. He took his chance well, he’s tricky, had a short back lift and scored a good goal.
“He never gives up and that’s the strength of a good striker as well. He’s resilient and I don’t know what happened before because it looked like, for someone who was desperate to score, he could have taken the chance and he waited for somebody. After that, the fact that he could still score shows that he has the mental strength to respond.”
But we ended up with the three points which was the important thing, and we have finally won two away games in succession at last. According to Wenger we now need just six more wins to secure a Top Four place, and we are currently holding on to Third Place. Wenger continued: “It’s hot [in the top four] because everybody won tonight. We can only focus on our performances and keep going. We have 10 games to go, we play six at home and four away, so we just can focus on our performances.”
Wenger was pressed on whether he believed that his team had the easiest run in compared to the other Top Four contenders, but he would not be drawn into the discussion. “I don’t know, I haven’t studied everybody else. At the moment you fight all the teams who fight not to go down and fight all teams who want to be in Europe. In April some teams are settled and have nothing to go for, it can become a little bit easier. Fixtures that look difficult can become a little bit easier. It’s difficult to predict if it’s us or the other teams who have easier run-ins.”
Lastly, Wenger was pleased that Olivier Giroud had bounced back well from the Monaco comedy show with his second goal in the two following games. “He’s strong mentally.” Le Prof concluded. “He can take some criticism and respond. He’s shown that. I feel it was a bit harsh for him because he missed some chances. That can happen. Where we were guilty was to concede the goal.”
Our win has definitely made the Top Four easily within our grasp as usual, but we must now concentrate all our efforts on winning every game from now to see if we can move even higher in the table….