It was vitally important that Arsenal held on to beat QPR at the Emirates on Boxing day, there is no doubt about that. After playing like puddings and throwing away two points with some awful defending against the 10 men of Liverpool and with tough away games at West Ham and Southampton to follow, the Gunners could not afford to let the points slip with our own 10 man performance.
Wojciech Szczesny and Mathieu Flamini were bullish about the rearguard action after the game, with the keeper praising the performance and spirit of the Arsenal players and especially the defence. He certainly seems happy, even though Arsenal did concede a penalty and were under serious pressure for the last quarter of an hour, claiming that he did not feel that QPR got close to getting that damaging second goal.
Szczesny told Arsenal Player, “I thought under pressure in the last 10 or 15 minutes we defended really well.
“It was always going to be very difficult when they scored the first goal, we knew we were in for a very hard 15 or so minutes. I thought we did well, they didn’t really create anything, so that was a positive.
“I thought we played well. We put ourselves under pressure with a sending off but I thought we should have finished the game much earlier than that.
“We suffered a little bit at the end because they put two players up front and put us under pressure. It was tough but in the end it was a very important three points.
“It’s huge for us. We know we have a massive game in two days again, so we’re going to have to recover very quickly. We have to be at our best again because West Ham have been brilliant recently. It’s going to be a difficult game but I’m hoping for three points.”
Flamini’s thoughts were of a similar nature, as an Arsenal.com report shows. The French midfielder felt that there was a huge improvement from the showing against Liverpool at Anfield and he reckons that the character and performance should see Arsenal in good stead and allow the players to go to West Ham in a much better frame of mind.
Flamini said, “It was a great performance, especially when it was difficult after being 10 against 11. We showed great character on the pitch and that was important.
“I thought it [penalty] was a bit hard on us but we will forgive him… it’s Christmas.
“The team showed great character and we knew we had to defend better after Liverpool. It was a good game for us and now we have to recover because we play again in less than 24 hours.
“We knew that our manager is a legend and he proved it once again today.”
But I think that another way of looking at it is that we should have cruised to victory over the struggling Londoners. Surely a four or five goal thumping and a clean sheet would have been a lot better for our self-belief. The fact that we nearly threw the win away after completely dominating QPR for most of the game seems to me to be a real reason for concern. What do you guys think?