QPR Preview: Take A Bus, Take A Train, Take A Boat, Take A Plane…
Eight straight wins in the Premier League. Arsène is not targetting Manchester City and his notorious myopia is returning; he is not seeing anything beyond Queens Park Rangers. Some believe this is a match where turning up will garner three points; not the manager, not the players if his words are an accurate reflection of the training complex,
We are in a position that nobody expected us to be in and we want to strengthen that position from now on. That depends on our performances.
I see us fighting like mad on Saturday to win the game. That’s all I see, I don’t see further. We are focused on QPR, believe me. We know that is always a tricky game for everybody and that is what is important to us. After that we focus on the next one and our capability to finish the season in a strong way depends on just how much we focus on every game.
This is a more testing afternoon than Arsenal have experienced for a while; they are the only ones with a tricky encounter, Chelsea and Spurs have what you would expect to be relatively straightforward wins. Recent weeks have mostly seen the other two London clubs with tougher fixtures but this should not detract from the achievement of turning around sixteen points since January to overhaul a deficit and establish a lead in the race for third. There is no sign, publicly at least, of arrogance or complacency from the players in their efforts for the remainder of the season. The experience of the earlier fumbles are etched into the souls,
Things can change very quickly. Our sport is fragile and we have learned something this season from a very difficult period. Urgency and focus are vital to keep your level up.
QPRs travails are not surprising but the good performances of Norwich and Swansea underline that money cannot guarantee success. Rangers have a tough run-in and look likely to drop unless Bolton or Blackburn stumble more. They have shown fighting spirit coming back from two goals down to beat Liverpool. That tells you everything you need to know; The R’s are there for the taking but will make you fight for the win, give them an opening and they have the players to take advantage and Liverpool are a pale imitation of their former selves.
Previous campaigns have floundered at this stage, when the pressure was on. There was a lack of spine in the squad, the pressure of injury and/or expectation too much. This time the manager does not believe there will be a repeat of that collapse,
I don’t believe in coincidences. Certainly it is impossible to measure but they have certainly been an influential part in that with many other players who have a good spirit as well. The captain is the leader of the team and of course they have played a vital part in that. I believe that the whole team dynamic was very strong, very positive and that had a massive impact. We were going through difficult periods and we recovered because the players never gave up in the dressing room and that was a vital part.
I feel overall this has been one of the best seasons in the dressing room. We will see where we finish but I am sure of one thing; we will give our best until the end of the season.
There he has said it, admission that the previous dressing rooms have lacked leadership. It is a failing in choosing captains that has been rectified this season; star players are not always the best choice, they need character as well. Robin van Persie has that and is willing to ruffle feathers if performances are not up to scratch. Combine that with other senior professionals who are new and the cosy coiterie that was previously ruling the dressing room is seen to be too cosy to be effective. That is not say disharmony exists, far from it, simply that too friendly can be as negative as internecine quarrels.
Disharmony is of course, something that the manager is an expert on, his relations with European referees is once more in the depths. The ban he received was expected, a similarly low expectation exists over his appeal. Quite why he approaches referees is beyond comprehension. He knows that they will stand there squealing like a young teenage girl seeing a friend for the first time in half-an-hour. What is the point? The bans are ineffective, Arsenal perform as well as required without the manager on the touchline. Perhaps Arsène felt he might need an imaginary foe to create a siege mentality. Hmmm, a Frenchman with a siege mentality…elderberries and hamsters anyone?
So to the team news which is good. It is amazing how not having midweek games reduces the stresses and strains, players recover for the next match with seemingly little side or after effect. With that in mind, you would think that the team which faced Everton will be the one that starts today,
Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Song, Rosicky; Walcott, van Persie, Ramsey
A win gentlemen, please for that is what you have proven you are capable of.
Finally, my thoughts go to Stylian Petrov and his family at this moment and wish him all the best in his fight against his illness.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.