It's Samba Time as Hope is Restored...
QPR 2-1 Arsenal
QPR denied in form Arsenal their eight consecutive Premier League victory, as goals from Adel Taarabt and Samba Diakete, gave the R's a vital victory in what was one of their best performances of the season so far...
With Jenson extending his stay in Cyprus, I first met with PK and Corp before the game and enjoyed a pint or two in the Blue and White bar. Lee, Jess and Sam had arrived early and had, what could be now, a lucky pre match Nandos. They did so before the Liverpool game and it turned into a lucky omen. Guys, I have booked you a table at 6pm ahead of the Swansea game on the 11th ;)
California Hoop and Luke arrived at last knockings and we made our way to our seats in good time to see the teams take the field. When they did, the normal Premier League precession and handshakes took place, before what I have never seen before at a QPR home game. From the handshake, the Arsenal team proceeded to line up in the centre circle and wave at the crowd?? What on earth is all that about?? I mean, how arrogant and smug could a team be??
Onto the game and from the start, Rangers were straight into Arsenal's faces, a tactic that has proved their undoing in the past and we certainly were not overwhelmed by our in form opponents. The first R's chance of note came from Taarabt's free kick, which was headed over by Bobby Zamora. The positive start had certainly fired up the home crowd and Loftus Road was rocking!
On 22 minutes, Rangers good start was rewarded with a goal and a fine goal it was too - Adel Taarabt picked up Hill's pass, beat Vermaelen with some fancy footwork and wrapped a low curling shot round Szczesny for what was surpirsingly, his first goal of the season.
The goal seemed to liven up the Gunners, who had lots of possession, but Rangers were holding firm at the back. But on 37 minutes and almost out of nowhere, came an equaliser - Walcott's initial effort beat Paddy Kenny, rebounded off the post and at his second attempt, the player who PK amusingly referred to as an 'overated tart', smashed the rebound home. Despite the setback, the team left the field at half time to a standing ovation from the home crowd.
Onto the second half and Arsenal had the first chance, but Kieran Gibbs headed tamely wide. Jamie Mackie was denied a penalty, when chasing a long ball, was bundled over by Laurent Koscielny, but Mike Dean wasn't at all interested. Robin Van Persie then went through on goal but was denied by a superb save from Paddy Kenny.
Just as Arsenal were starting to get on top, Rangers again made the breakthrough on 66 minutes - Barton clipped a ball forward and Jamie Mackie was rewarded for his perseverance, when Koscielny lost his footing, he cut the ball back for Samba Diakete to smash the ball into the top corner and Loftus Road again, went absolutely beserk.
Arsenal then threw on Chamakh and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but Rangers continued to hold firm and could well have extended the lead, had Joey Barton's effort not been superbly saved by Szczesny. The Arsenal stopper also came forward for a late corner as the Gunners tried to throw everything at us in stoppage time, but the final whistle soon followed to bring the R's another fantastic home win and three crucial points.
QPR: Kenny, Diakite, Hill, Derry, Taarabt, Mackie, Barton, Taiwo, Ferdinand, Onuoha, Zamora (Wright-Phillips 90) Subs not used: Cerny, Gabbidon, Campbell, Bothroyd, Buzsaky, Young.
Man of the Match - as you could imagine, lots of contenders for this and they all could have been well justified. But here at LH, we do a simple vote system and it went with myself going for Samba Diakete, Jess voting for Taye Taiwo, Lee opting for the impressive Adel Taarabt and Corp going for Jamie Mackie. Luke had to dash off to a Charity function soon after the game so didn't vote this time, but votes from Sam, PK, Jointy and California Hoop, today's award goes to SHAUN DERRY!! Other mentions must go to Clint Hill once more for another solid display with Anton Ferdinand at the back, and Captain, Joey Barton, who from being dropped last week, came back to produce his finest performance to date in an R's shirt, long may it continue. Bobby Zamora(which incidentally, was a late vote from Luke who texted in) also, led the line superbly up front on his own.
In summary, I personally thought that was Rangers best performance of the season and after the doom and gloom of the Sunderland outing, hopes have been lifted once more. As mentioned on more than one occasion, the run in looks horrendous, but as already proved, the big teams certainly bring the best out of the Rangers. It certainly isn't over yet...
Lee will return next Sunday as we travel North to outplay and secure a vital victory against the current Champions and League Leaders, Manchester United. Carlberg don't do match reports...
Come on You R'sssssssssss!!