Arsenal continued their quest for a top-four with a precious away win against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road. Goals from Alexis Sánchez and Olivier Giroud were enough to see off the challenge from the resilient Hoops.
We take a look at the key talking points from the QPR and Arsenal match –
Alexis back to goal-scoring ways
Struggling for goals after netting a bagful since his summer arrival from Barcelona, Alexis Sánchez finally scored after firing blank for almost two months. The Chilean scored his last goal for the Gunners on January 11 in the 3-0 home romp against Stoke. The Arsenal top scorer ended his 6-game barren streak, netting from an acute angle past Robert Green in QPR’s goal to double his sides’ advantage. The goal, his 13th in the league, will give him a much needed boost, and will have Arsene Wenger relieved to see his star man aiding the Gunners’ Champions League ambitions.
Austin impervious, but over-reliance on him might haunt QPR
QPR fought hard, but couldn’t sink Arsenal. The Gunners were made to toil to come out of the game with maximum points, but eventually succeeded as QPR succumbed defeat. One man who is leading the Hoops’ charge for survival is Charlie Austin. Premier League’s 3rd top scorer, the league’s highest scoring Englishman is giving his all, but sadly for his side, there seems to be no light ahead of the tunnel. Despite netting his 15th of the season, all Austin could do was see his side slip in to the relegation zone. The 25-year-old’s contribution has been vital, but Chris Ramsey’s whole squad needs improvement if they are to avoid the drop.
Arsenal cannot risk Gabriel
Arsenal’s 2-0 home win against Everton was credited to their solidarity at the back, which included a full Premier League debut for Gunners’ Brazilian recruit Gabriel. The former Villareal man allowed Romelu Lukaku little space, and matched the Belgian’s space to make a well timed tackle in the box. Gabriel’s second Premier League start didn’t last for long though, lasting just 37 minutes against their Wednesday’s opponents. He looked uncomfortable, and got bullied time and again by the physical Bobby Zamora, before making way for Laurent Koscielny. Risking a rookie defender alien to the physical nature of the English game might turn out perilous for Arsene Wenger at this crucial stage, and should stick to his experienced campaigners in Mertesacker-Koscielny.
Top four battle will go down to the wire
While Arsenal maintained their third spot with a win, victories for Manchester United, Liverpool, Southampton and Tottenham means we can brace ourselves for the most hotly contested top-four race in years. There seems no separating the top two in Chelsea and Manchester City, and the 3rd and 4th spots could be anyone’s at the end of the season. Arsenal are just five clear of 6th placed Southampton, while Manchester United and Liverpool are trailing with even lesser difference, separated by one and three points respectively, just going to show how congested it is.
Same promotion, same relegation.
Gameweek 28 saw QPR, Leicester City and Burnley rooted in the relegation zone, ironically the same teams that got promoted. While it is as congested at the bottom as it is at the top, the aforementioned three might just not be able to avoid the drop. QPR and Leicester City though, have a game in hand, but Burnley’s campaign might have ended with the loss to Liverpool. All three face a mountainous task of dodging the drop, with some miraculous last performance only the savior.
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