The Michael Jeffares Column – Arsenal’s QPR hoodoo

Hello and welcome to my weekly column, I still recovering from Dave’s kind words in the lead up to this revamped website and I hope you enjoy my rambles as I’m very much looking forward to being a part of this ‘new’ site.

But without further ado lets focus on Queens Park Rangers this Saturday because let’s face it, this is a massive match at the start of a huge five days for us, culminating in the game at Stamford Bridge next Wednesday between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.

After that game we might just have some balance in the league table and most of the hypothetical predictions can end but I will be honest here, I hate playing at Loftus Road and I never go into games at that ground with any confidence. It puzzled me as to why I would have such feelings against a club, even though they are already relegated, so I decided to do some digging in terms of results which led me to remebering why. 

Arsenal 1 QPR 0 – 27.10.13

A horrible game following back to back defeats to Norwich City and Schalke 04; one of our lowest points of the season. But we salavaged a massive three points mainly thanks to Vito Mannone staying big against a marauding Jamie Mackie run in stoppage time.

QPR 2 Arsenal 1 – 31.05.12

An absolute horror show despite six straight wins in the lead up to that game. Thomas Vermaelen’s decline was evident in this fixture but we did have some big chances, mainly falling to an out-of-sorts Dutchman, but this game was also one of the first for Aaron Ramsey on the wing.  

Arsenal 1 QPR 0 – 31.12.11

Another tight affair probably better known for Theo Walcott’s appalling attempt on a 1v1 than RVP’s solitary strike. 

Now two wins from three is pretty respectable but our performances always seem to be below par, something we can ill afford at this time of the season. QPR seem to match up well against us, three goals in a 270 minutes of Premier League action isn’t exactly anything to write home about and two of those three strikes heavily involved a certain Andrey Arshavin. Yet on their compact pitch, QPR will pack their defence to stifle our attack, which is a trait QPR have used against us before in the top flight and that is when I remembered why I disliked playing them because we rarely win there.

Here’s a few more results from our time at Loftus Road before QPR were relegated from the Premier League in 95/96:

2/3/96 Drew 1-1

8/4/95 Lost 3-1

27/4/94 Drew 1-1

2/9/92 Drew 0-0

18/1/92 Drew 0-0

24/11/90 Won 3-1

Not the best of records is it? And yes, it was a while ago but needless to say those sides fielded some cracking players.  In fact that 3-1 win saw a dramatic turnaround as we scored three in the final ten minutes. I’m not here to drain every inch of confidence out of you though (despite six consecutive league games without a win at Loftus Road), I have a plan. Sometimes in the Premier League you have to adopt different strategies and tactics but this game won’t involve a change in formation or personnel. I see it as more of an opportunity to utilise this 4-3-3 to it’s full potential. We need to play through the middle and forget the wings. Last season we attempted 17 crosses of which four were successful because their centre backs, like most pros, can deal with the bread and butter of standard crosses into the box. What we need to do is isolate the likes of Clint Hill and Nedum Onuoha (assuming they start) and we need to see plenty movement and interchanging between the likes of Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky and possibly Jack Wilshere.

Cazorla can play a key role on the left, a role which I can’t stand to see him occupy. The Loftus Road pitch is two metres shorter in width compared to The Emirates, and I think that will allow him to roam off the frontman (Lukas Podolski) and it may see us operate a lopsided 4-4-2. Cazorla loves to be on the ball but he also likes to pop a pass off and move ahead of the ball, something he is restricted in doing when he usually plays on the left wing because he doesn’t have the pace to beat most full-backs to the byeline. But when he comes inside he creates mismatches, players switch off because they don’t know whether to track their man or pass him on to someone else and that means he finds space, which will be at a premium.

If I’m honest I’d also consider starting Walcot at striker and see if we can thread balls and take advantage of the aging Hill. Arsene Wenger is likely to stick with Podolski (and yes, I’m ignoring Gervinho) and to be fair the German deserves a run a striker but the uncertainty about his future and his injury status poses more questions that answers at present. But Poldi has had little time at striker and it’s hard to judge him on one game against United. What I do know is he’ll feel better for the run out up top in his desired position.

The key though lies in our midfield three, as it has done on some many occasions before. Do we start with two defensive midfielders in Mikel Arteta and Ramsey or do we go with a Wilshere & Rosicky axis with Arteta sitting. I fear the latter is a bit too bold for Arsene but do we have that much to fear? I don’t buy into the argument that QPR will up their game because they are relaxed, if anything it should mean they care less because they already know the consequences of their inept displays. The one factor that could possibly play a part is Harry Redknapp. Like most Gooners I can’t stand the bloke but he will have his side motivated to get one over on us and the first thing we have to do on Saturday is match their energy and determination, once we’ve achieved that our ability should do the talking.

Overall, we have been poor of late as our clinical edge has deserted us in the last three fixtures but the players seem to realise the importance of this game and we could easily wrap it up in the first 45 minutes; but that’s not how we operate. We will never happen a better chance to beat them and notch our first league win at Loftus Road in 13 years, so come on Arsenal get us three points and lets put the pressure on Chelsea in the race for Champions League qualification. Its a cliche but we have three cup finals left and I’m hoping that by our home game against Wigan Athletic that we can secure what we know the club strives to achieve.

I hope you enjoyed my first blog on here, I will be mixing it up every week, as I do tend to like to focus on analysing players performance and I do love a good statistic but that’ll come once the season ends. I’d be interested to know what area of the pitch you feel we can take advantage of on Saturday and what line up you think Wenger will select.

Michael Jeffares

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3 Responses to The Michael Jeffares Column – Arsenal’s QPR hoodoo

  1. w@gmail.com May 3, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    So don't be surprised Harry puts aspanner in the gunners cl dreams.QPR have nothing to lose .

  2. Morgan.richard5@sky.com May 3, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    Good post rambles a bit aimlessly on our past record at April but still good. qpr will be difficult but we have quality the biggest concern is that we have failed to produce a performance all match for a long time. We have had a good run of results even though we have played poorly in some games. I think we will win this 3 1 but the next two games will be big for us. I believe Chelsea will lose next two and spurs to draw and win their next two. Leaving us and spuds in pole position going into final weekend of season and hopefully Newcastle will be safe by that time so they will be able looking to summer break. Our big banana skin is Wigan they have been playing well but not getting the luck I still think they may go down and might be this week if they not careful

  3. goonermite May 3, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

    First post I've done but I've gotta say, Cazorla on left is bit of a no no. However, rosicky is the man in central attacking role at moment…energetic, roaming all over and putting a defensive shift in. He drives everything forward and is the best option.Walcott is infuriating but could be a way through on ex-arsenal man Traore and the perenially injured Jenas. I'm a bit tired of the attack continually going through the middle, so I would like some variation to our game with a few crosses coming in…if possible. Overall, we should have enough in the tank to win but they've gotta be up for it….something lacking at times during season. Come on lads, do the business! COYG!

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