Next up is Saturday’s 3 o’clock kick off at Loftus Road. Our last meeting with Queens Park Rangers, on 31st December, ended with a van Persie strike netting us the three points at the Emirates. That goal was Reliant Robin’s 35th of the year and moved him one goal clear of Thierry Henry’s previous record.
Since our last meeting QPR have swapped Neil Warnock for Mark Hughes, in the manager’s chair, and signed Djibril Cisse. However the new striker will not be available for this game as a result of his dismissal during last week’s 3 - 1 away defeat by Sunderland.
That defeat ensured that Rangers stay in the relegation zone, on twenty-five points, only goal difference keeping them above nineteenth placed Wigan Athletic.
A few weeks ago Arsenal fans would have been severely worried at the prospect of a visit to a lowly, relegation battling side particularly since their last home game was a 3 - 2 win over Liverpool when they battled back from two goals down with thirteen minutes left to take all three points. Now, however, the return to fitness of our two full-backs, Bacary Sagna and Kirean Gibbs, has given a feeling of solidity to the defence and there has been a general resurgence which has brought an unbeaten run of eight games with the last seven being wins.
Having said that, this game certainly cannot be taken lightly. I’m pretty sure that our present squad are a lot more realistic when it comes to playing “lesser” sides than previously was the case. With Barton opposing them they know they will be in for a fight not, I hope, literally of course but you know what I mean.
QPR could see the return from long term injuries of DJ Campbell and Heidar Helguson, former Gunner Armand Traore is doubtful with a hamstring injury. England international Shaun Wright-Phillips will no doubt provide a test for our fit again full-backs. Other players to watch out for are Adel Taraabt and Bobby Zamora.
At the Friday press conference Arsene Wenger said that Laurent Koscielny was “90%” to be in the squad. By this I expect the defence to be unchanged from last week’s starting line-up. With no new injury worries the team should look something like this.
Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs
Rosicky Song Arteta
Can Gunners extend seven match winning run?
In the words of Bob the Builder
Yes we can !