Belfast Telegraph

Arteta wins it for Gunners

Mikel Arteta's late goal gave Arsenal a much-needed 1-0 win over struggling QPR at the Emirates Stadium, where England midfielder Jack Wilshere returned for the Gunners after more than a year on the sidelines.

Arsenal had endured a difficult spell following the international break with successive defeats at Norwich and Schalke preceding a heated annual general meeting on Thursday.

It was, though, far from a vintage Arsenal display against a hard-working QPR side, who owed much to an inspired performance by goalkeeper Julio Cesar. The Brazilian was finally beaten by Arteta's scrambled effort with eight minutes left after QPR full-back Stephane Mbia had been sent off for kicking out at Gunners defender Thomas Vermaelen.

There was almost a dream return for Wilshere when he collected the ball in midfield and charged to the edge of the QPR penalty area before drilling in a low, left-foot shot which Cesar spilled but then collected as Santi Cazorla looked for a rebound.

Arsenal threatened again on the half-hour as Olivier Giroud's angled shot was parried away before Lukas Podolski crashed a 25-yard free-kick into the defensive wall.

In the 50th minute, a floated free-kick from Arteta into the QPR penalty area was headed goalwards by Per Mertesacker, but Cesar made a good save at full stretch.

At the other end, Junior Hoilett put the ball in the Arsenal net, chipping Gunners goalkeeper Vito Mannone, but play had already been stopped by an offside flag against three QPR players.

The best opening of the game fell to Cazorla after good work from Theo Walcott down the right, but the Spaniard, who had been so impressive before the international break, blasted the ball over from 12 yards.

QPR were reduced to 10 men with 10 minutes left when Mbia was shown a red card for kicking out at Vermaelen after he had been fouled by the Gunners skipper.

QPR continued to defend bravely, as Cesar clawed a deflected clearance onto the post. The visitors' resolve, however, was finally broken in the 84th minute. Arteta bundled the ball in after Giroud's header was saved superbly by Cesar and the Spaniard's follow-up header hit the crossbar.


From Belfast Telegraph