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Champions League spot favourites Arsenal in tricky battle against relegation fighters QPR

March 30, 2012 By Angela Asante
With a win against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, Arsenal will take their tally to 8 games unbeaten in the Premier League.
They are placed 3rd in the table and the other similarity they share with their opponents other than geography is that Rangers are also 3rd but from the opposite end of the table.

A new manager galvanizes a club and the footballing world expected a manager of Mark Hughes pedigree to do just that. Under him, QPR have 1 win in 10 Premier League games. The solitary win against Liverpool was a insane story of the Reds capitulating to ship 3 goals in the final 13 minutes squandering a 2 goal lead. Shocking to say the least.

Bobby Zamora who was shipped out from Fulham has found the net just once in 7 league games. Djibriel Cisse has received 2 red cards in 4 matches while netting 3 goals in 5 matches. He’s costing the team in this relegation dogfight even after scoring crucial goals.

Other high profile names are not showing up like Joey Barton, Heidar Helguson and the enigmatic Shaun Wright Phillips whose once very bright career has been in major freefall since his unnecessary purchase from Man city by then Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

Recently, Rangers lost to Bolton, Blackburn and Wolves. These are games in which they were hoping to pick up precious points against fellow strugglers who have been in and out of the drop zone all season long.

Now QPR have joined that unenviable group. As if the timing could not have been worse for their plummet down the table, they still have to face Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham. It does not make for good reading for QPR fans.

Arsenal are a study in contrast. 7 games unbeaten in the Premier League and a 3-0 win over AC Milan at the Emirates in their Champions League swansong.

Their 4-0 humiliation at the San Siro and subsequent FA cup exit to Sunderland mere days later seem like a distant memory but Arsenal have a knack for the unpredictable and one bad result could send them toppling again. It would be bad timing because Chelsea and spurs have decided to kick into a higher gear.

Interestingly, the absence of Aaron Ramsey and Bacary Sagna’s return heralded the resurgence of an Arsenal side given up for dead beginning in that North London win over Tottenham. Indeed, this raises questions as to Ramsey’s effectiveness in the squad.

Other players like Kieran Gibbs, Tomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott and Thomas Vermalaen have all begun to step up to the plate and it looks like a case of Arsenal reborn. Maybe that very intense shellacking from former player Emmanuel Petit who advocated jettisoning the likes of Walcott and Rosicky was an inadvertent catalyst to kick start the remainder of a tottering campaign.

In their last match against Aston Villa, Walcott and Gibbs netted a goal apiece making them the first English duo to score in the same match since 1997. In the past, Arsene Wenger’s always taken a lot of stick for fielding the most “foreign” team in the Premier League and his faith in these young men seem to be paying off.

Arteta rolled back the clock to his early Everton days when he regularly scored the sort of stunner he did against Villa. Wenger seems to have restrained Arteta in a more defensive role but would perhaps consider giving him more of a free rein as he was allowed at Merseyside. The only downside will be the absence of Laurent Koscielny at the back to be replaced by Johann Djourou.

Expect no surprises on Saturday in the manner in which QPR humbled Liverpool. Arsenal are up and running and if all else fails, they still have Robin Van Persie who scored the winner against Rangers the last time out.

Wenger’s stuck to his guns and his gunners are going great guns. But Hughes will have to be the tinker man and he has the quality on the bench. Can he get them out of the doldrums? Perhaps. But not on Saturday.



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Group A
Jun 14 11:00amMoscow
Russia vs Saudi Arabia
Jun 15 8:00amYekaterinburg
Egypt vs Uruguay
Jun 19 2:00pmSaint Petersburg
Russia vs Egypt
Jun 20 11:00amRostov-on-Don
Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia
Jun 25 10:00amVolgograd
Saudi Arabia vs Egypt
Jun 25 10:00amSamara
Uruguay vs Russia
Group B
Jun 15 11:00amSaint Petersburg
Morocco vs Iran
Jun 15 2:00pmSochi
Portugal vs Spain
Jun 20 8:00amMoscow
Portugal vs Morocco
Jun 20 2:00pmKazan
Iran vs Spain
Jun 25 2:00pmSaransk
Iran vs Portugal
Jun 25 2:00pmKaliningrad
Spain vs Morocco
Group C
Jun 16 6:00amKazan
France vs Australia
Jun 16 12:00pmSaransk
Peru vs Denmark
Jun 21 8:00amSamara
Denmark vs Australia
Jun 21 11:00amYekaterinburg
France vs Peru
Jun 26 10:00amSochi
Australia vs Peru
Jun 26 10:00amMoscow
Denmark vs France
Group D
Jun 16 9:00amMoscow
Argentina vs Iceland
Jun 16 3:00pmKaliningrad
Croatia vs Nigeria
Jun 21 2:00pmNizhny Novgorod
Argentina vs Croatia
Jun 22 11:00amVolgograd
Nigeria vs Iceland
Jun 26 2:00pmRostov-on-Don
Iceland vs Croatia
Jun 26 2:00pmSaint Petersburg
Nigeria vs Argentina
Group E
Jun 17 8:00amSamara
Costa Rica vs Serbia
Jun 17 2:00pmRostov-on-Don
Brazil vs Switzerland
Jun 22 8:00amSaint Petersburg
Brazil vs Costa Rica
Jun 22 2:00pmKaliningrad
Serbia vs Switzerland
Jun 27 2:00pmMoscow
Serbia vs Brazil
Jun 27 2:00pmNizhny Novgorod
Switzerland vs Costa Rica
Group F
Jun 17 11:00amMoscow
Germany vs Mexico
Jun 18 8:00amNizhny Novgorod
Sweden vs Korea Republic
Jun 23 11:00amRostov-on-Don
Korea Republic vs Mexico
Jun 23 2:00pmSochi
Germany vs Sweden
Jun 27 10:00amKazan
Korea Republic vs Germany
Jun 27 10:00amYekaterinburg
Mexico vs Sweden
Group G
Jun 18 11:00amSochi
Belgium vs Panama
Jun 18 2:00pmVolgograd
Tunisia vs England
Jun 23 8:00amMoscow
Belgium vs Tunisia
Jun 24 8:00amNizhny Novgorod
England vs Panama
Jun 28 2:00pmKaliningrad
England vs Belgium
Jun 28 2:00pmSaransk
Panama vs Tunisia
Group H
Jun 19 8:00amSaransk
Colombia vs Japan
Jun 19 11:00amMoscow
Poland vs Senegal
Jun 24 11:00amYekaterinburg
Japan vs Senegal
Jun 24 2:00pmKazan
Poland vs Colombia
Jun 28 10:00amVolgograd
Japan vs Poland
Jun 28 10:00amSamara
Senegal vs Colombia
Knockout Stage

Round of 16
Jun 30 10:00amKazan
[1C] vs [2D]
Jun 30 2:00pmSochi
[1A] vs [2B]
Jul 1 10:00amMoscow
[1B] vs [2A]
Jul 1 2:00pmNizhny Novgorod
[1D] vs [2C]
Round of 16
Jul 2 10:00amSamara
[1E] vs [2F]
Jul 2 2:00pmRostov-on-Don
[1G] vs [2H]
Jul 3 10:00amSaint Petersburg
[1F] vs [2E]
Jul 3 2:00pmMoscow
[1H] vs [2G]
Quarter Final
Jul 6 10:00amNizhny Novgorod
[W49] vs [W50]
Jul 6 2:00pmKazan
[W53] vs [W54]
Jul 7 10:00amSamara
[W55] vs [W56]
Jul 7 2:00pmSochi
[W51] vs [W52]
Jul 10 2:00pmSaint Petersburg
[W57] vs [W58]
Jul 11 2:00pmMoscow
[W59] vs [W60]
Third place match
Jul 14 10:00amSaint Petersburg
[L61] vs [L62]
Jul 15 11:00amMoscow
Final: FIFA World Cup 2018