QPR 2 Arsenal 1

Arsenal’s seven game winning run game to a shuddering and perhaps unexpected end at Loftus Road in a 2-1 loss. Fighting for their Premiership lives, Adel Taraabt gave the home side the lead, with Theo Walcott levelling before the break. Possession wise Arsenal enjoyed the lions share, but on a poor pitch, chances were few and far between. Just as it appeared as if Arsenal would get a second, Rangers hit again through Samba Diakite for what was to prove to be the winner.

“Our performance was not good enough to win this kind of game.They had a little bit of extra special commitment that took advantage of us in some specific positions defensively.Subconsciously something was missing today. In the Premier League, if you miss something on the commitment front you are beaten,” lamented Arsene Wenger

It has to be said, that Rangers were worthy of the win. Arsenal were just poor, and the players know that they are better than that. The warning signs were there from the start and for anyone who thought that this would be a gimme game, needed to remember that Rangers struck back from a two goal deficit against Liverpool in their last home fixture. On a tight pitch, the Gunners failed to fire when it was needed. Robin Van Persie has been in stunning form and his 26 Premiership goals have been the source of the Gunners’ inspirational recent form. Having given Walcott the assist which the England striker hit after his initial shot struck Paddy Kenny’s upright to rebound and find the target for Walcott’s eighth Premiership strike, we awaited a Gunners surge. Only like the players, it failed to arrive.

Thomas Vermaelen has been the rock at the centre of defence of late, but the Belgian by his own high standards was inexcusably left by Taraabt for the opener, and stung by the direction of a spinning ball for Diakite to get Rangers’ second from James Mackie’s pass. Van Persie had a gilt edged chance to get the Gunners a second, but with the scores level, the Holland striker saw Kenny produce an excellent save, when through one on on with the Rangers’ keeper.

Having seen Tomas Rosicky hit his best form in recent seasons in a central role, it seems that in trying to accommodate Aaron Ramsey’s inclusion Wenger inadvertently gave a battling Rangers the edge. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was again left on the bench, with Walcott’s lively contribution the only evident outlet. The Gunners needed that spark, that kick up the back side to show that they had fight to recover from conceding, but having levelled, they ran out of ideas. Wenger’s Arsenal talk of continuing their winning run fell on deaf players’ ears, and that is a worry.

Booed after being replaced against Liverpool, Joey Barton was up for the fight, and cheered on as Rangers saw two players get their first Premiership goals, Arsenal seemed jaded and unable to comprehend the gravity of their Champions League plight, as if to say we’ll put things right in our next home game at Manchester City. With City coming back from 3-1 to draw 3-3 at home to Sunderland, Chelsea thrashing Aston Villa 4-2 and Spurs to welcome Swansea tomorrow, all is not yet done and dusted for the Champions League places, a fact that the Arsenal players will do well to remember.

It is Arsenal’s ninth Premiership loss, and no matter how you look at it, settling for third or fourth spot has to become a habit the Gunners need to get away from if they want to compete with a genuine title challenge in the near future. Wojciech Szczesny would love nothing better to keep more clean sheets, the concentration issue when Arsenal are not in possession is one the Poland stopper needs to address. He did deny Barton a Rangers third late on, but by that stage the Gunners seemed to have accepted their unsuccessful derby fate.

The players know that any progression will be tough to negotiate, but in relying on Van Persie alone, Wenger knows that his talented and prolific striker needs help when games of this nature come up against teams fighting for their Premiership lives and more.