Premier League: QPR 0 Arsenal 1
By Football News
Theo Walcott scored after 20 seconds as Arsenal beat QPR 1-0 at Loftus Road on Saturday.
It was the fastest goal of the season in the Premier League and the quickest Arsenal have ever scored since the competition was formed in 1992, as they extended their unbeaten league run to eight games.
The game was settled by Walcott's strike, when he picked up a Mikel Arteta pass inside the area to fire beyond Rob Green. The England man twice came close to adding to his tally when in the first half he hit the post and in the second forced a good save from Green.
QPR made four changes to their starting line-up, with Tal Ben-Haim, Andros Townsend, Ji-Sung Park and Bobby Zamora coming in. Arsenal made one enforced change, as Nacho Monreal replaced the injured Kieran Gibbs.
Arsenal had never beaten QPR in the Premier League but they made the perfect start with Walcott's opener. Tomas Rosicky created space on the right-hand side, his cross found its way to Mikel Arteta on the edge of the area and the Spaniard played an intricate throughball, giving Walcott plenty of time to force his effort past Rob Green
Despite having plenty of the ball, Arsenal struggled to fashion much after that opener in terms of opportunities, but in the 26th minute Rosicky found Walcott on the right-hand side of the box. He turned sharply but saw his effort turned onto the post by Green.
The home side had a great chance to level soon afterwards when a quick counter-attack led to the lively Townsend finding Park in the box, but he put his effort well over the crossbar when he should have at least hit the target. Neat footwork by Zamora then led to another Park opportunity, although this time he could only force a corner.
The away side continued to dominate possession but they were almost caught out by a fierce 20-yard strike by Ben-Haim. Wojciech Szczesny made the save. Townsend then bent a free-kick from the left of the area wide of the right-hand post.
QPR began the second half with greater intent and twice went close to drawing level. First, Townsend cut in from the right before unleashing a thunderous effort that Szczesny palmed to safety before Loic Remy turned inside Bacary Sagna but hit a tame effort at the goalkeeper.
Arsene Wenger's side were struggling to make much of their possession, but Arteta should have done better when he found space in the box only to hit his effort straight at Green.
Walcott then came close to doubling his tally, as he outmuscled Ben-Haim before producing a low drive from the left of the box that Green got down early to stop and force the corner.
Zamora felt that he should have had a penalty in the 78th minute when he controlled the ball facing away from goal and, after jostling for position with Laurent Koscielny, fell to the ground - although it appeared the striker had simply lost his balance.
Szczesny then produced to a terrific save to keep the scores level. The ball found its way to Remy on the left-hand side of the area and he hit a curling first-time effort that was destined for the far corner, but the Pole made a brilliant save to his left.
Arsenal hung on for a victory to move into third position as they look to claim a UEFA Champions League position.