The focus of our pre-match talk was on the certain return of Thierry Henry. Fans' immediate reaction to the news seem to be divided between those who hailed the King's return without reservation and those who were sceptical about his pace and fitness being able to cope with the Premier League's speed and vigour at the age of 34 years and thus feared that his return might tarnish his legendary status at Arsenal. Amongst the latter, some are unhappy with reputedly frugal Arsene Wenger's decision to opt for the two-month loan deal of the 34 year-old player rather than a permanent signing of a younger world-class striker, such as Podolski and Gotze, who have been linked to Arsenal for some time. At the Arsenal Playa Flamenca Supporters Club, our collective view on this issue is a wait and see. While he will have a positive influence in the dressing room and training ground without doubt with his winning mentality, loyalty to the Club and experience, whether he can make an impact on the pitch is yet to be seen.
The game was another frustrating affair, but the biggest difference from Wolves game was that we got the result we wanted. The three points out of this match took us to the fourth spot in the table, leapfrogging Chelsea, who lost 3-1 to Aston Villa at home on the same day, and Liverpool, who had briefly occupied the fifth place following their defeat of Newcastle on the previous night. We ended the very difficult year in the top four.
Another difference was that Arsenal's frustration in the previous match was largely attributed to the opponents' goalkeeper, Hennessey's stunning performance and Wolves stubborn defence, while in this game our own players' futility was the main culprit. With more clinical finishing, Arsenal could have sealed the victory much more comfortably.
With both Manchester clubs dropping three points this weekend, the title race looked wide open. However, we, Arsenal fans, are more realistic than people might think after the very difficult start to the season. Our target, for now anyway, is to finish the season in the Champions League spot.
Made some good stops at early stage. There was an unconvincing handling, but he recovered well to save the follow-on.
Dealt with Taarabt relatively well.
Played OK. No problem.
Our best defender again. Looked solid.
Very unlucky to be booked due to the mistaken identity. Withdrawn early due to a calf strain, which could sideline him for two to three weeks. Another left-back we have lost.
Mixed performance. He orchestrated attacking moves, including an inch-perfect through pass to Walcott. On the other hand, he gave away the ball too often. If he wants to achieve his target of double-digit goals, he has to improve his finishing.
I would definitely like to see Henry taking free-kicks on the left-hand side instead of Arteta any day of the week.
Again, his passing left much to be desired. On the defensive side, he covered the back four well.
He never hides his desire to become a central striker and he had a brilliant chance to show what he can do. Unfortunately, he failed to take it. His finish completely lacked composure. Thierry Henry would have certainly slotted it home.
Apart from the pass that set up the winning goal for RVP, he had little impact. He was lazy and ineffective defensively, hence Rosicky's introduction in his place. Work rate is the reason why Gervinho is always selected before Arshavin.
Van Persie: 8
We can rely on him when it matters.
Replaced injured Vermaelen at left-back in the 56th minute. Being essentially a midfielder, he made more forward runs than Vermaelen and created chances. As it happened, QPR's right flank did not pose as much threat as expected, he played OK defensively, too.
Came in for Arshavin in the 68th minute, 8 minutes after RVP's winning goal. Good substitution as protecting a one-goal lead is always difficult with Arshavin in defence.
He made the immediate difference as soon as he came on at 74th minute, but wasted at least two clear-cut chances.
Martin Atkinson: 4
Vermaelen's yellow card mystified all of us as well as the player himself and it turned out that Koscielny was the intended recipient. Arsenal had two penalty shouts for handball turned down. If the handball by Gary Caldwell of Wigan in their game against Stoke was indeed a red-card offence, these should have had the same treatment.