Arsenal face Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League at Loftus Road on Saturday.
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FRESH LEGS - TOMAS ROSICKY
Similarly to last season, Tomas Rosicky has found fitness and form at a crucial time for Arsenal - playing an important part in the Gunners’ fine Premier League form and setting a fast tempo from his advanced midfield position.
In his 62 minutes on the pitch against Manchester United last weekend, Tomas was influential. Barely 90 seconds had elapsed when he produced a delightful turn and pass to assist Theo Walcott’s goal (blue arrow), and he followed that up with a busy and energetic display that put United firmly on the back foot during the opening period.
The majority of his passes were completed around the midway point in United’s half, but the second graphic shows the other - less glamorous - side of his performance. Four ball recoveries (yellow) and two completed tackles (green) all happened in far deeper areas - with half of his defensive contributions coming in Arsenal territory. It was far more than a ‘No 10’ performance from the Czech schemer, whose tireless work all over the pitch helped drive his team forwards throughout the first hour.
KEY BATTLE - KOSCIELNY V REMY
Laurent Koscielny has already crossed paths with Loic Remy, most recently in last season’s Champions League. The centre back and his defensive comrades performed an effective shut-out job against Marseille on October 19, 2011 - to such an extent that the QPR-bound forward was substituted after 69 minutes.
On Saturday they will renew acquaintances, this time in the Premier League, and the form of both players would suggest that theirs might be a more lively battle this time around.
After a stop-start first half of the season, Koscielny has returned to his best form and has forged an effective partnership with Per Mertesacker in recent weeks. One of the league’s more mobile centre backs, his pace and aggression will be necessary to combat the nippy, sharp Remy, who has scored five times in his first 11 Premier League appearances.
Remy’s passing accuracy is fairly ordinary and suggests unremarkable link-up play, so his impact will be limited by ushering him away from goal. Koscielny is comfortable stepping up the pitch to put pressure on attackers before they reach the danger zone, and may well be called upon to do the same this weekend.
You would certainly expect Koscielny to win the aerial and physical battles between the two; Remy’s strength lies when he is facing goal and given a run with the ball at his feet. With 14 shots on target in his 11 games, and a shooting accuracy of 60.9 per cent, he is not afraid to let fly. The key for Arsenal will be to make him play with his back to goal as much as possible.
QPR v ARSENAL - MATCH FACTS
- Arsenal have scored exactly one goal in seven of their last eight Premier League meetings with Queens Park Rangers
- The Gunners have never won at Loftus Road in the Premier League era (D3 L2). They have played more away games against QPR without a win than any other side in the history of the competition
- Overall, only against Manchester United (26 per cent) do the Gunners have a lower Premier League win rate than they do against the R’s (27 per cent)
- Arsenal had 22 shots (including blocked shots) in the reverse meeting with QPR, but only found the net once; in the 84th minute
- Only Manchester United (2.09) have a better points per game average in May than QPR (1.83) in Premier League history
- QPR have now gone 275 minutes (four hours and 35 minutes) without scoring in the Premier League
- The R’s have the worst record in Premier League London derbies this season (nine points), while only Chelsea (17) have won more points from them than Arsenal (16)
- Arsenal have won their last three away league games. They have not won four in a row on the road since November 2010
- QPR are the only team in the Premier League this season yet to win a point with a goal in the final 10 minutes
- Aaron Ramsey has had more shots without scoring than any other player in the Premier League (39, including blocked shots)
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