On a rare visit to these shores I managed to blag a ticket to join our wonderful away support at Loftus Road.
It was also the first time I’ve been to that stadium, which is bizarre as I’m a born-and-bred Londoner and have been to all the other London grounds. Even Dulwich Hamlet.
The experience of attending games at the Emirates and at older grounds like QPR is now so stark that it’s almost like going to a different sport altogether. However, there is a charm to the old places that is distinctly lacking from the new super-stadia.
Anyway, on to the game.
It was a match that pleasingly fulfilled a host of footballing clichés: a game of two halves; we were forced to dig deep; Ollie scored a poacher’s goal and so on.
In the first half we started slowly and then put the handbrake on. The Rs were up for a battle and made the game very physical. We were unable to take control of the ball in midfield which meant we were soaking up a lot of pressure and our defenders looked nervous – hacking the ball away rather than playing it out.
During this period our defenders did well. Paulista won most of his challenges and headers before being forced off with a hamstring injury. The BFG was dominant in the air and marshaled the back line well and both Gibbs and Bellerin were dogged in their work.
As for Francis Coquelin – he turned up dressed for a Venetian masked ball and proceeded to patrol the area in front of our defence like a Renaissance duelist (younger readers, think Assassins Creed), never shirking a challenge. His composure on the ball is also something to behold.
It was something of a relief to get to half time 0-0. QPR had few clear cut chances but it felt like the sort of game where we would inevitably concede a goal if we couldn’t get off the back foot.
Fortunately we came out much more positively in the second half – attacking towards the noisy away support behind the goal. Beer had been consumed so the exact events are a bit of a blur, but Ozil and Rosicky really got in the game and began dictating play; Sanchez worked as tirelessly as ever and Giroud showed for everything.
With good wide support from Gibbs and Bellerin we began to properly threaten and the Rangers players started to tire.
The breakthrough game after some good work down our left from Gibbs, who got a low cross into the near post for Ollie to poke home. It wasn’t a spectacular goal, but you have to give credit to our French Stallion for being alert to the situation and getting there first.
Cue much relief among the Arsenal fans (we were already aware that scores elsewhere were not going our way).
And shortly after we felt even safer when Alexis picked up a ball from Gibbs and twisted and turned his way into the box before deceiving Green in the QPR goal with a low reverse shot just inside the near post. A lovely piece of skill and imagination.
Two-nil and we relaxed a little. In the ensuing 10 minutes or so we had two or three good opportunities – the best falling to Alexis who found himself in a one-on-one with Green. Alexis tried to slip it to Ozil on the right but Green read it and cleared up.
And then we came over all Arsenally. With the game looking safe we switched off and in a split second Rangers were back in the game at 1:2 from a well hit Charlie Adam shot after Gibbs and Koscielny backed away from him.
It made for a nervy last 10 minutes but we held on and we were able to bring home a very important three points.
Some thoughts on individual players: Ozil is an absolute joy to watch – he seems to think at a faster pace than the players around him; Santi – while not quite up to Man City away form – was always available to relieve pressure with his close control; Ospina is starting to look like our real Number One; Giroud’s strike rate is starting to nudge him towards “top, top striker” level – do we really need to look elsewhere in the summer?