QPR 2-1 Arsenal: Daily Mirror match report
Published 21:30 01/04/12 By John Cross
Shaun Derry insists QPR will have a big say on the title race and battle for top four.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger’s Champions League ambitions were brought crashing back down to earth by QPR’s growing reputation as big game hunters.
This was supposed to be easy pickings for Arsenal in their battle for third place but they came badly unstuck against Mark Hughes’ battlers as QPR showed more heart and commitment.
QPR have got Manchester United next and also face Chelsea, Spurs and Man City during a tough run-in. But midfielder Derry insists that could be seriously bad news for their opponents.
QPR have slipped up against the teams around them but they have seen off Liverpool, Chelsea and now Arsenal at Loftus Road to give them hope for survival.
Derry said: “There are a lot of psychological angles. I’ve always felt that the pressure is off when you play the top six this season. Nobody expects you to win.
“Perhaps our hard run-in is a positive. Who knows? You’d have said we were mad if you thought we were going to get six points from Liverpool and Arsenal.
“But the pressure is off against the big clubs, against the big five or six. We are up against Manchester United away from home next so again the pressure is off us.
“Our record against the big teams at home has been very, very good. They are up there for a reason as they are the best in the league.
“But it enables us to have the pressure lifted off our shoulders. We relaxed a little bit more going into the game as opposed to the so-called winnable games.
“It is all about mindset now, we need to focus on the task in hand. It is going to take some huge performances and great results to keep us in the Premier League.”
QPR mixed a touch of class and skill with their gritty determination against Arsenal and Moroccan forward Adel Taarabt finally scored his first Premier League goal. Taarabt was superb in the Championship last season but has struggled to adapt this term and his quality and temperament has been doubted.
Derry said: “He is young. He is very immature as a player but that will give him massive confidence. Hopefully he can produce those type of performances between now and the middle of May.
“There is a lot of responsibility on his shoulders after what he did last year. Everyone was looking for Adel to be the shining light.
“It’s not been the case, just as it hasn’t been the case with the new players that have arrived. But hopefully we can look back in May and say this was one of the highlights.”
QPR boss Hughes admitted he has devised his own score chart to navigate a route to survival – and Arsenal was always going to be a surprise ticket. For whatever reason, Hughes enjoys tussles with Wenger and, even though the pair shook hands afterwards, they will never be bosom buddies.
Hughes said: “We would have been happy with a positive result against Arsenal, so a draw or a win, we’d have been very happy.
“The atmosphere is really important. The fans have been really elated by what we’ve produced, I think.
“We know we’re in a difficult situation but I think the fans are totally behind what they’re seeing and what players are giving them now. If we can ride that wave then we’ll be fine.”
Taarabt opened the scoring after 23 minutes, turning Thomas Vermaelen and then firing low past Wojciech Szczesny.
Arsenal levelled through Theo Walcott in the 37th minute and their best chance to win it came after 58 minutes when Robin van Persie went clean through but was denied by QPR keeper Paddy Kenny.
But Arsenal’s normally reliable Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen slipped again after 66 minutes, Jamie Mackie crossed and Samba Diakite dispatched a cool shot which wrong-footed Szczesny.