THEO Walcott’s goal after 20 seconds was all that separated Queens Park Rangers and Arsenal at Loftus Road this evening.
The Gunners struck inside the opening minute to seal all three points in a match that Rangers will feel hard done by not to have taken something from.
It was a poor start by the R’s, but Redknapp’s side created chances, and a strong second half showing, led by the impressive Andros Townsend, deserved better.
When Loic Remy bent a shot towards goal in the closing stages of the match only the fingertips of Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny stood between QPR and that point.
Rangers made four changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Reading last weekend. Ji-Sung Park, Tal Ben Haim, Bobby Zamora and Andros Townsend returned to the starting line-up in favour of Jose Bosingwa, Adel Taarabt, Esteban Granero and Jay Bothroyd.
QPR had barely drawn breath before they found themselves 1-0 down inside the opening 20 seconds of the match as Arsenal recorded the quickest goal of the Premier League season so far.
The Gunners got the match underway at a sun kissed Loftus Road and immediately pushed forwards working the ball out wide to Tomas Rosicky on the right wing after Traore’s header gave up possession. His ball to the edge of the R’s box allowed Arteta to slide Theo Walcott in on goal before beating QPR keeper Robert Green from 10-yards, Ben Haim playing the England international onside.
Rangers’ response was to fire high and wide 20 minutes later through Loic Remy after Park had done well to intercept a pass as the R’s struggled to get a hold on the match. That was not proving such a problem for top four chasing Arsenal who almost doubled their advantage five minutes later when Walcott struck the upright. The Gunners goalscorer turned on the edge of the QPR box before Green pushed his effort onto the post and Jermaine Jenas cleared the danger.
A solid move moments later from the R’s saw Park lash over the bar inside the Arsenal box following good work from Townsend and Zamora around the Arsenal 18-yard area before a foray down the right from Spurs loanee Townsend resulted in midfield partner Park’s scuffed shot deflecting behind for a corner.
Fullback Ben Haim then registered a long range shot after dispossessing Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey on the halfway line. The Israeli defender closed down on the Gunenrs box before his 25-yard effort was dealt with comfortably by Polish stopper Wojciech Szczesny.
Bacary Sagna’s foul on South Korean Park handed Rangers a free-kick from 24-yards but Townsend was unable to threaten the Arsenal goal minutes before the half-time whistle sounded.
Redknapp replaced Mbia with Shaun Derry at half-time and it was the QPR midfielder that had the first chance of the second half as Jenas’ free-kick picked Derry out at the back post but his header was unable to trouble Szczesny.
QPR continued to main the pressure on the Arsenal goal and Townsend, with a stinging drive, forced Szczesny to palm away before 60 seconds later Remy called the Gunners custodian back into action as the R’s enjoyed a positive 10 minutes.
That pressure continued as Townsend delivered free-kicks and corners into the Arsenal box but the home side were unable to fashion any chances of note before Laurent Koscielny tested Green - for the first time in the second half - at the other end with a side footed shot from 14-yards.
Green had to again be alert in the QPR goal in the 68th minute to bat away Santi Cazorla’s 25-yard swerving drive before the Rangers number one was equal to Walcott’s near post shot minutes later.
Walcott continued to search for a second goal for the north London outfit and his dipping poke in the 77th minute was palmed down into the ground by Green before Zamora’s penalty appeals at the other end were waved away.
Frenchman Loic Remy nearly forced an equaliser seven minutes from time but a stretching save from Szczesny denied the Rangers joint top scorer. Townsend worked the ball down the right and when his cross into the Arsenal box fortunately found its way to Remy and the former Marseille frontman swivelled before attempting to bend the ball in at the far post.
It proved the final chance for either side as despite a spirited attempt to snatch something from the match Walcott’s early opener just proved enough for a Champions League chasing Arsenal side.