RANGERS are still searching for their first Premier League away point of the season after a 2-1 defeat at Arsenal.
Goals either side of half-time from Alexis Sanchez put the Gunners into an unassailable lead – the home side recovering from Sanchez’s early penalty miss.
Charlie Austin gave QPR hope when he converted a penalty in the 79th minute. By this stage, Olivier Giroud was sent off following a collision with Nedum Onuoha.
But Harry Redknapp’s men were unable to add a second goal – despite goalmouth scrambles aplenty towards the death.
Fellow strugglers Crystal Palace visit Loftus Road on Sunday.
R’s boss Redknapp made five changes to his Rangers side following our 3-2 home comeback win over West Bromwich Albion last weekend.
Yun Suk-Young missed out with an ankle injury, as did Joey Barton with a minor hamstring complaint. Meanwhile, with two Premier League fixtures for QPR in as many days, Richard Dunne, Leroy Fer and
Bobby Zamora were all rested.
That meant Rio Ferdinand, Mauricio Isla, Niko Kranjcar, Jordon Mutch and former Gunner Armand Traore all deputised. Ferdinand was also handed the captain’s armband for the evening in Barton’s absence.
On a rain-soaked evening across the capital, Arsenal spurned the ideal opportunity to take a ninth-minute lead after Sanchez missed a spot-kick.
After an initial shout for handball, Traore unfairly hauled down Sanchez in the box, leaving referee Martin Atkinson with no other option but to award the home side a penalty.
Arsenal’s Chilean international dusted himself down to take the kick. However, when he slid low from 12 yards, Rob Green dived excellently well down to his left to divert the ball away for a corner.
Despite the early drama, there wasn’t a great deal else to note in the following minutes. Arsenal were enjoying much of the possession but were unable to fashion any more shots on target.
Sanchez unleashed an effort from range in the 26th minute but his shot sailed handsomely over Green’s goal.
However, the Hoops goalkeeper was tested when he saved superbly from an Giroud free-kick three minutes later.
Arsenal enjoyed more possession as the half wore on and that pressure eventually told in the 37th minute, as the hosts took the lead.
Danny Welbeck, Santi Cazorla and Kieron Gibbs all combined and when the latter fed an unmarked Sanchez from six yards, he headed coolly past Green.
Rangers almost instantly responded at the other end, though Steven Caulker headed just past the post from an Isla assist before half-time arrived.
The home side threatened again soon after the interval. Mathieu Debuchy fired a centre across the face of goal but, agonisingly, a touch wasn’t forthcoming from a fellow team-mate.
QPR’s claims were strengthened when Arsenal were reduced to 10 men in the 53rd minute.
Giroud clashed heads with Onuoha and the home striker was shown his marching orders soon after, with a straight red card.
A double change followed for Rangers. Junior Hoilett and Fer introduced at the expense of Traore and Karl Henry.
A man to the good, the R’s, expectedly, enjoyed a little bit more of the ball in the second period.
However, it mattered little when Arsenal broke on the counter attack to double their advantage in the 65th minute.
Sanchez advanced into the box and when he freed Rosicky, the Czech side-footed past Green from 10 yards.
Rangers continued to press thereafter but the task at hand was now an extremely-difficult one.
Zamora was brought on for QPR’s third and final substitution on 71 minutes, that at the expense of Mutch. Moments later, Sanchez drove at Green for Arsenal.
The Hoops were given a route back into the match when they themselves were awarded a penalty 11 minutes from time – and Austin duly obliged.
Debuchy was adjudged to have felled substitute Hoilett and the striker stepped up to smash home from 12 yards.
Rangers fans, fantastic throughout the 90 minutes, could now sense a first away point in the offing when it appeared that their hopes were dashed.
However, despite their best attempts – and four minutes of added time – it proved just beyond the R’s.
Zamora had strong appeals for another penalty waved away by referee Atkinson in the dying embers – it just wasn’t to be.