Arsenal will be desperate to avoid a third straight defeat, at home to Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, after what has been a tumultuous past week for the club.
There was plenty of optimism around the Emirates after what had been a fairly positive start to the season. However, a shock Premier League defeat to struggling Norwich followed by a rare home Champions League defeat, at the hands of Schalke, has again raised concerns about Arsenal’s future direction.
Those doubts were aired at the club’s annual general meeting on Thursday where chairman Peter Hill-Wood, chief executive Ivan Gazidis and majority shareholder Stan Kroenke all received a frosty reception before manager Arsene Wenger tried to assuage fans.
On the pitch, the chief concern in the two recent defeats has been the lack of attacking threat posed by the Gunners. Both Olivier Giroud and then Gervinho struggled to make an impact in the lone striking role and were given little support by those behind them.
Arsenal are also struggling with a string of injuries. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Abou Diaby, Wojciech Szczesny, Kieran Gibbs and Tomas Rosicky are all likely to remain on the sidelines. There is some good news, though, with both Bacary Sagna and Jack Wilshere back in contention after long absences.
It is the injury to Gibbs that will perhaps cause Wenger the greatest concern. While the rest of the side were far from exemplary in their defending against Schalke, Gibbs’ replacement Andre Santos was particularly culpable throughout the contest as the German side prospered down his side.
Wenger could try to shift things around by putting Thomas Vermaelen at left-back or even thrust right-back Sagna into the side in an unfamiliar role.
Arsenal’s struggles will not seem like such for QPR, who remain rooted to the foot of the Premier League table. After a recruiting a number of players with big reputations in the summer, the early results have been a major disappointment and there is already speculation over the future of Mark Hughes.
After a run of three-straight Premier League defeats, Rangers at least arrested the slide with a 1-1 draw with Everton last time out. Although playing at home against 10 men for the final half-hour the result is likely to have done little to boost morale at Loftus Road.
Hughes should have Clint Hill available after his head injury, while Fabio and Kieron Dyer could also be in contention. Former Manchester United midfielder Ji-Sung Park will face a later fitness testy on a knee injury, however.
D: Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen
M: Arteta, Ramsey
Gervinho, Cazorla, Podolski
Queens Park Rangers (probable)
G: Julio Cesar
D: Bosingwa, Mbia, Nelson, Traore
M: Park, Granero, Diakite, Taarabt
Prediction: In a meeting of two sides likely to be low on confidence, it could well be a cagey affair at the Emirates. QPR have struggled in front of goal this season, while Arsenal have also looked blunt in their last two outings. Wenger is likely to accept a win of any form on Saturday and his side should get the three points, although perhaps not in the most emphatic of fashions.
Arsenal 1-0 Queens Park Rangers
Where to watch: The Premier League contest kicks-off from the Emirates at 10 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with a delayed online stream provided by FoxSoccer2Go.