Expectations were womewhat lowered at Emirates Stadium for Saturday's matchup against Queens Park Rangers. And for good reason, too, as Arsenal was trying to avoid a third loss in a week.
But eventuallly the Gunners fought through an uncomfortable silence from their home crowd for much of the game and came away with the classic "One-Nil to the Arsenal." Mikel Arteta finally smashed home the lone goal after the ball bounced off the crossbar, QPR Julio Cesar and other defenders for a couple moments. And of all people to deliver the cross, Andrey Arshavin was the man to deliver it.
In addition, the goal came after QPR's Staphane Mbia earned himself a red card for stupidly kicking out at Thomas Vermaelen. So Arsenal struggled to scored until it had a literal advantage with one extra man on the pitch. But there was plenty to be positive about during this game. The first of which was the return of Jack Wilshere.
The 20-year-old was handed his first appearance and start in the Premier League in more than a year due to injury. And even though he was subbed off just after an hour, Wilshere looked as if he had never been away. That's impressive, considering head coach Arsene Wenger suggested his young midfielder was only about 80 percent healthy. His journey through the game wasn't without a scare however, as he stayed down on the ground for a couple moments after his foot was stepped on.
Bacary Sagna also made his return from a broken leg. It was refreshing to see one of the best defenders in the Premier League back on the pitch. Yes, Carl Jenkinson has been great this season, but he just can't send crosses into the box like Sagna can. Hopefully Sagna can stay healthy for the rest of the season.
Per the usual with Arsenal, one player comes back from injury, and another leaves with one. After being subbed on for Lukas Podolski, Gervinho managed just over 10 minutes before he had to leave on a stretcher. Wenger said after the game that he feared an ankle injury. But there's a silver lining to this; Gervinho has been frustrating for much of this season. And when Arshavin came on in relief, the cross he delivered that resulted in the only goal of the game would never have come from the Ivorian. If we're going to be honest, Gervinho would have either turned the ball over in that situation or committed a dive. His injury opens the door for Arshavin to prove himself again. And Gooners have been clamoring for the Russian recently because he still has something to offer this team. His cross proved that.
Arsenal struggled today, but the only thing that matters is the three points it earned. That one fact will be remembered, not how the team had a difficult time taking care of the club at the bottom of the table.
The Gunners' next game is on Tuesday when they pay a visit to Reading in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup.