By Myles Palmer
QPR 0 Arsenal 6
Arriving at Loftus Road for a 19,000 sell-out FA Cup Fourth Round tie was pretty strange.
There was no buzz, no Cup fever, no anticipation.The
relegation zone does that to fans, whose faces told the story.They feared a hammering.
We were in the stand with a bunch of geezers, not in the directors’ box, but we had Trophy Room tickets so we got a cup of tea before the game and said hello to Chris Wright and nodded to David Dein and Jarvis Astaire.
At first when I saw the teamsheet I thought: he’s done it! He’s picked Lauren, it’s the team I would have picked! Then I noticed that Thierry Henry was on the bench and Wiltord was playing with Bergkamp.
Arsenal had no rhythm so it was a close game for 31 minutes.
Wiltord wanted five touches on every ball and his movement was clueless.
I rate Lauren so I was glad he was playing again .But he got a yellow card for a wild tackle on Baraclough on the touchline.
Miklosko tipped an Adams header over after ten minutes.
At the other end there was some head tennis and Peter Crouch banged a volley into the side-netting when he should have scored.
By this time I was expecting a terminally tedious afternoon watching Wiltord kick the ball against people’s legs.
Clarke Carlisle was booked for a tackle on Parlour at the side of the penalty area. Parlour played for the contact.A foul but a harsh booking
Referee Neale Barry moved the free-kick into the box because of dissent or because Kiwomya did not retreat the full 10 yards.
But Arsenal are absolutely hopeless at free-kicks and this was no different. It was the usual pathetic effort. Taken short,Bergkamp slammed the ball into the side-netting.No imagination,no intelligence,no practice.What do they do all week at that training ground?
Then Wiltord tried a first-time pass and the ball hit both his ankles and I wanted to go home.
Then Arsenal got lucky. Lee Dixon crossed from the right into the box and centreback Chris Plummer was running towards his own keeper and kneed the ball perfectly past Miklosko at the near post.
That was after 31 minutes. Within a few seconds Bergkamp made a good run onto Vieira’s pass on the left, turned the ball diagonally back into the box and Wiltord’s shot hit a defender and went in for another own-goal.
So it was 2-0 at half-time
Ashley Cole crossed to the near post after 50 minutes and Matthew Rose stabbed in for another own goal!Surreal! Truly amazing!
Wiltord had a good volley which went in off the far post for 4-0.That is the kind of player he is. He will score a good goal when you are 3-0 up.
A swift,sweeping move from box to box ended with Pires scoring imperiously.The spurt forward, the left footed touch, the early right footed shot, showed his class.
The atmosphere sagged, the sun went down slowly behind the stand, it got colder, and the QPR fans taunted the Gooners by singing, “Five nil – and you still can’t sing!”
Bergkamp had a one-on-one with Miklosko but the angle was difficult. He flicked the ball hard with the outside of his right foot but it hit the keeper.
Then a defender passed to Vieira who gave Bergkamp a
simple pass and his refrigerated finish made it 6-0.
We went back up towards the Trophy Room for coffee and news of other games.
Boro Primorac grinned, shook my hand and left.
A famous cricketer was there in a black leather coat, smoking a cigarette with his left hand.A spin bowler. It’s taken me two hours to think of his name : Phil Tufnell.
Michael Nyman, the jovial bald film composer who has won two Oscars, was sitting next but one to Caroline, my daughter. Nyman is a big QPR fan so it must have been horrible for him.
Overall, it was pizza afternoon which did not satisfy my hunger. I don’t feel as if I have seen a game. Like the Arsenal fans, I didn’t feel like singing just because they had won 6-0. It was an anti-climax for both sides.
We were sitting near the end of the stand so we had a good view of the first two own-goals and a bad view of the three good goals and a bad view of a QPR disallowed goal.
Crouch, early on, had headed the ball over the line but Cole cleared and Barry and the linesman waved play on.
That’s the kind of day it was. For this to be an interesting football match that goal needed to be allowed.
It was QPR’s only shot on target in the whole match and, by all accounts, it went over the line and it was disallowed when the score was 0-0.I was too far away but I expect to see it on Match of the Day tonight.
Jermaine Darlington played very well throughout and Ashley Cole stopped taking him on because Darlington was outsprinting him.
Richard Langley showed Premiership skill and pace and had a few tussles with Patrick Vieira which they both enjoyed.Langley would love to play against PV again and I think he will.
I have had a feeling, since before Carlisle, that we will get a horrible draw in the FA Cup. Spurs, Liverpool or Manchester United.
But maybe not. Today showed that Arsenal’s luck is changing.
27th January 2001.
P.S. We saw on Match of the Day that Crouch’s header did NOT cross the line. Cole kicked it off the line and did well not to clear it against the head of Seaman, who was on the ground in front of him.The ball would have rebounded into the net.
Wenger preferred Lauren to Grimandi and that may be significant.
That may signal that he sees Parlour playing central midfield until Edu is fit again, and Lauren sharing the wide right spot with Ljungberg.
The BBC highlights made Arsenal look awesome, as they always will.But Wenger knows Loftus Road was only a small step down a long road. Bradford, for all their faults, are a lot better than QPR.