Alexis Sanchez helped Arsenal to a 2-1 Barclays Premier League triumph over Queens Park Rangers, despite Olivier Giroud's red card. Sanchez scored a first-half opener and, after Giroud had been sent off for a butt, set up Tomas Rosicky for a second as Arsenal took the points at Emirates Stadium.
Alexis Sanchez’ 10th EPL goal, assist rescues 10 man Gunners on Boxing Day
Sanchez scored a first-half opener and, after Giroud had been sent off for a butt, set up Tomas Rosicky for a second
Arsenal dominated possession amid some dogged defending from QPR. The opening goal came eight minutes before half-time when Sanchez, who had missed an early penalty, headed home.
The Chilean making it his tenth of the season in the English Premiership.
Arsenal were hampered after the restart by Giroud's sending-off after 53 minutes for pushing his head into the face of Nedum Onuoha. However, Rosicky, who was making his first Barclays Premier League start of the campaign as one of two changes for Arsenal, grabbed a second goal, only for Charlie Austin to give the visitors late hope when hammering home from the penalty spot. A leveller was not forthcoming, though, as Rangers' run of not picking up a point on the road this term continued.
It appeared QPR would be chasing the game as early as the eighth minute when former Arsenal man Armand Traore brought down Sanchez in the area. However, the Chilean's weak effort was easily saved by Rob Green.
Arsenal continued to enjoy the better of proceedings as QPR, going back to the 3-5-2 formation with a back three featuring Rio Ferdinand, selected as one of five changes to Redknapp's XI, initially held firm.
Arsenal were restricted to speculative efforts from distance, most notably from Giroud and Sanchez. Even when the QPR defence was breached, Green was there to make the save, epitomised by a fine stop that kept out Giroud's 20-yard free-kick.
The opener arrived in the 37th minute after a stunning Arsenal move. Danny Welbeck and Santi Cazorla combined before the latter laid a pass into Kieran Gibbs, whose superb cross allowed Alexis to send a header into the net.
QPR responded solidly, with Steven Caulker directing a header just wide before the break. Their hopes were given a significant boost in the 54th minute when Giroud's loss of temper left Arsenal with 10 men.
The hosts made light of their one-man disadvantage, though, as they kept the ball well. They were aided by Sanchez as he created the second goal. Having picked up the ball inside his own area, the Chile forward charged at the QPR defence before laying the ball into Rosicky, whose shot eluded Green.
Hopes of a comfortable evening from that point did not materialise, as Austin notched his 12th league goal of the season after Mathieu Debuchy was adjudged to have fouled Junior Hoilett in the penalty area.
Mauricio Isla went closest to equalising when his header from Niko Kranjcar's corner was cleared off the line, while substitute Bobby Zamora almost connected with a ball that flashed across the box, but Arsenal held on.
JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!
Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: