London: A goal in 20 seconds from Theo Walcott was enough to help Arsenal to maintain their top four ambitions as they defeated relegated QPR 1-0 at Loftus Road. The victory sees the Gunners maintain the pressure on both Chelsea and Tottenham as they moved above the pair into third in league.
Harry Redknapp made four changes from the side that were condemned to Championship football after their goalless draw with Reading, as Jose Bosingwa, Adel Taarabt, Esteban Granero and Jay Bothroyd made way for Tal Ben-Haim, Andros Townsend, Ji-Sung Park and Bobby Zamora.
While the Gunners only had one change to make from the side that drew with Manchester United last Sunday, as Kieran Gibbs missed out due to injury and Nacho Monreal started in his place.
Within the first 20 seconds of the game Arsenal were given a helping hand by one of their old boys to take the lead, as Armand Traore misplaced a header, allowing Tomas Rosicky to gain possession and eventually the ball found its way to Walcott, who slid it past Robert Green for the opener.
Midway through the first half, Walcott almost got his second of the game, after Rosicky had cut in from the left hand side and played in 24-year-old winger, but his effort was saved by Green onto the post and eventually cleared from danger.
The home side finally had their first chance of the game after some good running from Townsend played in Zamora and he laid the ball off for Park, but the South Korean could only blaze his effort over the bar.
Arsenal continued to dominate the first half, but they couldn't find the final ball to open up their hosts and add to their lead as they went in at the break a goal ahead.
Whereas Arsenal were definitely the brighter at the start of the first half, at the beginning of the second it was the home side who looked the better of the two, with substitute Shaun Derry and Townsend both trying to set-up goals, but the Gunners defence stood strong to keep the lead intact.
With eight minutes gone in the half, The Hoops had two chances to get level as both Townsend and Loic Remy had stinging efforts that were beaten away by Wojciech Szczesny in the Arsenal goal and cleared away.
The visitors started to press forward more, with Santi Cazorla trying his luck with a strike from almost 25-yards out, but Green was able to get behind the ball and beat it away, allowing Clint Hill to gain possession.
Walcott continued to pressure Green with two strikes towards goal, but on both occasions the winger failed to find the net to seal the victory. Szczesny was forced to make his first real save of the game with less than eight minutes remaining, as he dived full stretch to deflect a Remy strike away for a corner.
Despite QPR pushing forward in numbers the Gunners defence managed to hang on and confirm third place in the Premier League.