Queens Park Rangers rallied in the face of adversity this weekend, beating Arsenal with their best performance of the new year to climb out of the relegation zone.
On the strength of a tremendous effort from Adel Taraabt and a resolute team performance, the R's made the most of their home stand to gut out a difficult win in comprehensive fashion. With points at a premium this late in the season, they stepped up marvelously and turned in a thriller to overcome an in-form Gunners squad.
With a trip to Old Trafford up next, they need to keep on believing and playing like the team they can be when firing on all cylinders. The run-in hasn't gotten any easier, but there are enough opportunities left for this QPR side to earn survival to next year if they can repeat the quality they displayed this weekend.
Last year's top performer endured a difficult baptism in the top flight, struggling to find his form early in the year, losing the captain's armband unceremoniously upon Joey Barton's arrival and disappearing from former manager Neil Warnock's team sheet on several occasions. The unconsummated summer move to Paris St. Germain affected his focus, as the starlet admitted this week that he had mentally moved on from West London before the deal evaporated with the arrival of Leonardo at the French club. With the added pressure of carrying the spotlight a team devoid of superstars and an increased level of competition, Taraabt's free-wheeling style that landed him so many plaudits in the lower level did not translate. A run that might have been creative before was interrupted by more experienced and agile defenders, and whereas his natural skill might have enabled him to work around Championship players, Premier League veterans were unfazed by his fancy footwork and handled his theatrical dribbling easily.
During the January overhaul he once again was the subject of transfer rumours, but ultimately new manager Mark Hughes gambled on a return to form and retained him. That faith has been justified in recent weeks, as Taraabt's play continued to excel and he demonstrated the vision and creativity that made him such an impact player last season. His excellent strike put QPR ahead 1-0 to Arsenal and seems like only the beginning from the talented Moroccan. It couldn't come at a better time, as the club faces more difficult matches and a tight fight at the bottom of the table.
Several other players stood out including Zamora and Paddy Kenny, who denied Robin Van Persie on several good attempts on net. Beyond any individual performance, the team pulled off the unthinkable - a complete effort that saw the players work smart passes between one another, take the fight to the opponent and finally start to act as a unit with one purpose. This was a different team than some of the early matches under Hughes' regime, and a promising sign that despite the late hour, things might just break their way. They have tough games in hand to deal with, but if they continue to build on their growth and bring some consistency to their form, this is a team that can earn another year in the Premier League.
Come on U R'ssss!
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