Arsenal 1-0 QPR
Robin van Persie registered his 35th Premier League goal in 2011 as Arsenal overcame QPR to go fourth in the table.
Van Persie missed four chances in a first half that also saw Aaron Ramsey's shot cleared off the line by Joey Barton.
Theo Walcott missed a fine chance after the break but Van Persie struck with a low finish from Andrey Arshavin's pass.
He passed Thierry Henry's club scoring record for a year but finished one shy of Alan Shearer's all-time mark.
The former England striker scored 36 for Blackburn Rovers in 1995.
Van Persie ends 2011 with 50 goals in all competitions but far more important to his team were the three points.
They take Arsenal above Liverpool and Chelsea into the final Champions League spot for the first time this season.
By contrast, QPR drop to 17th - just two points above the relegation zone - and their winless run extends to seven games.
Much of the pre-match talk surrounded , which is likely to be finalised by the end of the weekend.
How the Gunners could have done with their record goalscorer for much of this match.
After a lethargic start that saw Jay Bothroyd and Shaun Wright-Phillips go close for QPR, Arsenal spent the rest of the half encamped in opposition territory.
But they lacked the sort of killer instinct that brought Henry 226 goals in 370 appearances before he joined Barcelona in 2007.
It took them 15 minutes to muster an opening on any note, Van Persie turning a couple of men before shooting straight at Radek Cerny from a tight angle.
Soon after, Van Persie steered a header wide after escaping his marker to meet a Ramsey cross and then poked over the bar after wriggling past Luke Young.
QPR boss Neil Warnock had quipped that his side were "going to have to try and board the goal up" and the plan came to fruition.
An out-of-sorts Theo Walcott prodded tentatively across goal when well-placed just a few yards out and Van Persie volleyed over after being sent clear by Thomas Vermaelen.
As Arsenal continued to flood forward, Ramsey saw a volley headed off the line by Barton and a Mikel Arteta drive was punched away by Cerny.
Amid all of that, the hosts were furious with referee Martin Atkinson after he turned down two penalty appeals - Young and Barton appeared to handle inside the box - and accidentally cautioned Vermaelen for a foul committed by Laurent Koscielny.
However, Vermaelen would not have to worry about being sent off - shortly after half-time he limped off to give manager Arsene Wenger yet another defensive injury concern.
Arsenal's response was positive and they should have taken the lead when Walcott latched on to Ramsey's through-ball, only to drag wide when one-on-one with Cerny.
Walcott's blushes would be spared four minutes later, when the ever-reliable Van Persie produced his landmark strike.
Wright-Phillips relinquished possession to Ramsey in midfield and he fed the otherwise-poor Arshavin, who played Van Persie in for a first-time finish low past Cerny.
Taking the lead seemed to fill Arsenal with nerves and Wojciech Szczesny had to save well from Adel Taarabt before an unmarked Matthew Connolly volleyed over.
Arsene Wenger managed to tip the balance by introducing Gervinho and Tomas Rosicky, and both men - as well as Ramsey and Van Persie - squandered opportunities to double the advantage.
In the end, Arsenal were grateful for the one goal they had and, especially, their talismanic captain.
- 13 Szczesny
- 04 Mertesacker
- 05 Vermaelen Booked (Coquelin - 54' )
- 06 Koscielny
- 20 Djourou Booked
- 08 Arteta
- 14 Walcott (Gervinho - 74' )
- 16 Ramsey
- 17 Song
- 23 Arshavin (Rosicky - 67' )
- 10 Van Persie
- 01 Almunia
- 07 Rosicky
- 15 Oxlade-Chamberlain
- 30 Benayoun
- 39 Coquelin
- 27 Gervinho
- 29 Chamakh
- 24 Cerny
- 06 Gabbidon
- 13 Traore (Orr - 77' )
- 16 Connolly
- 18 Young Booked
- 07 Taarabt
- 11 Faurlin
- 17 Barton Booked
- 32 Wright-Phillips
- 10 Bothroyd (Campbell - 64' )
- 12 Mackie (Smith - 74' )
- 26 Murphy
- 02 Orr
- 03 Hill
- 21 Smith
- 04 Derry
- 09 Campbell
- 22 Helguson
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee brings the game to a close.90:00 +2:56
Laurent Koscielny gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Adel Taarabt. Free kick taken by Joey Barton.90:00 +2:00
Short corner worked by Mikel Arteta.90:00 +1:34
Tomas Rosicky takes a shot. Blocked by Matthew Connolly. Short corner taken by Robin van Persie from the right by-line.87:53
Aaron Ramsey takes a shot. Save made by Radek Cerny.87:05
Wojciech Szczesny fouled by DJ Campbell, the ref awards a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.86:02
The referee blows for offside against Robin van Persie. Radek Cerny restarts play with the free kick.84:52
Effort on goal by Daniel Gabbidon from outside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.84:09
Foul by Alex Song on Alejandro Faurlin, free kick awarded. Adel Taarabt delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from left channel.82:35
Corner taken short by Robin van Persie.81:08
Robin van Persie fouled by Daniel Gabbidon, the ref awards a free kick. Mikel Arteta fires a strike on goal direct from the free kick.80:23
Shaun Wright-Phillips challenges Tomas Rosicky unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.79:54
Yao Gervinho is caught offside. Radek Cerny takes the indirect free kick.76:46 Substitution
Substitution Bradley Orr comes on in place of Armand Traore.76:34
Yao Gervinho has an effort at goal from close in which goes wide left of the target.75:16
Yao Gervinho takes a shot. Matthew Connolly gets a block in.73:42 Substitution
Substitution Yao Gervinho is brought on as a substitute for Theo Walcott.73:42 Substitution
Substitution Jamie Mackie leaves the field to be replaced by Tommy Smith.73:29
Effort on goal by Aaron Ramsey from just inside the area clears the crossbar.71:07
Robin van Persie concedes a free kick for a foul on Joey Barton. Adel Taarabt restarts play with the free kick.
Jamie Mackie fouled by Laurent Koscielny, the ref awards a free kick. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Adel Taarabt from right wing, Laurent Koscielny makes a clearance.70:04
Aaron Ramsey challenges Alejandro Faurlin unfairly and gives away a free kick. Matthew Connolly takes the free kick.68:39
Corner taken by Adel Taarabt from the right by-line played to the near post, Matthew Connolly produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that clears the bar.66:42
Free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.66:42 Substitution
Substitution Tomas Rosicky comes on in place of Andrey Arshavin.66:42
Shaun Wright-Phillips challenges Francis Coquelin unfairly and gives away a free kick.66:18
Adel Taarabt takes a short corner.66:06
Adel Taarabt takes a shot. Save by Wojciech Szczesny.63:41 Substitution
Substitution DJ Campbell joins the action as a substitute, replacing Jay Bothroyd.62:11
Jamie Mackie challenges Mikel Arteta unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Laurent Koscielny.59:32
Assist on the goal came from Andrey Arshavin.59:32 Goal scored
Goal! - Robin van Persie - Arsenal 1 - 0 QPR Robin van Persie gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Arsenal 1-0 QPR.55:40
Theo Walcott has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the goal.54:57
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Shaun Wright-Phillips by Mikel Arteta. Joey Barton crosses the ball in from the free kick, comfortable save by Wojciech Szczesny.54:20
Theo Walcott is ruled offside. Radek Cerny takes the free kick.53:24
Free kick taken by Andrey Arshavin.53:24 Substitution
Substitution Francis Coquelin joins the action as a substitute, replacing Thomas Vermaelen.53:24 Booking
Booking The referee cautions Luke Young for unsporting behaviour.53:12
Theo Walcott fouled by Luke Young, the ref awards a free kick.52:30
Adel Taarabt takes a outswinging corner to the near post, Alex Song makes a clearance.51:58
Theo Walcott is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Indirect free kick taken by Radek Cerny.51:45
Centre by Jay Bothroyd, save by Wojciech Szczesny.50:05
The official flags Jay Bothroyd offside. Laurent Koscielny takes the indirect free kick.49:16
Shaun Wright-Phillips is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Wojciech Szczesny restarts play with the free kick.47:51
Mikel Arteta has shot on goal from just outside the penalty box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.47:25
Johan Djourou fouled by Adel Taarabt, the ref awards a free kick. Johan Djourou takes the free kick.46:06
The assistant referee signals for offside against Jamie Mackie. Indirect free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.45:37
Alex Song gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Joey Barton. Matthew Connolly restarts play with the free kick.45:01
The referee gets the second half started.45:00 +2:09 Half time
Half Time It is the end of the first-half.45:00 +1:21
Foul by Jay Bothroyd on Laurent Koscielny, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.43:51
Johan Djourou challenges Adel Taarabt unfairly and gives away a free kick. Armand Traore takes the free kick.43:28
Mikel Arteta takes the inswinging corner, save made by Radek Cerny.43:13
Mikel Arteta takes a shot. Save by Radek Cerny.42:56
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Robin van Persie, save made by Radek Cerny.42:44
Corner taken by Mikel Arteta, clearance by Jay Bothroyd.42:31
Aaron Ramsey takes a shot. Joey Barton manages to make a clearance.41:58
Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Robin van Persie.40:30
Corner taken by Mikel Arteta from the left by-line, Matthew Connolly manages to make a clearance.40:14
Jay Bothroyd gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Alex Song. Alex Song restarts play with the free kick.39:11
Armand Traore takes the free kick.39:11 Booking
Booking Johan Djourou booked for unsporting behaviour.39:02
Free kick awarded for a foul by Johan Djourou on Joey Barton.38:33
The ball is swung over by Shaun Wright-Phillips, Wojciech Szczesny makes a save.38:01
Corner from the left by-line taken by Adel Taarabt, save by Wojciech Szczesny.37:15
Alex Song concedes a free kick for a foul on Adel Taarabt. Adel Taarabt crosses the ball in from the free kick, Laurent Koscielny makes a clearance.36:41 Booking
Booking Thomas Vermaelen booked.34:46
Corner taken left-footed by Robin van Persie from the right by-line, clearance by Luke Young.32:32
Laurent Koscielny takes a shot. Blocked by Luke Young.32:09
Robin van Persie takes a inswinging corner to the near post, clearance by Matthew Connolly.31:17
The ball is delivered by Mikel Arteta.31:02
Aaron Ramsey decides to take the corner short.30:38
Jamie Mackie is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Per Mertesacker takes the indirect free kick.29:20
Shot from deep inside the area by Robin van Persie clears the bar.28:56
Jay Bothroyd concedes a free kick for a foul on Laurent Koscielny. Free kick taken by Laurent Koscielny.27:53
The offside flag is raised against Andrey Arshavin. Radek Cerny takes the indirect free kick.26:10
Free kick crossed left-footed by Robin van Persie from right channel.26:10 Booking
Booking Joey Barton goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.26:04
Joey Barton gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Mikel Arteta.24:28
Close range effort by Robin van Persie clears the crossbar.22:54
Close range headed effort by Robin van Persie goes wide of the left-hand post.20:31
Shaun Wright-Phillips fouled by Alex Song, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Daniel Gabbidon.20:04
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mikel Arteta by Joey Barton. Free kick taken by Mikel Arteta.18:40
Joey Barton has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide left of the goal.18:05
The referee blows for offside. Radek Cerny takes the indirect free kick.17:26
The assistant referee flags for offside against Shaun Wright-Phillips. Free kick taken by Alex Song.15:02
Robin van Persie takes a shot. Radek Cerny makes a comfortable save.13:02
Corner taken by Robin van Persie from the right by-line to the near post, clearance by Jay Bothroyd.10:23
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Per Mertesacker by Jay Bothroyd. Per Mertesacker takes the indirect free kick.9:51
Shaun Wright-Phillips takes a shot. Save made by Wojciech Szczesny.8:24
Jay Bothroyd takes a shot. Save by Wojciech Szczesny.2:06
The ball is swung over by Theo Walcott.0:00
The referee gets the match started.
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