Football: Mark Hughes must have been one of the few warm souls inside a chilly Emirates on Saturday, such was the regularity and vigour with which he marched up and down his technical area.
Indeed the Welshman, with the pressure of QPR’s worst top-flight start since 1968-69 weighing down heavily on his shoulders, must have been hoarse by the end of this entertaining encounter.
He had spent the previous 90 minutes screaming at anyone who would listen — the referee, the linesmen, his own players and, most of all, the fourth official.
He did, however, bite his tongue when it came to the Arsenal fans who taunted him throughout, allowing himself only a tap on his Kick It Out badge and a wag of the finger in their direction.
It’s a safe bet Hughes wasn’t quite so reserved when dealing with his defender Stephane Mbia who was sent off 10 minutes from the end for a mindless swipe at Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen.
The incident gave a hitherto poor Gunners side the initiative and their winner, which arrived four minutes later through Mikel Arteta, was no surprise even if it should have been disallowed for offside.
The loss means that QPR remain bottom on three points, with only draws against Everton, Chelsea and Norwich to their name. The west Londoners’ next three games certainly appear winnable — Reading at home, Stoke away and then the visit of fellow strugglers Southampton.
Yet failure to make significant progress in those matches will surely bring down the curtain on Hughes’s reign — with Harry Redknapp widely reported to be waiting in the wings — though if Rs chairman Tony Fernandes has stated that he will not countenance a kneejerk reaction to their current crisis.
They were unlucky not to take a point here and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will feel worried that the long-awaited return of Jack Wilshere, as well as Bacary Sagna, did not spark a significant upturn in his side’s performance after back-to-back losses to Schalke and Norwich.
Of concern, too, was the dire display from Arsenal left-back Andre Santos, an obvious weak link in his side’s line-up and a player who the visitors attacked throughout.
Following a League Cup trip to Reading, Manchester United are up next for the Gunners, for whom last season’s chastening 8-2 loss is still fresh in the memory.
Arsenal’s fans, increasingly angry these days, are unlikely to tolerate anything resembling a repeat.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.