THE third round of the FA Cup begins on Saturday with the R’s making the trip up to Lancashire to play Premier League side Blackburn Rovers. At this stage of the season QPR will be forgiven for playing a weakened team with their eyes firmly set on promotion.
Blackburn recently sacked experienced manager Sam Allardyce with what looked from the outside to be a conflict of interest between Big Sam and the new owners at Ewood Park. They appointed from within, choosing to elect Steve Kean as manager until the end of the season.
Kean has made a steady start to his managerial career, winning twice against, losing twice and drawing only the once. The win against beleaguered Liverpool was particularly impressive as Blackburn repeated Wolves’ tactic of pressing the Reds all over the park, forcing the errors and hitting them on the counter with some clinical finishing.
QPR will no doubt rotate for the match on Saturday. Rangers’ priority is the league and although a cup run would be nice, at this stage of the season and with the injuries starting to mount up, an early exit would not be a disaster.
Usually I would consider that to be slightly disrespectful of what is a fantastic cup competition, but how often have QPR been in the position that they currently occupy? I think as a club we can agree on what the main objective is this season – the league.
I sincerely hope teams like Dover Athletic (my local side), Crawley Town and Stevenage Borough pull off a giant killing or two, keeping the spirit of the cup alive, as that what it’s all about in these stages, a good old-fashioned cup upset. What a fantastic chance for all the perfectly capable non-league players to prove their worth on the bigger stage.
QPR 2 (Faurlin 53, Taarabt 85pen)
Bristol City 2 (Pitman 50, Caulker 90)
Team: Paddy Kenny, Clint Hill, Bradley Orr, Kaspars Gorkss, Kyle Walker, Shaun Derry, Adel Taarabt (Petter Vaagan Moen 87), Alejandro Faurlín, Jamie Mackie, Tommy Smith, Rob Hulse
Blackburn Rovers 3 (Olsson 32, Benjani 38, 57)
Liverpool 1 (Gerrard 81)
Team: Mark Bunn, Ryan Nelsen, Christopher Samba, Martin Olsson (El-Hadji-Diouf 73), Michel Salgado, Gael Givet, David Dunn (Josh Morris 75), Morten Gamst Pedersen, David Hoilett, Benjamin Mwaruwari (Herold Goulon 84), Mame Biram Diouf
Blackburn Rovers Team News:
Blackburn boss Steve Kean is without several players for this weekend`s match, Paul Robinson, Phil Jones, Steven Nzonzi, Vince Grella and Keith Andrews are all absent through injury.
Jason Roberts could be available for selection as the former QPR target continues to make a speedy recovery from a hamstring complaint.
Salgado – Samba – Nelsen – Olsson
Pedersen – Givet – Dunn
El-Hadji Diouf – Biram Diouf – Benjani
Player to watch: Morten Gamst Pedersen
Morten Gamst Pedersen has been identified by DanielQPR as the player to watch ahead of this weekend’s match against Blackburn Rovers.
For all the information on the attack-minded midfielder click here >>>
QPR Team News:
The R’s are once again without Matthew Connolly who is serving his second of a two-match suspension. Clint Hill is expected to deputise at centre back alongside Kaspars Gorkss.
Unfortunately Patrick Agyemang has been ruled out for at least four months after suffering a stress fracture of the tibia. Neil Warnock could hand starts to Giorgos Tofas and Petter Vaagan Moen, but Martin Rowlands is also unavailable owing to injury.
Possible line up:
Orr- Hill – Gorkss – Borrowdale
Derry – Faurlin
Ephraim – Vaagan Moen – Tofas
Player to watch: Petter Vaagan Moen
New signing Petter Vaagan Moen will be the one to watch on Saturday. If he does start then the eagle-eyed Rangers faithful will be very interested to see how he fares against Premier League opposition.
The Norwegian International is a dead-ball expert possessing a sweet left foot. The R’s should look to capitalise on this and give set-piece specialists Blackburn a run for their money.
Vaagan Moen started his career at in HamKam and helped the club to promotion to the Tippeliga in 2003. His fine-form didn’t go unnoticed and the midfielder signed for SK Brann for a fee believed to be in the region of £1m
Vaagan Moen featured 123 times for Brann, scoring an impressive 31 goals. He has also represented Norway seven times scoring one goal.
The Stat Attack
Queens Park Rangers: LWWLD
Blackburn Rovers: DLWLW
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 14
Blackburn Rovers: 16
LAST TIME OUT
FA Cup 3rd Round – 07/01/06
Blackburn Rovers 3 (Todd, Bellamy x2)
Team: Royce, Bignot, Shittu, Rose, Milanese, Rowlands, Santos (Ainsworth), Langley, Cook (Donnelly), Baidoo, Furlong (Moore)
Referee: Mr P Walton
Assistants: Mr G Turner & Mr K Lawson
Fourth Official: Mr A Haines
Peter Walton is the match official for Saturday’s FA Cup clash against Blackburn Rovers and has officiated 14 games this season. His most recent game was the match between Birmingham City and Arsenal.
Last season Walton issued 91 yellow cards and six red cards in 36 games.
To read more see: Ref Watch >>>
I can’t see it being the most entertaining of matches from a QPR perspective but nonetheless I expect some goals especially with our makeshift back four. I’m quite intrigued to see how certain fringe players come in and perform. Hogan Ephraim has a real chance to stake a claim for a starting berth providing his is selected.
Blackburn should put out a fairly strong side considering they are in the top half of the Premier League neither realistically challenging for Europe nor competing in the relegation battle. They might however fancy themselves in the cup this year.
Where: Turf Moor
When: 15/01/2011 – 15.00