RANGERS entertain Coventry City in their first Championship test of 2009, a side with a good recent record in W12.
The R`s will be looking for a positive start as the second part of the season gets underway. In Coventry City they face tough opposition as they carry the persistent threat of Clinton Morrison spearheading their attack.
Coventry themselves currently sit 14th in the Championship standings under boss Chris Coleman with only one defeat in their last seven in all competitions.
The Sky Blues will be looking for a third successive victory in W12 against the third different manager, with John Gregory and Luigi De Canio both falling victim to City`s potent attacking threat.
The clubs also have something in common, neither board fancied Iain Dowie to take the club forward. He was given a significantly shorter time to prove himself at Rangers than at the Ricoh but nevertheless remains unemployed.
The R`s will be looking to stop hitman Morrison who has scored seven times in 11 appearances against QPR. He doesn`t have much in the way of partnerships with Leon Best and £1.2m rated Freddie Eastwood failing to perform this season. Accompany this with the fact that central defender Elliott Ward the next best goalscorer with four goals.
Rangers captured the signature of former Sky Blue full back Gary Borrowdale a week ago today, but he is not expected to feature owing to his poor fitness levels after joining from the Ricoh. However the R`s can call upon new signings Heidar Helguson, Lee Cook and Wayne Routledge as they look to pick up a valuable three points.
R`s boss Paulo Sousa spoke to QPR.co.uk following the goalless draw in W12 indicating that he was disappointed the R`s couldn`t break down a stubborn Burnley rearguard.
He said: ‘Of course we want to win every game, but it was a very tough fixture today.
‘They played very well and defended in numbers. The first and second phase of our play was good, but we didn’t create as many chances as we have done in previous weeks.
‘The last moment of our offensive organisation wasn’t as good as it can be. In previous weeks we have created chances and scored goals. Today, we controlled long spells of the game – the first and second phase in particular – and made good transitions, but didn’t create chances.
‘Sometimes football is like that, but we can go up to Burnley and get a result.’
Sky Blues boss Chris Coleman spoke to CCFC.co.uk following his side`s FA Cup win over Kidderminster Harriers.
He said: ‘We’ve played better than that and lost games this season but the main thing was that we put ourselves ion the draw for the next round,’
‘I’m just glad we were not one of the surprises of the weekend. I told the boys to stay out of the headlines and they did that and now we are in the next round.
‘We were seven players short ahead of the game through injury, illness and suspension but we were patient, we bided our time and now we have back-to-back wins at the Ricoh and a third clean sheet on the bounce.’
The Coventry manager told the Coventry Telegraph of his growing injury crisis, added to by young striker Robbie Simpson at the weekend.
He said: “Robbie has got a haematoma in his thigh which can be very dangerous,
“His leg is double the size of the other one because he took such a bad crack on it,”
“We were very careful with him over the weekend because there is a lot of bleeding in there.
“But he is a tough kid – I was speaking to him this morning with the physio and we were talking about three weeks but Robbie said, ‘no, I`m a quick healer,`.
“He is desperate to get back because he has been in the team and done well, scoring a couple of goals, so the timing is very unfortunate.”
Queens Park Rangers Team News:
Rangers have had their squad bolstered considerably since the January transfer window opened a week ago.
The permanent signings of Heidar Helguson, Lee Cook and Gary Borrowdale after their respective loan periods. However the latter is not expected to feature owing to a fitness problem owing to months on the sidelines at the Ricoh Arena.
The R`s have also made a move for Aston Villa winger Wayne Routledge who will be available for selection this weekend. Lest we forget the returning loan trio with Zesh Rehman, Lee Camp and Adam Bolder all available for Paulo Sousa.
Rangers may not deviate too much from the line-up that drew against Burnley in the FA Cup, particularly in terms of the defence with Kaspars Gorkss and Damion Stewart performing well.
Sousa may well revert back to a 4-4-2 formation now he has the suitable wingers at his disposal. Wayne Routledge and Lee Cook are expected to line up in the wide areas, with Martin Rowlands and Gavin Mahon likely to take up the central midfield berth.
Upfront Heidar Helguson looks set to start alongside a choice crop of strikers who have failed to find the net on a consistent basis. Patrick Agyemang, Dexter Blackstock and Samuel Di Carmine head the field to partner the Icelandic international.
The R`s will be without Fitz Hall who had his nose broken by the errant elbow of Grzegorz Rasiak, an incident for which the Watford forward wasn`t brought to book. Long term absentees Akos Buzsaky and Rowan Vine remain sidelined.
Player to watch: Wayne Routledge
One of Rangers` newest additions looks set to make his debut this weekend, and Routledge could prove to be one of the missing links in Rangers push for the playoffs.
Routledge who signed from Aston Villa last week has a good Championship pedigree having helped former club Crystal Palace to promotion, and subsequently plying his trade in the Premier League in the years that followed.
The Sidcup born winger has played for Spurs, Portsmouth and Villa in the top flight, but now looks to rebuild a stuttering career in the second tier at Loftus Road.
Routledge`s pace and skill make him an excellent threat and a useful outlet for QPR, as he can play on both the left and the right. His trickery and direct running may well provide the R`s with that killer instinct that they`ve been looking for in recent weeks.
He could prove the difference between playoff pretenders to promotion hopefuls.
Coventry City Team News:
Coventry are currently in the midst of an injury crisis and will have four men missing for this weekend`s clash.
Forwards Robbie Simpson and Michael Mifsud are out, along with defensive duo Elliott Ward and Scott Dann, with the latter progressing well following a long-term injury.
Those that still remain a doubt are stopper Keiren Westwood, Danny Fox and dangerous wide man Jay Tabb. However there is some good news on the horizon with Leon McKenzie, and Stephen Wright both expected to feature in W12.
Guillaume Beuzelin`s suspension has been served and manager Coleman hopes that his midfield general can wriggle free from a knee complaint. Marcus Hall won`t make it in time as both he and his Rangers namesake have broken noses – his from a freak training ground incident involving former R`s loanee Leon Best.
Dimi Konstantopoulos and Donovan Simmonds won`t be available after extending their respective loan deals with Swansea City and Kilmarnock respectively.
Player to watch: Clinton Morrison
Rangers nemesis Clinton Morrison is the one to watch as the R`s take on Coventry City.
To view all the detail regarding the One to Watch Click Here >>>
Match Facts & Stats
QPR: Last 5 Games: L D W D D
Coventry City: Last 5 Games: W L D D W
The R`s are now four unbeaten after recent draws against Plymouth Argyle, Charlton Athletic and Watford sandwiching a hard fought win against Preston North End. The goals have dried up in W12 the last couple of fixtures with 0-0 stalemates against Watford and Burnley in the FA Cup.
The Sky Blues have suffered only one defeat in their last six league games against Watford. Wins over Charlton Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday have helped redress the balance and keep Coleman`s men above water.
HEAD 2 HEAD
Coventry City: 43
Last Time Out.
Saturday 20th September 2008 – Ricoh Arena
Coca Cola Championship
Coventry City 1 (Elliott Ward 15pen)
Rangers Team: Radek Cerny, Peter Ramage (Daniel Parejo 56), Kaspars Gorkss, Damion Stewart, Damien Delaney, Gavin Mahon, Mikele Leigertwood, Emmanuel Ledesma (Akos Buzsaky 53), Martin Rowlands, Lee Cook, Dexter Blackstock (Patrick Agyemang 77).
See also: One Day In History – Coventry City 1978-79.
Referee– Mr K Stroud
Assistants – Mr R Ganfield & Mr I Gosling
Fourth official – Mr G Hegley
Keith Stroud from Hampshire will take charge of the R`s clash with Coventry tomorrow afternoon.
To get all the stats concerning the official Click Here >>>.
I back Rangers to keep the same defensive shape for another shut out at Loftus Road. However I think the added attacking prowess with Helguson and Routledge may well give the R`s the edge and help them seal the first win against Coventry in W12 since Cureton`s hatrick over four years ago; Which is why I predict:
Boxer`s Prediction: 2-0 Rangers
Ranger1975`s Prediction: 1-0 Rangers
Sandydl`s Prediction: 2-0 Rangers
ACE`s Prediction: 2-1 Rangers
Who– Burnley (FA CUP 3rd Round Replay)
Where– Turf Moor
When– Tuesday January 13 – 7:45pm