TWO of the Championship`s underachieving sides meet at Loftus Road tomorrow with QPR looking to rekindle their fleeting hopes of a top six finish.
Back to back wins have helped to improve confidence in W12 after an extended period of indifferent form. Rangers had been nine without a win before the victory over Swansea City, and goals from Jordi López and Adel Taarabt helped to make it two in two against Bristol City.
Neil Warnock`s side have proven far too indifferent to sustain a similar promotion push to last season, with the Eagles able to pull a rabbit out of the hat against the likes of Swansea City – but unable to pick up point when it matters against Burnley and Barnsley.
A contributing factor to Palace`s disappointing season has been chairman Simon Jordan admitting his willingness to sell the club and henceforth sell off key assets such as Ben Watson. It seems that Crystal Palace will not be able to move forward until the club has changed hands and renewed financial interest can help Warnock bolster his squad.
At present the Eagles have a blend of youth and experience with talented youngsters such as Victor Moses and Nathaniel Clyne playing alongside the experienced heads of Shaun Derry and Shefki Kuqi, but further investment is required if Palace are to achieve their Premier League goal.
View From The Bench
Rangers boss Paulo Sousa told QPR.co.uk of the pride he had in his players following the 2-1 victory over Bristol City at Loftus Road.
He said: ‘I’m very pleased for all my players,
‘We have had a lot of critics, so to win two games in a row is very important.
‘We made a great performance in midweek, showing a lot of effort, spirit and unity – and we did the same again today.’
Crystal Palace boss Neil Warnock told cpfc.co.uk that he was pleased with his side in the 0-0 stalemate at home with Reading.
He said: ‘It was a really good game and I enjoyed it. I think even with 60 minutes gone it was a cracking match and I thought we shaded it.
“The young lads did well all the way through and I did not think they were a weakness.
‘They will all be fit for the QPR game so we are glad to get through. Jose Fonte should have really not played tonight or Shaun Derry who will need an operation on his shoulder soon and we will have to decide when to let him do that.
“It is more than likely to be after the Southampton game, let him have the next four games and then have it done then and give James Comley, another youngster, a chance to come into the team.’
Queens Park Rangers Team News:
There will be a selection headache for Paulo Sousa as Rangers host Crystal Palace tomorrow afternoon with a wealth of talent available to the Portuguese boss.
Radek Cerny will again start in goal with Damion Stewart looking to regain his central defensive berth from Matthew Connolly. Both Connolly and Fitz Hall limped out of recent games prompting a tactical shift with Mikele Leigertwood being deployed as a makeshift centre back.
Peter Ramage and Damien Delaney are likely to keep their respective full back roles with Kaspars Gorkss returning from international duty to line-up alongside on of the three central defenders mentioned above.
Into midfield and Jordi López will be looking to build on a stunning goal against Bristol City in his holding role – with Leigertwood and Hogan Ephraim likely to link up just infront of the Spaniard. In wide areas Rangers are likely to select Wayne Routledge and Adel Taarabt – with Lee Cook and Matteo Alberti looking set to sit out.
The lone striker`s role looks set to be occupied by Samuel Di Carmine with Dexter Blackstock departing on loan to Nottingham Forest. Contrary to Dexter`s assertion, Helguson was fit enough to play a full game for Iceland and will be available for selection this weekend.
However the addition of Rowan Vine to the squad in recent games has been a confidence boost to Rangers and he may well get the nod ahead of the Italian youngster should Sousa believe him to be fit enough.
Martin Rowlands, Patrick Agyemang and Akos Buzsaky will have to wait until next season to play first team football again for Rangers.
Player to watch: Rowan Vine
Rangers have proven that they have several creative outlet in recent fixtures, but the goals have not been forthcoming that perhaps the build up play deserves.
In steps Rowan Vine; the former Birmingham City and Portsmouth striker was a revelation in W12 last season until an ill-advised lunge by reserve goalkeeper Matthew Pickens ended his season prematurely, breaking his leg in a training session.
Since then it has been a slow road to recovery for Vine who had to have another operation on the injury because the broken bones didn`t knit correctly. Now however he looks set to return in some capacity on Saturday and give Rangers a welcome boost in a fleeting playoff chase.
To view Rowan`s profile Click Here >>>
Crystal Palace Team News:
Claude Davis could be set to return to the heart of the Eagles rearguard and he will vie for a spot in the back-line with Paddy McCarthy. Shaun Derry will put off an operation for a few more weeks to participate on Saturday.
Julián Speroni will continue in goal with young talent Nathaniel Clyne expected to keep his position at right back. Matt Lawrence will make way for either Davis or McCarthy should Warnock decide to change a back four that was resilient against Reading. Jose Fonte will also be fighting to keep his place with Clint Hill lining up at left back.
Victor Moses will start on the left flank with Paul Ifill pushing Shaun Derry close for a starting place this weekend. Neil Danns and John Oster will make up the remaining places in midfield with youngster James Comley set to sit on the bench.
There are several options in a strikers role including Arsenal youngster Rui Fonte, Sunderland loanee Anthony Stokes and hot off the heels of his deciding goal against Wales, Shefki Kuqi looks set to start for the Eagles.
Team v Reading: Julián Speroni, Nathaniel Clyne, Matt Lawrence, Jose Fonte (Rui Fonte 88), Clint Hill, Victor Moses, Shaun Derry, Neil Danns, John Oster, Shefki Kuqi, Anthony Stokes (Paul Ifill 81).
Player to watch: Victor Moses
Vital QPR has singled out striker Victor Moses as the One to Watch as the R`s host Crystal Palace tomorrow afternoon.
To view all the stats on the One To Watch Click Here >>>
QPR: Last 5 Games: L D L D W
Bristol City: Last 5 Games: D L L W D
Lenny367 has all the stats in The Stat-Attack >>>
HEAD 2 HEAD
Crystal Palace: 29
LAST TIME OUT
Saturday 29th November 2008 – Selhurst Park
Coca Cola Championship
Crystal Palace 0
Rangers Team: Radek Cerny, Damien Delaney, Damion Stewart, Gavin Mahon, Mikele Leigertwood, Daniel Parejo (Heidar Helguson 46), Dexter Blackstock (Martin Rowlands 57), Patrick Agyemang (Samuel Di Carmine 90+1), Kaspars Gorkss, Peter Ramage, Hogan Ephraim.
See Also: Crystal Palace 0-3 QPR – 02-12-89.
See also: QPR 2-0 Crystal Palace – 19-08-89
Referee– Mr S Mathieson
Assistants – Mr P W Barnes & G S Hambling
Fourth official – Mr M Blackledge
Mr Scott Mathieson from Cheshire will officiate the R`s clash with Crystal Palace tomorrow afternoon.
To get all the stats on the official Click Here >>>.
Rangers have proven resurgent in recent games with the International break coming precicely at the wrong time as far as Rangers fleeting playoff hopes are concerned. Back to back wins have once again let Rangers fans dream of a top six finish.
QPR take on Crystal Palace at Loftus Road, in a fixture which has in recent years conjured up some exciting fixtures with free flowing attacking football. It`s time for Rangers to stand up and be counted, and nothing short of a win will do; Which is why I predict:
Boxer`s Prediction: 2-0 Rangers
Southernhoop`s Prediction: 4-0 Rangers
Sandydl`s Prediction: 2-0 Rangers
Where– Turf Moor
When– Saturday 11th April 2009 – 3:00pm