SWANSEA City will be looking to re-ignite their promotion push following a shock home defeat at the weekend.
The Swans` mesmerising run towards the playoffs showed no signs of stopping when they were due to face Rangers on Tuesday February 3, but recently their charge appears to have hit the buffers, epitomised by the surprise 3-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace at the weekend.
One win in five games in all competitions has seen them slip out of the race for automatic promotion, but still within reach of a playoff place – a mere three points of sixth placed Preston North End.
Should they reach the lottery of the playoffs they will point to in-form striker Jason Scotland as one of the key figures. His 21 goals in all competitions this season have pushed the Welsh outfit into a competitive league position and also to cup heroics against Premier League Portsmouth.
Roberto Martinez has surprised many with his blend of British steel and foreign flair as his side sit on the periphery of the playoff chase. It would be foolhardy to discount the Swans just yet but three wins in nine games has seen their credentials slip but never depart.
View From The Bench
Rangers boss Paulo Sousa told QPR.co.uk that he believed his side we still in with a shout of a playoff place following stalemate against Southampton.
He said: ‘Until the maths gives us other ideas, we will keep believing, keep thinking, keep working and keep motivating our players to try and reach the top-six.
‘But, the board have expectations and I have expectations and next season we will be stronger and more focused on achieving promotion.’
‘We had a 17 year-old, a 19 year-old and a lot of other young players and that fills me with great belief.’ said Sousa.
‘Antonio and Adel (Taarabat) are very good prospects, but they are still young and will need time to gel.
‘The fact we came here, to a tough place, and got a clean sheet and a point with such a young side is very positive.’
Swansea City boss Roberto Matinez gave a frank assessment of his side to the BBC following a shock home defeat to Crystal Palace.
He said: ‘It wasn’t the result that we were looking for and we are disappointed with certain aspects of our play as we played with our heart instead of our head.
‘Crystal Palace were well organised but defensively we conceded very soft goals, one from a set-piece and the other we didn’t deal with a long ball and that is disappointing.
‘We were focusing on the result and not the performance and that shows anxiety. We were not at our best, accepted it and allowed Crystal Palace to take the three points.
‘They had three shots on target and scored three times. The 3-1 defeat doesn’t reflect the game but we have to learn from that.’
Queens Park Rangers Team News:
After another disappointing result combined with a brutal recent fixture schedule, QPR boss Paulo Sousa will make changes once again to his line-up in a hope to stem the tide of a poor run.
Radek Cerny once again proved himself able between the sticks at the weekend, keeping another clean sheet, and once again keeping maligned stopper Lee Camp out of the first team squad.
The R`s look set to keep faith with the same defensive unit that proved themselves capable against Southampton. However some recent shaky fixtures from Damion Stewart will no doubt alert the attention of Fitz Hall who hasn`t had a genuine chance to break the flourishing Hall-Gorkss partnership.
Peter Ramage will once again line up at right back as he further endears himself to the Rangers supporters who have travelled to Doncaster and Southampton in the last two fixtures. Matthew Connolly occupies the left back berth with Damien Delaney and Gary Borrowdale sidelined with injury.
Should Sousa opt for a trio once again in the centre of midfield he should look no further than Jordi Lòpez in the holding role with options infront of him including Mikele Leigertwood, Liam Miller, Hogan Ephraim, Matteo Alberti or Adel Taarabt – although the latter may be preferred on the flank.
With Lee Cook missing once again with a knee injury Tottenham loanee Adel Taarabt looks set for his first starts for Rangers at the expense of Ephraim or Miller depending on who Sousa prefers in a central role. Wayne Routledge will occupy the right flank in a bid to improve his waning form.
Dexter Blackstock was deployed as the lone forward against Southampton – a ploy which failed dramatically. Support will come from the returning Samuel Di Carmine and Angelo Balanta who were both left out against Southampton to the benefit of debutante Antonio German, while Heidar Helguson remains sidelined.
Rowan Vine may be rewarded for his rapid progress with a place on the bench, as he faces Charlton in a reserve fixture in the coming weeks. Long-term absentees Akos Buzsaky and Martin Rowlands will once again be missing from the sixteen while Patrick Agyemang will be looking to regain his fitness before rejoining the squad.
Player to watch: Adel Taarabt
Flashes of skill and moments of trickery is what we were promised from the young Moroccan heading into the Southampton fixture, and he didn`t disappoint, coming from the bench to display the vast potential he has in his locker.
Tottenham fans flocked over to Vital QPR following the announcement of his signature and believed there to be exciting times ahead for the R`s should they get the best out of undoubted potential.
Just a few moments towards the end of the stalemate at the weekend displayed his capabilities and had there been a final product to some audacious efforts we at QPR may well have been hailing ‘The Moroccan Zidane` as he is known by a section of supporters.
His potential is there for all to see, if he can convert that to assists or goals Rangers may well have a talent on their hands that Mr Briatore will be reluctant to relinquish at the end of the loan period.
To view Adel`s profile Click Here >>>
Swansea City Team News:
Monk will come into the central defensive role in place of stand in centre back Albert Serran – who has had more of a chance in the first team set-up in recent weeks. He will partner summer record signing Ashley Williams with Angel Rangel lining up at right back.
The fight for Alan Tate`s shirt at full back will be between his replacement Matty Collins or the Federico Bessone – who was left out the squad all together on Saturday. Mark Gower started at the expense of Tom Butler on the right against the Eagles, but he like others faces a fight to retain his place.
The competition for midfield places is fierce with Leon Britton, Darren Pratley, Jordi Gomez and Nathan Dyer attempting to keep their place with young midfielder Joe Allen looking to shake things up.
Roberto Martinez may opt to give Jason Scotland a partner with Andrea Orlandi Guillem Bauza and Gorka Pintado vying for the role next to the in form forward.
Long-term absentees include the influential defensive midfielder Ferrie Bodde, whose move away from the club was quashed with an ill fated cruciate knee ligament injury. He has previously praised the abilities of his stand in Joe Allen however, as he builds for next season.
Team v Crystal Palace Dorus De Vries, Angel Rangel, Ashley Williams, Albert Serran, Alan Tate (Matty Collins 46), Mark Gower (Gorka Pintado 54), Leon Britton, Darren Pratley, Jordi Gomez, Nathan Dyer (Andrea Orlandi 82), Jason Scotland.
Player to watch: Jason Scotland
Vital QPR has singled out striker Jason Scotland as the One to Watch as the R`s host Swansea City tomorrow night.
To view all the stats on the One To Watch Click Here >>>
QPR: Last 5 Games: L L D L D
Swansea City: Last 5 Games: D D D W L
Paulo Sousa`s side have found the going tough of late going nine games without a win, while the prowess of their forwards has also come under fire only bagging four goals in the Championship this calendar year. The team has also failed to score in their last four fixtures.
Swansea`s promotion chase hit the buffers at the weekend – the 3-1 home loss to Crystal Palace only their second since November. The Swans have only failed to score once since the turn of the year but they have only kept four clean sheets in that time.
Lenny367 has all the stats in The Stat-Attack >>>.
HEAD 2 HEAD
Swansea City: 9
Last Time Out.
Tuesday 21st October 2008 – Liberty Stadium
Coca Cola Championship
Swansea City 0
Rangers Team: Radek Cerny, Damien Delaney, Damion Stewart, Fitz Hall, Peter Ramage (Matthew Connolly 80), Gavin Mahon, Mikele Leigertwood, Martin Rowlands (Daniel Parejo 59), Lee Cook (Emmanuel Ledesma 65), Dexter Blackstock, Akos Buzsaky.
See also: Swansea 1-2 QPR – 1979/80.
See also: QPR 3-2 Swansea City – 1979/80.
Referee– Mr G D Horwood
Assistants – Mr D Belbin & Mr J P Magill
Fourth official – Mr R Kendall
Mr Graham Horwood from Bedfordshire will officiate the R`s clash with Swansea tomorrow evening.
To get all the stats on the official Click Here >>>.
Rangers have missed out on some key opportunities to pick up points on the road, and they now return to Loftus Road in what is a very tough test against a side intent on playoff glory.
Roberto Martinez`s men are a side built on flair and excellent football while never neglecting their defensive duties, making them a tough team play against; Which is why I predict:
Boxer`s Prediction: 1-1 Draw
Next Up In W12:
Who– Bristol City
Where– Loftus Road
When– Saturday 21st March 2009 – 3:00pm