Tomorrow afternoon sees last year`s Championship top two meet in the Premier League for the first time in sixteen years. Neil Warnock takes his depleted Ranger`s squad to Carrow Road in what should be a fast-paced fiery encounter with both sides marking this fixture as a must win. It`s fair to say both sides have adapted to the Premier League well and have learnt quickly from their inevitable mistakes in the top flight.
QPR picked up another valuable three points last week at the Britannia and even though they conceded two goals, Warnock`s charges displayed tremendous resilience against what was a shameless aerial bombardment. The R`s will need to draw on that defensive solidity again tomorrow as Norwich will certainly attack from the off. In fact both teams are very positive which makes for a very entertaining game. The R`s gaffer has a lengthy list of players that are unavailable which does give Norwich a slight upper hand going into the match. If QPR can remain positive in their approach then I believe they still have enough quality to get at least a point.
The pressure will certainly be on Norwich tomorrow as they look to find their first win in four which was against Swansea in mid October. Paul Lambert has developed a positive hard-working side which has surprised many this season. The most impressive factor about Norwich`s play is their energy and enthusiasm. Their level of pressing all over the park is very good, forcing several teams into mistakes, sometimes leading to goals, for example Arsenal last week. Unfortunately their defence has let them down this season. The Canaries have conceded eight in their last three, which is cause for concern.
Norwich City 1 (Morison)
Arsenal (Van Persie x2)
Team: Ruddy, Martin, Barnett, Tierney, Naughton, Johnson, Crofts, Pilkington (Jackson), Hoolahan (Holt), Fox (Bennett), Morison
Stoke City 2 (Walters, Shawcross)
QPR 3 (Helguson x2, Young)
Team: Kenny, Young (Orr), Gabbidon, Ferdinand, Hill, Mackie, Faurlin, Barton, Traore, Wright-Phillips, Helguson
Norwich City Team News:
Full back Russell Martin is expected to continue in the heart of the Canaries defence as Zak Whitbread, Daniel Ayala and Ritchie de Laet are still unavailable for selection.
Naughton – Martin – Barnett – Tierney
Pilkington – Johnson – Crofts – Hoolahan
Morison – Holt
Player to watch: Anthony Pilkington
Vital QPR has singled out Anthony Pilkington as the One to Watch this weekend
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QPR Team News:
The R`s will be without skipper Joey Barton who is suspended after collecting five yellow cards. Heider Helguson should be fit to start while fellow striker Jay Bothroyd is likely to return to the squad. Out-of-favour playmaker Adel Taarabt returns too.
Luke Young is a major doubt with a knee injury so Bradley Orr is expected to slot in at right back.
Possible line up:
Orr – Ferdinand – Gabbidon – Traore
Mackie – Derry – Faurlin – Wright-Phillips
Bothroyd – Helguson
Player to watch: Armand Traore
Following the victory to Stoke much of the plaudits were directed in the way of Heider ‘the brave` Helguson (and rightly so). However, another huge positive to come out of that game was Armand Traore`s transition from left back to left wing. Instant comparisons to Gareth Bale were made last week and you can see why. Traore possesses electric pace and dazzling dribbling skills which unfortunately for the Stoke fullbacks proved too much on the day as he was a constant menace. If selected in that position I could see a really interesting battle between Kyle Naughton and Traore tomorrow. And to be honest judging by last week`s performance I could see Traore dominating the Spurs loanee.
The Stat Attack
Queens Park Rangers: DWLLW
Norwich City: WLDLL
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 38
Norwich City: 43
LAST TIME OUT
Championship – 1/01/11
Norwich City 1 (Martin)
Team: Kenny, Hill (Orr), Gorkss, Walker, Connolly (Sent Off), Derry, Taarabt (Tofas), Faurlin, Clarke, Helguson (Ageymang), Mackie.
Referee: Mr M Clattenburg
Assistants: Mr S Child & Mr S Beck
Fourth Official: Mr A Woolmer
Mark Clattenburg is the match official for Saturday`s game. This season Clattenburg has issued 39 yellow cards and 3 red cards in 11 games.
Usually I would never fancy us against Norwich but I got a good feeling about this one. Although I think it will end in a draw there is something about the way QPR are playing at the moment which fills me with great confidence. There is a unity and passion in the R`s play that gives me great hope going into any fixture right now. Even with a depleted squad I still believe we will get a point. Norwich will be one of the toughest places to go to this year and I just hope the boys have recovered sufficiently after what was a very strenuous physical examination away at Stoke.
Like most I can see it being a ferociously paced game with goals at either end. Norwich`s Steve Morison will need to be kept quiet which is easier said than done, as from what I`ve seen of the Norwich talisman he likes to work both channels and drift into space frequently which is a nightmare for defenders. If QPR can work their play down the wings I could see Marc Tierney being exposed easily by the pace of Traore and Wright-Phillips.
Where: LOFTUS ROAD
When: 03/12/2011 – 1500