League leaders QPR kick-off 2011 with a mouth-watering New Years Day fixture against the in-form Norwich City. QPR sit comfortably at the top with a seven point lead over their nearest competitor, and after an extremely successful Christmas period the R’s now have the chance to really crack on with the promotion push.
Paul Lambert hasn’t had the best of luck with injuries this season but all things considered he has done a magnificent job so far with the Canaries firmly lodged in the play-offs, strongly contending for promotion.
Since taking over from Bryan Gunn last August, Lambert’s record in charge of Norwich is impressive to say the least. The former Scottish International has a win ratio of 58% and appears to have reinvigorated a Norwich side that was most definitely on the downward spiral before he took charge.
The match should be the pick of the Championship fixtures this weekend with both teams gunning for promotion whilst opting to play a more attacking brand of football. It’s fair to say this fixture is a much more exciting prospect when compared to the match against Coventry where the Sky Blues chose to bypass their midfield at every attempt.
Coventry City 0
QPR 2 (Westwood og, Smith)
Team: Kenny, Hill, Connolly, Gorkss, Walker, Derry, Taarabt (Rowlands), Faurlin, Mackie, Smith (Clarke), Helguson
Norwich City 4 (Nelson, Hoolahan x3)
Sheffield United 2 (Reid, Cresswell)
Team: Ruddy, Nelson, Martin, Berthel Askou, Crofts, Fox (McNamee) (Whitbread), Lappin, Smith, Jackson (Hoolahan), Martin, Holt
Norwich City Team News:
Simon Lappin is suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the campaign. Elliot Ward and Henri Lansbury also miss out due to injury. Leon Barnett is also suspended.
Paul Lambert could give a debut to striker Aaron Wilbraham who has signed on loan from MK Dons.
Martin – Nelson -Berthel Askou -Crofts
McNamee- Smith – Fox – Hoolahan
Martin – Holt
Player to watch: Wes Hoolahan
Danielqpr has identified Wes Hoolahan as the One to Watch ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Norwich City.
For all the information on the midfielder Click Here >>>
QPR Team News:
Neil Warnock has no fresh injury concerns. The only issue could be that of tiredness. Having selected the same side two games running in such a short period Warnock may have to switch things up.
Peter Ramage and Lee Cook are out. Akos Buzsaky is a doubt.
Possible line up:
Walker- Connolly – Gorkss – Hill
Faurlín – Derry
Mackie – Taarabt (c) – Smith
Player to watch: Alejandro Faurlín
Alejandro Faurlin has continued where he left off last season with a series of consistent performances in the centre of the R`s midfield. The Argentine has developed a strong understanding with fellow midfielder Shaun Derry. The pair have performed tremendously well over the course of this year`s campaign and will be hoping to continue that form into the New Year. The understated Faurlin is the man who tends to start the R`s more fluid attacking play (courtesy of a Shaun Derry tackle), by quickly seeking out playmaker Adel Taarabt or with a cross-field pass to either winger.
Faurlin signed for the R`s in the summer of 2009 in a deal for worth £3.5 million. The talented 24 year-old started his career at home town side Rosaria Central before moving to Atletico de Rafaela in 2007. In 2008 he joined Instituto de Cordoba of the Argentine second division where he made 27 appearances scoring 7 goals.
The Argentinean born midfielder is extremely popular at Loftus Road having quickly established himself as a fan favourite. Faurlin capped off a marvellous debut season (all things considered) by scooping the ‘Player`s player` and ‘Fans player` of the year awards.
The Stat Attack
Queens Park Rangers: WLLWW
Norwich City: WWLWW
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 38
Norwich City: 42
LAST TIME OUT
Coca Cola Championship – 16/10/10
Norwich City 0
Team: Kenny, Hill, Connolly, Gorkss, Walker, Derry, Buzsaky (Leigertwood), Ephraim (Agyemang), Taarabt (Smith), Mackie, Helguson
Referee: Mr J Moss
Assistants: Mr D Margetts & Mr W Porter
Fourth Official: Mr G Hambling
Jonathan Moss is the match official for Saturday’s game against Norwich City and has officiated 18 games this season. His most recent game was the match between Chesterfield and Torquay.
Last season Moss issued 121 yellow cards and 8 red cards in 37 games.
To read more see: Ref Watch >>>
Although Norwich are bereft of 5 or 6 first teamers they will still fancy their chances of a win. Confidence is high at Carrow Road with Wes Hoolahan and Grant Holt enjoying fine seasons. Those two in particular could cause problems especially Holt, who is somewhat of a menace for defenders. I like the look of Holt, a striker with a decent touch, good awareness and a finish to boot; he has been one of the league`s more impressive performers with 11 goals and 8 assists.
After the enthralling 4-2 win against Sheffield United, Paul Lambert`s team will probably play more cautiously against Rangers as they are dangerous on the counter attack with the pace of Kyle Walker and the invention of Tommy Smith and Adel Taarabt.
Having played everyone now QPR have no-one to fear and should be looking to take the game to every opponent. Jamie Mackie is looking like he might go on another purple patch after scoring against Swansea whilst Adel Taarabt is maturing with every game that passes. If Warnock names the same side for the third consecutive match then I could see QPR stealing a win. Without sounding over-confident I feel this side is our strongest available and should prove to be more than a match for a injury-ravaged Norwich team.
Narrow QPR win. 2-1.
Who: Bristol City
Where: Loftus Road
When: 03/01/11 – 15.00