TOMORROW night sees QPR travel to Fratton Park where they will face south coast side Portsmouth in what should prove to be a thrilling encounter between two teams boasting some quality players for the Championship; Liam Lawrence, Adel Taarabt and Dave Kitson to name a few.
Rangers recorded their first win in five games against Reading on Saturday. The R’s were in fine form producing arguably their performance of the season against a Reading side that looked inept and unable to cope with the outstanding talent of Adel Taarabt and the combative team ethos embodied by players like Shaun Derry and Jamie Mackie.
QPR travel to the south coast in good spirits whereas Pompey will be looking to regroup after their passive defeat to Derby live on Sky. Portsmouth were ‘the’ form side going into their match on Saturday having won six out of the last seven, so it will be interesting to see how their threadbare squad will react on Tuesday following their recent defeat.
Instead of having a large squad of 30 players where only half perform consistently, manager Steve Cotterill has assembled a small squad of players that all fight for the club and pull together as one, performing at a good standard week-in week-out. Their starting XI is pretty strong and providing they can keep everyone fit Pompey will be a dangerous side for most teams this year.
QPR 3 (Taarabt 27pen, Faurlin 61, Smith 71)
Reading 1 (Long 68)
Team: Kenny, Walker, Connolly, Gorkss, Orr (sent off 44), Derry, Smith (Ephraim 89), Taarabt (Clarke 80) Faurlin, Mackie, Hulse (Agyemang 81)
Derby 2 (Savage 23pen, Green 58)
Team: Ashdown, Sonko, Halford, Dickinson, Ward (Kanu 61), Lawrence, Brown (Hughes 75), Mokoena, Utaka, Mullins, Kitson
Portsmouth Team News:
Portsmouth are without striker David Nugent. The former Preston man is out with knee injury sustained in training. John Utaka is expected to continue to start alongside Dave Kitson.
Ricardo Rocha is pushing for a recall after recovering from a hamstring injury. Hermann Hreidarsson and Richard Hughes are also available and hoping for a start.
Halford – Sonko – Mokoena – Dickinson
Hughes – Brown – Mullins – Lawrence
Kitson – Utaka
Player to watch: Liam Lawrence
Liam Lawrence has been identified by DanielQPR as the player to watch ahead of this weekend’s match against Reading.
For all the stats that matter as well as a concise career profile see: One to watch >>>
QPR Team News:
After being sent off against Reading, Bradley Orr is suspended therefore Clint Hill is expected to return at left back and Kyle Walker should resume his usual position at right back.
On loan striker Tommy Smith is available to play against his parent club. Hogan Ephraim is expected to be on the bench again as is Martin Rowlands who is yet to feature this season.
Possible line up:
Walker – Connolly – Gorkss – Hill
Faurlín – Derry
Mackie – Taarabt (c) – Smith
Player to watch: Tommy Smith
The past week has been eventful to say the least for Tommy Smith, the former Watford man had two reasons to celebrate this week, firstly his wife gave birth (congratulations Tommy) and secondly the attacker scored his first goal for the R’s in their 3-1 victory over Reading. Not bad at all.
Smith who is on loan from Portsmouth hasn’t had a great deal of game time since his move and has had to be patient after being reduced to just 10/15 minutes cameos off the bench but on Saturday he took his chance with aplomb scoring his first goal for the club. In general Smith looked extremely lively with some excellent link-up play and probing runs.
Tommy Smith started his career at Watford and made 149 appearances scoring 33 times before moving to Sunderland. Smith spent one season with the Black Cats playing 35 games scoring just four goals. After contract negotiations broke down Smith opted for a move to Derby County, where he ironically scored his first goal for the Rams against QPR. He went on to make 90 appearances for Derby scoring 20 times before rejoining former club Watford for a fee believed to be around £500,000.
During his second spell with the Hornets Smith played 124 times and scored 27 goals. Due to financial restraints at Watford, Smith was sold to then Premier League side Portsmouth for £1.8 million. He struggled to really make an impact on the South coast making 18 appearances and scoring just once.
The Stat Attack
Queens Park Rangers: DDDDW
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 13
LAST TIME OUT
Coca Cola Championship – 14/04/01
Portsmouth 1 (Bradbury 2)
QPR 1 (Thomson 56)
Team: Harper, Bignot, Ready, Plummer, Baraclough (Darlington 68), Rose (Wardley 59), Knight, Peacock, Bruce, Thomson, Crouch
Referee: G Ward
Assistants: H Lennard & M Pottage
Fourth Official: W Atkin
Gavin Ward is the match official for Tuesday’s game and has officiated 11 games this season. His most recent game was Leicester’s 1-0 victory over Preston.
Last season Ward issued 110 yellow cards and five red cards in 31 games.
To read more see: Ref Watch >>>
I think if Portsmouth opt to play a 4-4-2 system which in fairness is understandable considering they are the home team, QPR will dominate and subsequently win the midfield battle despite Michael
Brown’s best intentions, just like Derby did on Saturday.
Rangers have the luxury of playing Adel Taarabt in a free role in front of Shaun Derry and Alejandro Faurlin which will stretch the opposing centre midfield pairing of Mullins and Brown. If Brown tries to mark Taarabt out of the game, gaps will open up behind for Ali Faurlin, Tommy Smith and Jamie Mackie to hopefully capitalise.
Portsmouth have some excellent attacking players in Dave Kitson and Liam Lawrence who are not only proven at Championship level but in the Premiership as well. They will also be dangerous on the counter attack with the pace of striker John Utaka potentially being a real threat for some of our slower members of the back four. Greg Halford’s long throw will be some cause for concern as it is a real weapon which could create problems for our defence.
To conclude, if QPR’s game plan doesn’t quite work out we have the option to change it up, Portsmouth do not. Patrick Agyemang has proved to be a valuable asset off the bench and has changed the game on two occasions now with goals against Derby County and Bristol City. Skipper Martin Rowlands will also be hoping to play some part and we have the added ingenuity of Hogan Ephraim should Mackie and Smith’s attacking play comes to nothing.
Who: Nottingham Forest
Where: City Ground
When: 13/11/10 – 15.00