NEIL Warnock looks to maintain his 100% record in the QPR hot-seat as he faces his home-town club Sheffield United this weekend.
The ex-Blades boss departed Bramall Lane following relegation from the top-flight and is still highly regarded by many in the red half of the Steel City.
The transformation of Rangers under Warnock has been incredible, as his man management skills have been lauded by several of the players at Loftus Road.
A club previously in free-fall has been dragged from the danger zone and will now look to secure a mid-table Championship finish if the resurgent form continues.
Sheffield United meanwhile still harbour playoff aspirations despite a recent dip in form. They have however made Bramall Lane a fortress with no defeat there in their last ten games.
The two sides aren’t strangers having met twice already this year alone, but under the guidance of Paul Hart Rangers scarcely whimpered as they were unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup.
This Rangers side will be very different however and the confidence shift will be easy to gage as Warnock looks for the maximum against his former club.
QPR 2 (Taarabt 36pen, Stewart 49)
Team: Carl Ikeme, Matt Connolly, Kaspars Gork?s, Damion Stewart, Matt Hill, Adel Taarabt (Ákos Buzsáky 83), Alejandro Damián Faurlín, Mikele Leigertwood, Hogan Ephraim (Lee Cook 78), Jay Simpson (Rowan Vine 85), Tamás Priskin.
Peterborough United 1 (Mackail-Smith 40)
Sheffield United 0
Team: Mark Bunn, Chris Morgan, Nyron Nosworthy, Jordan Stewart, Kyle Bartley, Lee Williamson (Mark Yeates 46), Nick Montgomery, James Harper, Richard Cresswell, Jamie Ward (Stephen Quinn 41), Ched Evans (Henri Camara 8)
Sheffield United Team News:
Sheffield United have several doubts going into this weekend’s clash at Bramall Lane, with players leaving the field injured in the loss at Peterborough.
Mark Bunn will continue in goal with Nyron Nosworthy, Chris Morgan and Jordan Stewart sure-fire starters for the Blades – Kyle Bartley will vie with Marcel Seip for the final defensive spot.
The Blades will be without Jamie Ward (hamstring) and Lee Williamson (hamstring), which will more than likely see Mark Yeates and Stephen Quinn come to the fore.
There can be no questioning the central midfield duo however with former Warnock favourite Nick Montgomery and January signing James Harper the combative pairing.
Richard Cresswell will once again lead the line with Henri Camara his likely partner – the latter showing well at Bramall Lane against QPR in the cup – Ched Evans is out with a shoulder complaint.
Nosworthy – Morgan – Seip – Stewart
Yeates – Montgomery – Harper – Quinn
Camara – Cresswell
Player to watch: TBA
QPR Team News:
Neil Warnock will once again be reluctant to make changes after a productive midweek performance and result against relegation threatened Plymouth.
Carl Ikeme will seek to build on an excellent disaply with Radek Černý sitting out – Matt Connolly, Kaspars Gork?s, Damion Stewart and Matt Hill will line up in defence.
Alejandro Faurlín should partner ex-Blade Mikele Leigertwood in the middle with Adel Taarabt sure to keep his spot after a sterling performance, along with Hogan Ephraim vying with Lee Cook on the left.
Tamás Priskin and Marcus Bent will fight it out for the final loan spot and a spot alongside top scorer Jay Simpson – Antonio German and Rowan Vine more viable options from the bench.
Martin Rowlands (knee) and Gavin Mahon (knee) remain the only long term absentees.
Possible line up:
Connolly – Stewart – Gork?s – Hill
Taarabt – Faurlín – Leigertwood – Ephraim
Bent – Simpson
Player to watch: Adel Taarabt
Adel Taarabt was in sparkling form on Tuesday night and will no doubt be looking to build on a confidence-boosting display against Plymouth.
The Moroccan international will take the form against Argyle into this weekend’s clash at Bramall Lane and look to put a dogged defence to the sword.
His trickery and skill was incredible at times and belied the Championship billing, and he will undoubtedly be a crucial weapon if the R’s are to achieve the maximum this weekend.
To read his career profile Click Here >>>
The Stat Attack
Sheffield United: W L W L L
Queens Park Rangers: L W L W W
HEAD 2 HEAD
Sheffield United: 14
Queens Park Rangers: 15
LAST TIME OUT
FA Cup – 12-01-2010
Queens Park Rangers 2 (Buzsáky 71pen, Stewart 88)
Sheffield United 3 (Williamson 19, Ward 68, Cresswell 70)
Team: Radek Černý, Peter Ramage, Damion Stewart, Mikele Leigertwood, Wayne Routledge, Ákos Buzsáky, Patrick Agyemang, Kaspars Gork?s, Alejandro Faurlín (Adel Taarabt 69), Jay Simpson (Antonio German 80), Gary Borrowdale.
Sheffield United 1-1 QPR – 14-11-1970
QPR 1-0 Sheffield United – 25-10-1975
Referee: Mr Anthony Bates (Staffordshire)
Assistants: Mr Jonathan Hunt (Co Durham) & Mr Ryan Johnson (G Manchester)
Fourth Official: Mr Alf Greenwood (Yorkshire)
Experienced official Mr Bates will take charge of his 14th QPR game – however only four of those have ended in victories.
Most recently he presided over a defeat away at Doncaster Rovers, a fixture that signalled the demise in Rangers’ season and ultimately departing boss Jim Magilton.
To read our report on the official Click Here >>>
This scoreline is ambitious, but achievable given the recent form of the two sides. The Warnock factor should not be underestimated in this instance.
These are the kind of games that the new boss will have his side up for, and they have displayed in recent games that they are more than capable of mixing it with the big boys.
A clean sheet will be almost as important as the three points, and a victory against Sheffield United would be a huge dent to the Blades’ playoff hopes.
Teams: Reading v QPR
Date: Tuesday March 16, 2010 – 7.45pm
Ground: Madejski Stadium, Reading