QUEENS Park Rangers will host Middlesbrough for the first time in over ten years this weekend with both teams fighting hard for a playoff place.
March 4, 1998 was the last time the two sides locked horns as relegation fodder QPR dished out a sound thrashing to Premier League bound ‘Boro (5-0) in one of the results of the season.
A brace from Mike Sheron helped the R’s along their way on that day, but they must now look to modern day inspiration to put the Reds to the sword once more.
The most patient chairman in recent seasons, Steve Gibson, finally lost patience with young manager Gareth Southgate and replaced him with pint-sized Scotsman Gordon Strachan, who’s never short of a ready quip.
His start has been less than desirable however, going four games without a win – with a home defeat coming against a forlorn Plymouth Argyle in his first game in charge.
By comparison QPR hit the heights in terms of attack at the weekend, but were undone by isolated errors in defence, something which Middlesbrough can truly empathise with having picked up the same result this weekend.
Two sides battling for Championship supremacy clash in W12, and to the victors goes some impetus in the playoff race in what should be an open game in West London.
QPR 2 (Simpson 35, Buzsáky 69
Coventry City 2 (Best 16, Wood 81)
Team: Radek Černý, Mikele Leigertwood, Fitz Hall, Matthew Connolly, Gary Borrowdale, Ben Watson, Alejandro Damián Faurlín, Adel Taarabt (Steven Reid 80) Ákos Buzsáky, Wayne Routledge, Jay Simpson.
Peterborough United 2 (Boyd 54, Batt 76)
Middlesbrough 2 (Kitson 28, 58)
Team: Brad Jones, Emmanuel Pogatez, Sean St Ledger, Tony McMahon, David Wheater, Mark Yeates (Justin Hoyte 75), Adam Johnson, Isiah Osbourne, Julio Arca, Dave Kitson, Leroy Lita.
QPR Team News:
Don’t be surprised if Jim Magilton makes changes to his side this weekend, notably to the defence after a disappointing home draw with Coventry City.
Jim has used no fewer than ten different back four combinations in his 18 league games this season, and given that his defenders underperformed again – he may well ring the changes once more.
Radek Černý will start in goal with Mikele Leigertwood and Gary Borrowdale the most likely contenders to keep their place in the back four.
Fitz Hall and Matthew Connolly were the preferred option against Coventry with Kaspars Gork?s inexplicably dropped. The Latvian could be due to return this weekend, but Damion Stewart is less likely.
The two in the middle of the park should remain Alejandro Faurlín and Ben Watson, who arguably had their finest games of the season against the Sky Blues – with Steven Reid having to be content with a place on the bench.
Ákos Buzsáky’s goal may well save his place for another week after a below-par display with Adel Taarabt and Wayne Routledge pitting their wits against a stern defence behind Jay Simpson.
Angelo Balanta (groin) is not expected to make the squad, and neither is loan goalkeeper Rhys Taylor who it seems will only get in the squad should Černý suffer an injury owing to the glut of loan players in W12.
Martin Rowlands (knee), Gavin Mahon (knee) and Lee Cook (knee) remain sidelined with long-term complaints.
Possible line up:
Leigertwood – Hall – Gork?s – Borrowdale
Watson – Faurlín
Buzsáky – Routledge – Taarabt
Player to watch: Ákos Buzsáky
It’s a big weekend for Ákos Buzsáky who has not hit his finest vain of form for quite some time, since the Derby fixture in truth.
His demise in form can be directly correlated with Rangers’ dip in standards, nevertheless it was his strike that gave fans hope of a maximum against Coventry.
Buzsáky has been hailed as a marvellous player in recent seasons at Loftus Road, but it would be fair to say that his creative talents don’t have the impact of an Adel Taarabt.
A talented midfielder with fantastic technical ability Buzsáky has proven himself one of the division’s most sought-after talents, but he will need to step up his recent performances.
To read his career profile Click Here >>>
Middlesbrough Team News:
Who R Ya? >>>
Gordon Strachan may make changes to the side that were held to a 2-2 draw against Peterborough last weekend.
Rhys Williams returns from suspension and could replace Tony McMahon in the ‘Boro back four, while Sean St Ledger and David Wheater will be the preferred central defensive partnership.
Meanwhile Emmanuel Pogatez could continue at full-back, with former Arsenal man Justin Hoyte, Chris Riggott and Andrew Taylor looking for a return.
Argentinean Julio Arca has experienced several Championship promotions with Sunderland and he should partner Aston Villa youngster Isiah Osbourne – while Mark Yeates and Adam Johnson will start wide.
Marcus Bent and Marvin Emnes may have to wait for their opportunity with Dave Kitson hitting form against the Posh and Leroy Lita a formidable Championship forward.
Long term absentees Gary O’Neil (groin), Jeremie Aliadiere (ankle), Seb Hines (knee), Caleb Folan (hamstring) and Matthew Bates (knee) are all sidelined.
Williams – Wheater – St Ledger – Pogatez
Yeates – Osbourne – Arca – Johnson
Lita – Kitson
Player to watch: TBA
The Stat Attack
Queens Park Rangers: L D W L D
Middlesbrough: D L L D D
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 13
LAST TIME OUT
Nationwide League First Division – 04-03-1998
Queens Park Rangers: 5 (Vickers 32og, Bruce 37, Gallen 38, Sheron 45, 53)
Team: Lee Harper, David Bardsley, Steve Morrow, George Kulcsar, Karl Ready, Steve Yates, Mark Perry (Paul Bruce 7), Nigel Quashie (Antti Heinola 89), Mike Sheron, Kevin Gallen (Steve Slade 83), Mark Kennedy.
Queens Park Rangers 6-1 Middlesbrough – 05-03-1983
Referee: Mr Keith Hill (Hertfordshire)
Assistants: Mr Matt Foley (Berkshire) & David Margetts (Essex)
Fourth Official: Mr John Busby (Oxfordshire)
Keith Hill will take charge of Rangers’ clash against Middlesbrough this weekend, and R’s fans will be looking for a distinct improvement in his performance.
Mr Hill sent off two QPR players earlier this season against Swansea, Martin Rowlands and Ben Watson – the latter for an accidental handball after he slipped onto the turf.
He has taken charge of Rangers 11 times during his career, but this weekend marks his first meeting with Middlesbrough.
To read our report on the official Click Here >>>
This should be one of the more open encounters at Loftus Road in recent weeks, with a side looking to come out and attack rather than park the bus.
Leicester City, Crystal Palace and Coventry have all come to Loftus Road and put men behind the ball looking to nick a goal on the break, but in Middlesbrough the R’s can expect an attacking force.
‘Boro have a plethora of attacking talent at their disposal, much in the same way as QPR which should make for an entertaining fixture this weekend.
They are yet to win under Strachan and Magilton’s men are looking good in attack – should the defence hold out then it could be a maximum for Rangers.
LeeCookFan: 3-2 QPR
southernhoop: 2-1 QPR
Ranger1975: 3-1 QPR
Superhoop50: 1-0 Boro
beforerodney: 2-0 QPR
jezza99: 1-1 Draw
Teams: Watford v QPR
Date: Monday December 7, 2009 – 7.45pm
Ground: Vicarage Road, Watford