QUEENS Park Rangers stifled Tottenham Hotspur to claim a battling point in the early Premier League kick off at Loftus Road.
A game that hardly captured the imagination saw an organised Rangers side frustrate their well-perched opposition who failed to scythe open a stubborn rearguard.
Both sides had opportunities to win the game – albeit fleeting – Emmanuel Adebayor forced a save from Julio Cesar after Jermain Defoe crashed an effort back off the upright.
Shaun Wright-Phillips meanwhile saw an effort deflected inches wide with the goal at his mercy – hardly a script for a thriller but adequate for a side battling against the drop.
Strikerless QPR frustrated and were faultless in their hard work, and the return of four points from fixtures against Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur will undoubtedly please Harry Redknapp.
Harry Redknapp made four changes from the side that drew at home with West Bromwich Albion. Tal Ben-Haim, Kieron Dyer, Esteban Granero and DJ Campbell dropping out with Fabio da Silva, Shaun Derry, Nedum Onuoha and Shaun Wright-Phillips coming in.
Julio Cesar started behind a defence of Onuoha, Clint Hill, Ryan Nelsen and Fabio. The midfield comprised of Stephane Mbia, Derry and Park Ji Sung with Jamie Mackie and Wright-Phillips playing up with Adel Taarabt – no recognised centre forward afforded in this formation.
Tottenham made seven changes following the comfortable win over Coventry City. Brad Friedel, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Steven Caulker, Clint Dempsey, Scott Parker, Tom Huddlestone and Gylfi Sigurdsson dropped out with Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Kyle Walker, Aaron Lennon, Moussa Dembele, Sandro and Jermain Defoe coming in.
Spurs started with Lloris behind a back four of Walker, Vertonghen, Michael Dawson and Kyle Naughton. The midfield quartet consisted of Lennon, Sandro, Dembele and Gareth Bale with Defoe partnering Emmanuel Adebayor in attack.
KICK OFF: QUEENS PARK RANGERS v TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
All the preamble to this match rather predictably surrounded Harry Redknapp facing his old club. The last time Harry took a Spurs side to Loftus Road he was put to the sword by the player he let go – Adel Taarabt.
Both clubs attempted to take summer strides with varying degrees of success – Tottenham rising to third, while QPR remained rock-bottom and looking for ex-Spurs boss Redknapp to lift their sprits and once again perform miracles.
Spurs had the best of the opening with Jermain Defoe dancing around some tentative challenges to fire a fine effort back off the left-hand upright. Only Emmanuel Adebayor will know how he conspired to miss the rebound.
The forward had the ball caught in his feet and eventually elicited an effort that was smartly fielded by Julio Cesar. In truth however, the Brazilian shouldn’t have been given the opportunity by a striker whose profligacy saw Spurs spurn an early chance.
While Tottenham were looking the brighter in the early stages, Rangers did have a chance to break the deadlock themselves, when Shaun Wright-Phillips latched to to a scything through ball, only to delay his shot and see it deflected wide of the left-hand post.
The battle between Stephane Mbia and Moussa Dembele made for compelling viewing at times, with the Frenchman not giving his visiting counterpart a moment’s rest in the middle of the park – thus stifling his creative input thus far.
Both sides traded blows with Adel Taarabt and Gareth Bale trying their luck speculatively from distance while Sandro was left in a heap and subsequently replaced by arguably a more efficient player in Scott Parker after 20 minutes.
Once again Rangers continued to frustrate their higher-placed opposition, whose solace was sought in long-range drives – both Kyle Walker and Michael Dawson tried their luck with little reward as Cesar’s goal was relatively untroubled barring the early scare.
Jamie Mackie earned his side a free-kick when Dembele was forced into fouling the all-action wide-man. The Belgian was cautioned for his foul but the resultant free-kick yielded little in terms of attacking riposte.
Parker tried his luck from distance to round off a half bereft of class and opportunity, putting an effort into the stands much to the chagrin of some of his team-mates. It was hardly awe inspiring, but a clean sheet intact for QPR going into the break.
HALF TIME: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0-0 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
The second half started in much the same way as the first with Spurs and Defoe particularly on the front-foot. Nelsen’s foul on his former colleague prompted a free-kick that Walker and Bale stood over with great intent.
Bale however elected to fire venomously goal-bound only to be denied by an outstretched Cesar hand. A wall that hardly provided that convincing barrier for QPR, with Bale surely better served to clip the ball into a relatively unguarded corner.
Parker was wayward once more for the buoyed visitors, who saw Defoe tantalise once more in his skilful runs across the area, finding Cesar a man inspired between the sticks to once again deny the fleet-footed front-man.
Another Walker corner caused trouble as his first had to be cleared in typically manful fashion with a diving header, before his second centre picked out Dawson who harmlessly glanced over Cesar’s bar.
Adebayor had a final chance to test Cesar with little substance before being replaced by Clint Dempsey. The Togo forward hardly received a good reception from the visiting fans who jeered their forward from the field.
Rangers made two chances against the run of play in close succession. First Fabio and Taarabt combined brilliantly for the latter to be caught in two minds and fire across the goal harmlessly.
Taarabt then created another chance moments later – he laid a nicely weighted ball for Wright-Phillips to chase after, and but for the alert Lloris an opportunity would have presented an opportunity for the wide-man.
Tottenham were looking a little laboured going forward and could only point to two wayward free-kicks as their opportunities as the game grew older. Gylfi Sigurdsson was thrown on in place of Aaron Lennon – who ambled off the pitch as if happy with the state of the fixture.
The closing chance of the clash fell to Shaun Wright-Phillips, who did impeccably well to keep the ball in play. His interplay with the hard-working Taarabt saw the wide-man burst in behind with great intent.
In typical Wright-Phillips fashion however, the luck was not with him. He cut inside and caught his foot in the ground. Some appealed for a penalty but others like Wright-Phillips just looked frustrated as the referee blew the final whistle.
Hardly vintage, but nevertheless a point from relatively nothing and four points from Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur will be considered a success. Clean sheets in both augurs well for the rest of the season as Harry looks to do the impossible.
FINAL WHISTLE: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0-0 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR