This Saturday not only marks the return of the new Premier League season but the return of Queens Park Rangers. After fifteen years outside the top flight, the R`s are back in the big time and ready to grace the league with their famous blue and white hoops. Neil Warnock will also be relishing the chance to prove his worth, after his Sheffield United side were relegated on the last day of the 2007/08 season.
QPR haven`t spent much this summer but have acquired some useful freebies. Jay Bothroyd and Kieron Dyer are both technically astute footballers and Danny Gabbidon, providing he stays fit, has plenty of Premiership experience. Last week, the R`s signed Blackpool striker DJ Campbell for £1.25 million. If Campbell can reproduce his 13 goal tally of last season, then Warnock would`ve pulled off another transfer masterstroke. Hopefully, Neil can add a few more quality players before the window shuts, because the squad does look slightly one-paced.
Saturday`s opponents Bolton have been a well established Premiership side for a decade. Like QPR, Bolton suffered a 15 year absence from the top flight but endured relegation in 1997-98. Under Sam Allardyce, Bolton regained their Premier League status in 2000/01 and have maintained it ever since, even after Big Sam`s departure in 2007. If the R`s can replicate Bolton in terms of stability then they are on the right track. Under Owen Coyle, Bolton have ditched the long-ball tag that has haunted them for many years and have embraced an expansive brand of football that is much more attractive.
This summer, Bolton have been desperately unlucky with injuries. Star midfielder Chung-Yong Lee is likely to miss the majority of the 2011/12 season after breaking his leg in a pre-season friendly. Tyrone Mears also suffered a similar misfortune by breaking his leg in a training session and with several other first team players injured, Coyle will be hoping to add to his threadbare side before the window closes.
Luton 3 (Barnes-Homer, Morgan-Smith, Watkins)
QPR 1 (Campbell)
Team: Kenny (Cerny), Dyer (Doughty), Hill (Andrade), Derry (Ephraim), Hall (Orr), Gabbidon (Trialist), Taarabt (Vaagan-Moen), Smith (Connolly), Campbell (Helguson) (Hewitt), Bothroyd (Agyemang), Faurlin (Buzsaky)
Levante 1 (Iborra)
Team: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson (Riley 76), Cahill, Knight (Wheater 65), Robinson, Petrov, Reo-Coker (Muamba 65), Pratley (Mark Davies 65), Eagles (Alonso 65), Kevin Davies, Klasnic (Blake 76)
QPR Team News:
Rob Hulse is out with a knee injury and Jamie Mackie is unavailable as he continues his rehabilitation from a broken leg. Apart from the injured pair, Neil Warnock has a fully fit squad to choose from for the visit of Bolton on Saturday.
Warnock could hand debuts to new signings Jay Bothroyd, DJ Campbell, Danny Gabbidon and Kieron Dyer.
Possible line up:
Dyer – Hall – Gabbidon – Hill
Faurlin – Derry
Campbell- Taarabt – Smith
Player to watch: Adel Taarabt
QPR were boosted by the news that their talisman Adel Taarabt is set to stay this transfer window after months of speculation over a move to PSG. In my opinion, Taarabt staying feels like a new signing in the sense that it would`ve been virtually impossible to replace a player of that quality and invention with the financial restrictions that Neil Warnock has had to adhere to.
This season, Taarabt will either be an enormous success or a ghastly flop. I don`t see a middle ground. Personally I think he will set the league alight with his flair and audacity. Adel is by no means the finished article and will need to improve on his decision making and temperament. If he can hone those facets of his game, then he will be as good as any player in the Premier League.
Bolton Team News:
Owen Coyle could give a debut to new signing Chris Eagles who signed from Burnley this summer. The Bolton boss needs to fill the void left by the injured Chung-Yong Lee and Eagles could be handed the task of replacing the Korean.
Bolton are without new signing Tyrone Mears who also unfortunately broke his leg in pre-season. Midfielder Sean Davis is out and continues his rehabilitation work from a long-standing knee injury.
Stuart Holden remains sidelined with a knee injury suffered last season against Manchester United. Sam Ricketts is out with an Achilles problem. Ricardo Gardener is also a doubt.
Steinsson – Cahill – Knight – Robinson
Eagles – Muamba – Pratley – Petrov
Davies – Klasnic
Player to watch: Kevin Davies
Bolton centre forward Kevin Davies has been outlined by danielqpr as the One to Watch ahead of Saturday’s game.
To read his comprehensive review of the strikerClick Here >>>
Match Facts & Stats
Queens Park Rangers: WLWWL
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 12
LAST TIME OUT
Football League Division One – 03/02/01
QPR 1 (Ngonge)
Bolton 1 (Frandsen)
Team: Miklosko, Darlington, Rose, Baraclough, Morrow, Wardley, Peacock, Kulcsar, Crouch (Dowie), Connolly, Ngonge
Referee: Mr M Atkinson
Assistants: Mr S Burt & Mr P Kirkup
Martin Atkinson is the match official for Saturday`s game. Last season Atkinson issued 143 yellow cards and 13 red cards in 41 games.
To read more see: Ref Watch >>>
Neil Warnock will set his QPR side up to attack teams at Loftus Road this season. The intimidating nature of the ground can work wonders in destroying the opposition`s confidence and the R`s will need any advantage they can get if they are to survive. Saturday represents a fine opportunity for Rangers to make their mark on the league. Bolton are by no means a poor side but they are certainly one of the more winnable games when compared to Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City. Apart from Martin Petrov and Chris Eagles, they aren`t the fastest side on paper which will suit the Rangers defence who are also fairly lethargic.
Season openers are always hard to predict and newly promoted sides tend to surprise a few people early on, ala Wigan v Blackpool last season. I believe Rangers stand a good chance of staying up but they will need to hit the ground running to gather momentum and confidence. A win against Bolton would be a dream start but I wouldn`t discount a draw. Neil Warnock will have a battle plan this season. One that I feel will be a blend of Ian Holloway`s Blackpool and Tony Pulis` Stoke City, which incidentally could be a lot like Owen Coyle`s Bolton – a side that like to play the right way but can mix it up when they need to. Ultimately, I expect a tight but entertaining game on Saturday as I believe both sides cancel each other out in a lot of areas.
2-1 Debut brace from DJ Campbell.
When:20/08/11 – 15:00