This weekend QPR take on fellow high-fliers Cardiff City in a table-topping clash which has had the players and the fans chomping at the bit with excitement. The match promises to be a fine advert for Championship with both teams boasting some fine footballing talent which will be displayed in front of a sold-out and hopefully rocking Loftus Road.
Dave Jones like Neil Warnock has managed to put together an impressive side this summer landing arguably the signing of the transfer window with the loan acquisition of Manchester City’s Craig Bellamy. Add to that the signings of Jason Koumas, Seyi Olofinjana and Andy Keogh, he has built on what was already a play-off standard squad and so far it has paid dividends for the Bluebirds who have been challenging the R’s for top-spot all season.
Rangers picked up a much needed victory over Preston last weekend with Neil Warnock giving Leon Clarke and Fitz Hall rare starts. Both suitably impressed giving the gaffer a slight selection headache for this Saturday with the return of Tommy Smith and Shaun Derry.
The match will be a good indication to where both sides are at but to call it a season defining match like some media outlets have been is somewhat excessive. Nevertheless since their meeting in the 2003 play off final this fixture has always been an atmospheric one to say the least.
QPR 3 (Hulse, Taarabt x2)
Preston 1 (Connolly OG)
Team: Kenny, Hill, Hall (Rowlands), Connolly, Gorkss, Walker, Taarabt, Faurlin, Clarke, Mackie (Andrade), Hulse (Agyemang)
Cardiff City 0
Nottingham Forest 2 (McGugan, Blackstock)
Team: Heaton, Gyepes, McNaughton, Hudson, Koumas, Whittingham, Olofinjana, Blake (Matthews), Bellamy, Chopra (Drinkwater), Bothroyd
QPR Team News:
Neil Warnock is able to pick from a virtually fully fit squad this weekend with Bradley Orr (Suspension), Shaun Derry (Suspension) and Tommy Smith (Ineligible) all returning to action.
Heider Helguson should be on the bench alongside Martin Rowlands. Leon Clarke and Fitz Hall will be pushing for starts after their inclusion in last week`s victory over Preston.
Akos Buzsaky returned to training this week but is not yet fit to play whilst Lee Cook and Peter Ramage remain long term absentees.
Possible line up:
Walker – Connolly – Gorkss – Hill
Faurlín – Derry
Mackie – Taarabt (c) – Smith
Player to watch: Adel Taarabt
Adel Taarabt started the season in tremendous form but struggled to maintain a level of consistency and following an abject performance against Bristol City and a word in the ear from Neil Warnock, the maverick midfielder has been nothing short of sensational. With eight goals to his name he is the R`s joint top goal scorer and several of those have been fantastic strikes.
Taarabt has shown signs of becoming a more mature footballer in recent months especially after taking on the captaincy the R`s talisman has developed a better work ethic and improved attitude which has seen him help out defensively as well has contributing with goals and assists.
The attacking midfielder signed for Tottenham Hotspur in 2007 after a successful loan spell from French side Lens. Spurs paid around £3 million for him and big things were expected but after lack of first team appearances he has since had two successful loan spells at QPR. This summer saw Adel Taarabt sign permanently for QPR for a figure believed to be in the region of £1 million.
Cardiff City Team News:
Cardiff could be without Lee Naylor, the full-back missed last weekend`s game against Nottingham Forest with a groin injury.
Winger Chris Burke is also a doubt with a thigh strain which could mean an extended run in the side for on loan winger Jason Koumas.
Matthews – Hudson – Gyepes – McNaughton
Whittingham – Olofinjana – Koumas
Bellamy – Bothroyd – Chopra
Player to watch: Jay Bothroyd
Jay Bothroyd has been identified by DanielQPR as the player to watch ahead of this weekend’s match against Cardiff City
For Daniel’s comprehensive review of the midfielder Click Here >>>
The Stat Attack
Queens Park Rangers: DWDDW
Cardiff City: WLDWL
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 31
Cardiff City: 25
LAST TIME OUT
Coca Cola Championship – 17/04/10
Cardiff City 1 (Ledley)
Team: Cerny, Leigertwood, Ramage, Tosic, Gorkss, Buzsaky, Ephraim (Parker), Priskin, Taarabt, Faurlin, Simpson (Cook)
Referee: Mr K Friend
Assistants: Mr R Pollock & Mr W Smallwood
Fourth Official: Mr G Hegley
Kevin Friend is the match official for Saturday’s game and has officiated 11 games this season. His most recent game was the 0-0 draw between West Ham United and Blackpool.
Last season Friend issued 133 yellow cards and 7 red cards in 34 games.
To read more see: Ref Watch >>>
It is possible that after all the media hype the match could be a complete disappointment and end 0-0. Not a bad result for either side but honestly with the wealth attacking talent on show I highly doubt the match will end goalless. It will be interesting to see what side Dave Jones puts out, will he sacrifice a striker for a more solid midfield especially after their loss to Nottingham Forest? Or will he accommodate Bellamy, Chopra, Bothroyd, Burke, Whittingham and Koumas and go all out for the win?
I think Cardiff will start on the front foot testing the resolve of the Rangers backline, luckily QPR are very dangerous on the counter attack and I feel if we can score on the counter it will knock the confidence out of Cardiff`s play to which the R`s should then build and consolidate.
I`d settle for a draw but given the fact we are at home I`ve got to say we should go for the win and take the game to Cardiff and show them what we`re all about. I think their defence is the Achilles heel of what is an impressive looking side and if Dave Jones does accommodate the majority his of attacking prospects then Adel Taarabt should have a similar amount of freedom to that of which he enjoyed in the second half against Preston. If he reproduces those moments of magic then it`s game set and match for Rangers.
Who: Hull City
Where: KC Stadium
When: 04/12/10 – 15.00