Here it is, the match that has been dubbed ”El Sackico”. QPR and Southampton meet in what has been described as a do or die match, that could potentially leave either Mark Hughes or Nigel Adkins without a job come Monday morning. It’s fair to suggest that Mark Hughes is under severe pressure after failing to beat either Reading or Stoke in recent weeks. He needs his team to pull through for him or he could be without a job (if you believe the papers). I really hope the team get the three points and we can start to get out of this mess.
It’s hard to fault Tony Fernandes for the situation we’re in at the moment. He has been a generous chairman, backing Mark Hughes in the transfer market and has remained loyal and supportive, despite the ever-growing section of fans becoming disenchanted with Hughes’ disastrous start. But now, even Fernandes must be feeling the strain from his fellow board members, who might be looking at the bigger picture, realising the potential financial loss and feel a change of manager is necessary.
Nigel Adkins is also under pressure but due to his performance in previous seasons as Southampton manager, it’s hard to imagine that he will face the sack should Southampton lose. However, Adkins has made some monumental errors this year. Failing to sort out a very leaky defence and leaving Ricky Lambert on the bench on several occasions must be worrying for Saint’s fans because it has cost them. Southampton are an attractive team to watch but they have a soft underbelly and are a very beatable side right now. They will pose an aerial threat from set-pieces with the likes of Ricky Lambert and Jose Fonte particularly impressive in the air. They also possess skilful and creative players in Adam Lallana, Gaston Ramirez and Steven Davis. So the danger is clearly there for the R’s. In terms of how the match might pan out, I expect defensive errors aplenty tomorrow and a high scoring game.
Stoke 1 (Adam)
Team: Cesar, Traore (Onuoha), Ferdinand, Nelsen, Bosingwa, Diakite, Faurlin (Zamora), Taarabt, Granero, Cisse, Hoilett.
Southampton 1 (Schneiderlin)
Swansea 1 (Dyer)
Team: Gazzaniga, Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw (Fox), Schneiderlin, Ramirez, Cork, Lallana, Puncheon, Lambert.
QPR Team News:
Fabio could return this weekend after a two-month absence with a hamstring problem. Ryan Nelsen and Kieron Dyer could be available for selection but captain Park Ji-sung is out.
Possible line up:
Bosingwa – Nelsen – Ferdinand – Traore
Taarabt – Faurlin – Diakite – Granero -Hoilett
Player to watch: Adel Taarabt
Adel appears to be lacking confidence in front of goal again, which was a similar sight last season. It seems Taarabt needs to go back to basics with his finishing. His audacious chip against Stoke that went horribly wrong is indicative that Taarabt is trying too hard to score the perfect goal. However, on a positive note, his overall play has been much improved. You could make a case for Taarabt being our best player this season. Since his return to the side, Taarabt has shown heart, passion and determination, which has added that extra dimension to his already impressive game. If we go out all attack against Southampton, their defence will not be able to handle the likes of Taarabt and I could see him scoring and having a helping hand in any goals that we might score.
Southampton Team News:
Frazer Richardson and Richard Chaplow are out. Guly do Prado could feature.
Possible line up:
Clyne -Yoshida – Fonte – Shaw
Lallana – Cork – Davis – Ramirez
Rodriguez – Lambert
Player to watch: TBA
The Stat Attack
Queens Park Rangers: LDLDL
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 26
LAST TIME OUT
Championship – 14/03/09
St Mary’s Stadium
Team: Cerny, Ramage, Stewart, Connolly, Gorkss, Ephraim (Taarabt), Miller (German), Routledge, Lopez (Mahon), Leigertwood, Blackstock
Referee: M Dean
Assistants: J Collin & J Brooks
Fourth Official: L Mason
Mike Dean is the match official for tomorrow’s game. Last season Dean issued 146 yellow cards and 5 red cards in 43 games.
Hughes has to be positive tomorrow because Southampton will be that’s for sure. In the past, Hughes has capitalised on away teams and their sense opportunism when playing at Loftus Road. Last season, the likes of Swansea, Spurs and Arsenal were all subject to a perfectly executed counter attacking game plan that helped the R’s avoid relegation. It could well be, that Hughes packs the midfield, stays compact defensively and hits the Saints on the break with the pace of Hoilett, Cisse and Diakite. Whether that will happen is anybody’s guess. You could also make the argument, that we need to put Southampton on the back foot and really test their fragile defence. Against Reading, in the second half, we did this and looked a far superior side at times. I really don’t know how Hughes will approach it and to be honest that is part of the problem at QPR. There is no identity to our play, no real belief in the attack or any belief in the defence. We’re average to poor at both and are where we are in the league because of this.
I would like to see a positive performance but to be honest all I want is a win. I don’t care how it comes but it has to come tomorrow.
Who: Man Utd
Where: Old Trafford