At half-time on the final day of the season, QPR were effectively relegated. Had scores that day stayed the same then today QPR would be bracing themselves for life back in the doldrums of the Championship. However, thanks to the determination of Peter Crouch and two goals from Jon Walters, QPR survived at the expense of Bolton. Things could`ve been so different for the R`s. Instead, they continue to progress at a pace only Usain Bolt could match. A pre-season tour of Asia and Germany, a QPR themed plane in tribute of the late Alan McDonald and an influx of quality players all of whom have played in the Premier League seem light years away from last year`s trip to Cornwall and the boardroom shenanigans that were better suited to a comedy sketch rather than a professional football club. Under Tony Fernandes` stewardship the club is starting to look like the real deal, a well equipped and well prepared top-flight outfit ready to do battle in what will be another thrilling season.
Mark Hughes moved quickly this transfer window securing no fewer than seven players. Rob Green, Ryan Nelsen, Andrew Johnson, Samba Diakite, Park Ji-Sung, Fabio Da Silva, Junior Hoilett have all signed up for the R`s and with talk of Jose Bosingwa and Stephane Mbia about to join, the squad is looking very strong in comparison to last year. However, last season, QPR signed many players and they failed to gel, ultimately ending Neil Warnock`s tenure as manager. It is imperative Mark Hughes finds the right balance quickly otherwise it might be a disjointed few months before QPR climb up the league. Expectations will be greater this season but I`m sure the players and coaching staff will thrive on this. Personally, I`d be happy with a comfortable position akin to Norwich or Swansea last season and I feel this is certainly achievable with the current squad.
Last League Fixture & Season Predictions
Manchester City 3 (Zabaleta, Dzeko, Aguero)
QPR 2 (Cisse, Mackie)
Team: Kenny, Onuoha, Hill, Ferdinand, Taiwo, Wright-Phillips, Derry, Barton (Sent Off), Mackie, Zamora (Bothroyd), Cisse (Traore).
Swansea 1 (Graham)
Team: Vorm, Rangel, Taylor, Williams, Caulker, Britton, Sinclair, Dyer (Routledge), Allen, Sigurdsson (Gower), Graham.
Top 4: Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal
Bottom 3: Wigan, West Brom, Reading
QPR Team News:
Samba Diakite faces a late fitness test tomorrow. Diakite has a slight knock on knee which could keep him out of tomorrow`s game. Bobby Zamora and Armand Traore are also doubts with knee and ankle injuries respectively. Park Ji-Sung, Ryan Nelsen, Fabio, Rob Green and Junior Hoilett are set for their debuts.
Possible line up:
Onuoha – Nelsen – Ferdinand – Fabio
Mackie – Park – Derry – Taarabt
Player to watch: Park Ji-Sung
Having signed from Manchester United for £2 million, Park Ji-Sung will be central to QPR`s progression this season. The former United favourite will bring a wealth of experience to the side and his versatility will be an added bonus for Mark Hughes. Park Ji-Sung`s energy and work-rate will no doubt make him a crowd favourite at Loftus Road. It is rumoured that the South Korean international is one of the candidates for club captain.
Swansea Team News:
Swansea could hand debuts to Chico Flores, Jonathan De Guzman and Kyle Bartley. Doubts remain over the future of Scott Sinclair who rejected the Swans latest contract offer and could be left out.
Rangel – Williams – Bartley – Taylor
Britton – Michu – de Guzman
Dyer – Graham – Sinclair
Player to watch: Ashley Williams
Ashley Williams has been identified by Boxer as the player to watch ahead of Saturday`s match against Swansea City.
For Boxer’s comprehensive review of the defenderClick Here >>>
The Stat Attack
Queens Park Rangers: WWWWD
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 18
Swansea : 10
LAST TIME OUT
Premier League – 11/04/12
QPR 3 (Barton, Mackie, Buzsaky)
Team: Kenny, Onuoha, Taiwo, Hill, Ferdinand, Diakite, Taarabt (Smith), Buzsaky, Barton, Mackie (Wright-Phillips), Zamora (Bothroyd).
Referee: L Probert
Assistants: D Bryan & R Ganfield
Fourth Official: G Scott
Lee Probert is the match official for Saturday`s game. Last season Probert issued 110 yellow cards and 9 red cards in 38 games.
QPR have a very decent record against Swansea in recent years. In fact, QPR are unbeaten in their last five matches. Memories of Adel Taarabt and Jamie Mackie jump to the forefront of my mind whenever I think about playing the men from Wales. Last season, Swansea were very much the surprise package. They played fluid and controlled football and caused many upsets along the way. It`s admirable the way the club have conducted their business on and off the pitch this summer and I can`t see them struggling this year as Michael Laudrup will implement a similar style of football to Brendan Rodgers. However, they may need a plan B as they did fade towards to the end of the campaign. They`ve also bought well which is vital as they`ve lost key players in Joe Allen and Gylfi Sigurdsson. Swansea will prove to be a stern test tomorrow.
If QPR play to their strengths and get Adel Taarabt and Junior Hoilett on the ball then they will create plenty of chances for the Djibril Cisse, who is one of the most natural finishers in the league. I have my concerns about our defence and worry slightly at the lack of quality at centre half. I`m not overly impressed by Nedum Onuoha and I do hope we sign a strong centre half before the end of the window. Ryan Nelsen and Clint Hill are similar in both age and style but will not play every game so extra cover is needed. Rob Green has looked shaky in pre-season but I think after a few games he will settle and show his true form.
2-1 Home win. Taarabt and Cisse to score.