The BBC television cameras make the short trip down to Loftus Road on Friday night where QPR play host to Watford. The R’s will be looking to continue their unbeaten run and extend their lead at the top whereas Watford will hope last weekend’s victory over in-form Leicester will be the turning point after their recent slump.
The R’s could equal the club record by going twenty games unbeaten, set twice in 1967 and 1972 but standing in the way of this extraordinary feat is Malky Mackay’s Watford and of course the weather. Here’s hoping tomorrow night is not a repeat of last year’s televised fixture where the R’s season took an horrendous turn for the worst after losing 3-1 to the Hornets.
Neil Warnock’s men are well rested after last week’s fixture against Hull City was postponed owing to the snow and with no fresh injury concerns the R’s gaffer has many options ahead of this match. He could recall former Watford favourite Heider Helguson but it is unlikely Rob Hulse will be dropped after his excellent performance against Cardiff City.
In the summer Watford were tipped by most pundits as one of the favourites for the drop but to Malky Mackay’s credit he has gone about his business quietly motivating a largely inexperienced squad to perform at a higher level than expected. The Hornets have picked up some fine results, notably the 6-1 demolition of Millwall and the recent victory against Leicester which demonstrated good character. Watford overcame the mental hurdle of conceding a two-goal lead only to then snatch a win courtesy of Danny Graham.
QPR 3 (Gorkss, Taarabt)
Cardiff City 1 (Bellamy)
Team: Kenny, Hill, Connolly, Gorkss, Walker, Derry, Mackie (Hall), Faurlin, Smith (Agyemang), Taarabt (Clarke), Hulse
Watford 3 (Eustace, Buckley, Graham)
Leicester City 2 (Gallagher x2)
Team: Loach, Doyley, Taylor, Taylor, Mariappa, Eustace, McGinn (Sordell) (Massey), Cowie, Mutch, Buckley (Deeney), Graham
QPR Team News:
With no fresh injury concerns Neil Warnock is expected to name an unchanged side. The R’s are still without Lee Cook and Peter Ramage and whether or not Akos Buzsaky is ready for a place on the bench remains to be seen.
Possible line up:
Walker – Connolly – Gorkss – Hill
Faurlín – Derry
Mackie – Taarabt (c) – Smith
Player to watch: Rob Hulse
The powerful centre forward is starting to grow into his role as the target man and with each game that passes Rob Hulse is looking every bit the experienced Championship forward Rangers had hoped for. He had arguably his best game in a Rangers shirt against Cardiff City and led the line tremendously well, his hold up play was superb and he provided the crucial out ball when the defence was under pressure. Obviously Hulse will be looking to add more goals to his name but at the moment his overall contribution to the team has been first class.
Hulse started his career at Crewe Alexandra. He made 116 appearances for The Railwaymen scoring 45 goals. After impressing for Crewe, Hulse’s reputation grew and in 2003 he signed for West Brom for a fee of £750,000. He made 35 appearances for the Baggies and scored 10 goals. He also played a key role in their promotion to the Premier League but struggled to hold down a first team place once in the top flight.
Hulse moved to Leeds initially on loan and after a successful loan spell where he scored six in 13 he signed for £1.1 million. The striker scored went on to score 12 in 39 before joining Neil Warnock’s Sheffield United in the summer of 2006 for a reported fee of £2.2 million. Hulse made 53 appearances scoring eight times but his time at United was marred by the horrific injury sustained in a clash with Petr Cech against Chelsea. He joined Derby in 2008 and went on to appear 96 times and scored 30 goals.
Watford Team News:
Malky Mackay also has no fresh injury concerns ahead of the match. He is able to welcome back young midfielder Michael Bryan who has overcome a recent ankle injury.
The Hornets boss could opt for a 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation with Danny Graham spearheading the attack and experienced Midfielder John Eustace anchoring the midfield.
Hodson- Mariappa- Taylor – Doyley
McGinn- Eustace- Cowie
Buckley – Graham – Sordell
Player to watch: Danny Graham
Danny Graham has been identified by DanielQPR as the player to watch ahead of this Friday’s match against Watford
For Daniel’s comprehensive review of the striker Click Here >>>
The Stat Attack
Queens Park Rangers: WDDWW
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 47
LAST TIME OUT
Coca Cola Championship – 20/04/10
QPR 1 (Buzsaky pen)
Team: Cerny, Ramage, Tosic, Gorkss, Leigertwood, Buzsaky (Oastler), Ephraim, Taarabt (Cook), Faurlin, Vine, German (Simpson)
Referee: Mr D Deadman
Assistants: Mr J Magil & Mr D Maretts
Fourth Official: Mr F Graham
Darren Deadman is the match official for Fridays’s game against Watford and has officiated 9 games this season. His most recent game was the 1-1 draw between 2nd place Cardiff City and Preston North End.
Last season Deadman issued 94 yellow cards and six red cards in 37 games.
To read more see: Ref Watch >>>
As with any team in this division Watford represent a stern challenge. Last year they were the proverbial banana skin that caused untold amounts of problems; Magilton’s sacking, loss in team spirit/confidence and a poor run of form that sucked the R’s into a relegation battle. If the R’s were to lose I cannot foresee it having the same impact as before, Warnock is too good a man-manager for that to happen.
The match itself should provide the spectators with plenty of goals. Watford aren’t great defensively but they are good at chipping with their fair share of goals. Mackay’s men have hit the back of the net 35 times so far – the same as QPR. The R’s defence will get tested by the pace of Marvin Sordell and the trickery of Will Buckley and although Danny Graham is a solid player at this level, the R’s centre backs Matthew Connolly and Kaspars Gorkss have faced better target men in Jay Bothroyd and Chris Iwelumo so they should be able to handle Graham providing they are fully focused.
I think QPR will outclass an inconsistent Watford side, Rangers’ defensive steel proving the difference. Taraabt and Smith to score for the R’s.
Who: LEEDS UNITED
Where: ELLAND ROAD
When: 18/12/10 – 15.00