RANGERS FA Cup curse once again falls under the spotlight as they host Burnley tomorrow, a side which have had great fortune in the cup this season.
The R`s have failed to pick up a win in the world famous domestic cup competition in eight attempts. In a run spanning since 2001 Rangers have been defeated by Arsenal, Swansea City and Vauxhall Motors along with Grimsby Town, Nottingham Forest, Blackburn Rovers, Luton Town and most recently Chelsea.
Burnley`s recent cup exploits have been well documented as Owen Coyle`s men continue to confound the critics in the Carling Cap. Victories against Fulham and Arsenal at home, sandwiched an excellent result on the road at Chelsea making Burnley a tough prospect in both league and cup this season.
Coyle has invigorated Turf Moor since his arrival in November last year as he transformed Burnley from long-ball merchants into a free-flowing football team. With summer signings Chris Eagles and Martin Paterson introducing a touch of flair to an already improving Clarets outfit.
With the last couple of meetings between the two sides in W12 settled by Burnley`s battling spirit, Rangers have it all to prove as they once again face their cup demons.
R`s boss Paulo Sousa couldn`t hide his excitement as he faces his first test in the FA Cup, a competition which he holds in high regard.
He said: ‘Saturday marks the start of our FA Cup adventure and I am very excited about managing QPR in the most famous Cup competition in World football.
‘I grew up watching the Cup back home in Portugal and I know a lot about the history of the competition and the fond place it holds in the hearts of English football fans.
‘Some of the most iconic images in football history stem from the FA Cup and I am really excited about the prospect of participating in the competition.’
It is the first time that Sousa faces the Clarets, and he believes they will provide a test for the R`s.
He said: ‘Burnley will provide another very stern test for us, but I have great confidence in my group of players.
‘I am glad we are at home, because our record at Loftus Road is very positive and we are enjoying a good unbeaten run here.
‘We will prepare like we do for every fixture and the focus remains on winning the match, and on this occasion, advancing to the next round.’
Burnley boss Owen Coyle will be looking for his third successive win in W12 after winning most recently only seven weeks ago. He believes that Rangers would themselves have liked to avoid the Clarets.
He said: ‘QPR are probably the same, they would have loved to have been playing a team from another division, whether it was higher or lower, because there is a freshness about it, rather than another Championship side.
‘We’ve been there on a few occasions and we’ll go there again, looking to be positive.
“It’s going to be a difficult game, they are a quality side.’
On Rangers boss Paulo Sousa, Coyle believes that if he can transfer his quality in playing into management he will be a big success.
He said: ‘Paulo has come in and made an impression.
‘He’s a very nice man.
‘I met him a few months ago at Gleneagles when we were both on a coaching thing.
‘He won the Champions League twice, back-to-back, so that shows you what a good player he was, and I’m sure he’ll look to transfer that into management.
‘It will be tough, but we’re looking forward to it.
‘Home or away we go and try and win, and that’s what we’ll look to do.’
Queens Park Rangers Team News:
Paulo Sousa has shown over the Christmas period that he is not afraid to rotate his line-up for the benefit of the squad if not necessarily the performance as a whole.
Rangers welcome back Lee Camp to the squad following the completion of his loan spell at Nottingham Forest, and depending on Sousa`s stance he may provide competition for Radek Cerny.
Kaspars Gorkss could be set to come back to the starting line-up alongside Damion Stewart, as they have proved themselves the most formidable partnership in recent weeks. While Matthew Connolly should start at left back at the expense of Damien Delaney. Zesh Rehman isn`t expected to be involved following his spell at Blackpool.
The midfield quartet will see Gavin Mahon sit at the base of the diamond, with Lee Cook roaming the point. Martin Rowlands, Hogan Ephraim, Matteo Alberti and Mikele Leigertwood will vie for the remaining two places in the middle.
Rangers compliment of strikers will prove that four into two doesn`t go as Sousa will have to pick from Patrick Agyemang, Heidar Helguson, Dexter Blackstock and Samuel Di Carmine.
Player to watch: Patrick Agyemang
Patrick Agyemang was Man of the Match for his competent performance against Watford. In a performance lacking drive and enthusiasm, Agyemang was a driving force for QPR, but still cannot bag that illusive goal that has evaded him of late.
A confidence player, Agyemang has bagged only one goal in 20 appearances but his effort and commitment have never waned during this baron spell.
The Walthamstow born forward qualifies to play international football for Ghana, and has a wealth of experience at Championship level, playing for Preston North End, Gillingham and Wimbledon in the second tier.
The live-wire forward has a vast array of tricks in his repertoire combined with some clever movement that confounds the reputations that the critics have built up over the years.
Burnley Team News:
Burnley will be without defensive duo Stephen Jordan and Steven Caldwell owing to suspension. This is the second time this season that Caldwell has missed the trip to W12, having been sent off at Chelsea in their glorious cup triumph.
The Clarets defence will have to reshuffle with the loss of the two defenders, as Graham Alexander is set to slot in at full back with Michael Duff slotting in alongside for R`s stalwart Clarke Carlisle.
Wade Elliott and Chris Eagles will provide the majority of threat from the flanks with industrious midfielders such as Joey Gudjonsson, Chris McCann, Kevin McDonald and Alan Mahon vying for the remaining places.
Burnley have a multitude of viable options in the striker`s role including Scotsman Steven Thompson, Robbie Blake and Martin Paterson – all potential match winners on their day.
Player to watch: Martin Paterson
Vital QPR has singled out diminutive striker Martin Paterson as the One to Watch ahead of tomorrow`s cup clash with Burnley.
To view all the stats on the one to watch Click Here >>>.
Match Facts & Stats
QPR: Last 5 Games: L D W D D
Watford: Last 5 Games: D W W L L
Rangers are now undefeated in four games following the goalless draw with Watford. The R`s are undefeated at Loftus Road since the visit of Burnley in November, winning three and drawing one in W12. Sousa`s men now face a Clarets side who have come from behind twice in succession to win.
Christmas cheer has subsided for Owen Coyle`s men who have lost two games back to back over the festive period. Defeats at home to Barsnley and away to Doncaster has scuppered the Clarets promotion charge, but they still lie in fifth place, poised for a push in 2009.
HEAD 2 HEAD
Last time out
Saturday 15th November 2008 – Loftus Road
Coca Cola Championship
QPR 1 (Dexter Blackstock 14)
Burnley 2 (Robbie Blake 34, Alan Mahon 60)
Rangers Team: Radek Cerny, Peter Ramage, Damion Stewart, Fitz Hall, Matthew Connolly (Damien Delaney 46), Hogan Ephraim (Patrick Agyemang 63), Martin Rowlands, Damiano Tommasi (Gavin Mahon 53), Lee Cook, Dexter Blackstock, Samuel Di Carmine.
See also: One Day In History – Burnley 1982-83.
See also: One Day In History – Burnley 1979-80.
See also: Match Report – QPR 1-2 Burnley.
Referee– Mr A Bates
Assistants – Mr G R Young & Mr C J Francis
Fourth official – Mr J Farries
Mr Anthony Bates from Staffordshire will officiate the R`s FA Cup clash with Burnley.
To get all the stats concerning the official Click Here >>>.
Goals doesn`t seem to be an issue at the moment, however the R`s could be hitting the target more, a number of chances missed against Charlton proved to be crucial with some poor goalkeeping at the heart of the Rangers woe. Watford shouldn`t provide as sterner test as Charlton, who seem to be in a false position; Which is why I predict:
Boxer`s Prediction: 1-0 Rangers
Who– Coventry City
Where– Loftus Road
When– Saturday 10th January 2009 -3:00pm