HOT off the heels of an excellent performance away to promotion chasing Cardiff City, Rangers will look to continue their improving away form as they take on Barnsley at Oakwell.
The R`s are undefeated in six on their travels, this of course is in stark contrast to their 2008 away form where they only managed two wins away from W12 in the calendar year.
A second half performance against the Bluebirds will go down as a big improvement following a home debacle against Ipswich Town live on Sky, where heckles and boos turned to adulation and cheer after the R`s claimed a valuable point.
A delight in particular was the return to form of winger Lee Cook who provided an endless amount of creativity on the left flank, ably accompanied by the return to form of Damien Delaney. This was supplemented by a masterful performance by skipper Gavin Mahon at the heart of midfield to really put the boo boys in their place.
They travel to Oakwell to face a Barnsley side in the midst of a defensive crisis with Stephen Foster and Darren Moore missing for the weekend`s clash, leaving Denis Souza the only recognised central defender in their line-up.
After an horrendous January the Tykes picked up with a priceless away win to local rivals Sheffield Wednesday, but nevertheless seek their first home win of 2009. Losing every game in all competitions in January stunted the progress of Simon Davey`s men as they scored one goal and conceded 12.
Additions in January included a trio of deadline day loan deals with Andranik Teymourian, Adam Hammill and Michael Mifsud all joining on a temporary basis. This added to the permanent deals of Hugo Colace and Daniel Bogdanovic as the Tykes look to steer themselves away from the danger of another relegation dogfight.
View From The Bench
Rangers boss Paulo Sousa told QPR.co.uk of his pride in Rangers` performance against Cardiff City, believing it was two points dropped at Ninian Park.
He said: ‘We lost two points today. We showed a lot of personality and character and created a lot of opportunities, playing fantastic football,
‘After the game against Ipswich we received a lot of criticism. We didn’t play well then, but today we sent out a very positive message to those people, with a good performance against a Club with big ambitions for the Premier League.
‘They have invested a lot and this is also a very difficult place to come, with a strong atmosphere. But we showed personality, playing fantastic football.
‘We could have won the game easily, but it didn’t happen, but that is no fault of my players, who gave me excellent effort.’
While Barnsley midfielder Hugo Colace told barnsleyfc.co.uk of the importance of a winning their home games and taking a good run of form into March.
He said: ‘It is important and we need a win on Saturday. We have worked very hard in training and are looking good.
‘Games like Charlton happen in football. We did not play well but we needed points. We have four from six and that is ok but we need more. We now have to go out and get more but not to lose against Charlton was ok.
‘We need to make sure we pick up a lot of points in the next month. We have been training hard to get off to a good start. We have to win our home matches and that is always important. Confidence is very high. The new players have been very positive and good for the club.’
Boss Simon Davey told the Barnsley official site that he believes that Rangers are an inconsistent side and the Tykes should be looking to take advantage.
He said: ‘We have a lot of difficult games coming up starting with QPR this weekend. QPR are a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde team this season and were beaten by Ipswich but then managed to get a good point at Cardiff. They have a fantastic squad but are capable of a bad result now and again.
‘We know what to expect from them. They have experience, flair, height, strength and power but are inconsistent and that is why they, like many teams, are not at the top of the league. They have done a lot of travelling this week and we have to play at a high tempo and get right at them from the first whistle.’
Barnsley Team News:
Who R Ya?.
The Tykes are in trouble defensively as they host QPR with suspensions and injury ravaging the Barnsley rearguard and leaving them over exposed at the back. With Darren Moore suspended and Stephen Foster rated doubtful, Dennis Souza is the only recognised fit central defender in the squad.
Foster has a build up of fluid in his groin known as a seroma following surgery last month and he will remain doubtful for the R`s clash with Bobby Hassell the favourite the take his place at the centre of defence.
More bad news for the Tykes moving into the midfield with Diego Leon and Jamal Campbell-Ryce missing through injury and suspension respectively. The former Real Madrid man, Leon, is still recovering from a hamstring complaint with Campbell-Ryce, like Moore, suspended for five bookings.
Martin Devaney and Liverpool loanee Adam Hammill will do battle to replace the Jamaican international on the flank, while Hugo Colace and Andranik Teymourian retain their places in the side. Long-term abstentee Michael Coulson remains sidelined for the Tykes with a knee injury.
Jon Macken, Daniel Bogdanovic and Michael Mifsud will prove that three doesn`t fit in to two with the Maltese pairing getting the nod in recent weeks over Macken the former Manchester City man. Kayode Odejayi is unavailable owing to a loan deal recently agreed with League One Scunthorpe United.
Player to watch: Michael Mifsud
Vital QPR has singled out loanee Michael Mifsud as the One to Watch ahead of this weekend`s clash against Barnsley
To view all the stats on the one to watch Click Here >>>.
Queens Park Rangers Team News:
Rangers will look to keep virtually the same line-up that performed so admirably against Cardiff City on Wednesday night. Paulo Sousa may well look to rest players in a few areas and utilise the squad after an energy-sapping week.
Radek Cerny will continue in goal after returning from his hamstring injury to oust Lee Camp from the starting line-up. The former Derby man was indeed correct in his assertion that when Radek returned he`d be out of the starting 11.
QPR fans will implore Sousa not to tinker with the Rangers rearguard as he did against Ipswich Town to the detriment of the performance. Matthew Connolly and Damien Delaney have grown in stature in their full back berths with the latter putting in an excellent display at Cardiff. Kaspars Gorkss and Damion Stewart form for my money the best partnership in the league and nothing should separate them between now and the end of the season.
Lee Cook and Wayne Routledge will occupy the wide positions with Gavin Mahon once again in place to shield the rearguard. Infront of him Mikele Leigertwood and Liam Miller could be set to continue, while Hogan Ephraim and Matteo Alberti are also in Sousa`s thinking for selection.
The striker`s role is a matter of debate as Samuel Di Carmine and Heidar Helguson have had the nod in recent games with Dexter Blackstock being overlooked, could this be the game for the fresh former Southampton man?
Long-term absentees Rowan Vine, Akos Buzsaky and Martin Rowlands will once again be missing from the sixteen while Patrick Agyemang will be looking to regain his fitness before rejoining the squad.
Player to watch: Kaspars Gork?s
QPR`s Latvian international Kaspars Gorkss has been in formidable form of late, seeing him emerge as one of the best defenders in the Championship at present.
The defender has flourished under the guidance of Paulo Sousa following his reintroduction into the side after a spell in the wilderness under former boss Iain Dowie.
His partnership with Damion Stewart has been a definitive plus point and one of few consistencies in the Rangers side as they have struck up an extremely reliable partnership at the heart of the Rangers rearguard.
Billed as a goalscoring central defender the R`s have yet to see the benefit of Gorkss in attacking areas, but there is no doubt from the positions he gets in when foraging forward that it is a matter of time before he bags his maiden R`s goal.
An intelligent defender Gorkss never looks to simply thump the ball away and clear his lines, rather keeping possession of the ball and distributing with excellent presence of mind and awareness.
To view Kaspars` profile Click Here >>>
Barnsley: Last 5 Games: L L L W D
QPR: Last 5 Games: W D D L D
Barnsley will be looking to put right a four game winless run at Oakwell, ordinarily a fortress for the reds. Home draws against Charlton and Preston sandwich disappointing defeats against Southampton and Ipswich respectively. The Tykes have lost five of their seven games in 2009 in all competitions – losing every game in January conceding 12 goals in the process.
Rangers away form has improved dramatically since the turn of the year, going six unbeaten on their travels under Paulo Sousa. Rangers however are without a win in their last four games and are looking for an overdue three points in their quest for the playoffs.
HEAD 2 HEAD
Last Time Out
Saturday 9th August 2008 – Loftus Road
Coca Cola Championship
QPR 2 (Fitz Hall 29, 31)
Barnsley 1 (Iain Hume 5)
Rangers Team: Radek Cerny, Peter Ramage, Fitz Hall, Kaspars Gorkss, Damien Delaney, Patrick Agyemang (Daniel Parejo 72), Gavin Mahon, Mikele Leigertwood, Emmanuel Ledesma (Matteo Alberti 84), Lee Cook, Dexter Blakstock
See also: Barnsley 0-1 QPR – 1982-83.
See also: Barnsley 1-3 QPR – 1996-97.
Referee– Mr R Shoebridge
Assistants – Mr M Brown & Mr I Nolan
Fourth official – Mr C Akers
Mr Rob Shoebridge from Derbyshire will officiate the R`s weekend clash with Barnsley at Oakwell.
To get all the stats on the official Click Here >>>.
An absolute must win game in light of results in recent weeks which have seen the R`s slip behind the chasing pack. Losing at home to Ipswich was a poor result but it may be the jumpstart the R`s needed as they competed so excellently against Cardiff on Wednesday.
Some might also argue that the thrashing live on Sky was more a reality check than a jumpstart, but either way the playoffs are still very much a possibility and combined with the R`s excellent recent away record they should be more than capable of overcoming Barnsley.
The R`s haven`t had a great record at Oakwell in times gone by, but the present class have a chance to make themselves the first side to beat Barnsley at Oakwell in 12 years; Which is why I predict:
Boxer`s Prediction: 2-0 Rangers
Ranger1975`s Prediction: 1-0 Rangers
Next Up In W12
Who– Norwich City
Where– Loftus Road
When– Tuesday 3rd March 2009 – 8:00pm