QPR are back on the road after a ten day break from competitive football. Last time out, Rangers travelled to Pride Park and came away with a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Wayne Routledge and Mikele Leigertwood. This was only our 2nd away win this season and the team will be hoping that they can build on this victory. And it was not just a win – but a masterful performance to boot, prompting Boxer to boast proudly, in his post-match report, that Rampant Rangers Run riot!
Of course, the euphoria experienced at this rare away victory was marred by the very disappointing news of Martin Rowlands` injury to his anterior cruciate ligament, which has prematurely ended his season. Since then, players like Lee Cook have spoken of their desire to play their way to success for the Rs on behalf of our iconic skipper. A win tomorrow night at Bloomfield Road would be a very nice tonic, I am sure!
In the last 10 days, with little or no activity in the transfer market, news coming out of the Club has been limited. As the players work on their training, we fans have heard from Head Physio, Paul Hunter, who has spoken frankly about our four long-term injured players, Vine, Agyemang, Buzsaky and Rowly, in Hunter On R Walking Wounded. Disappointingly, it has been confirmed that Agyemang will be sidelined till at least mid-April. However, there was great news regarding Rowan Vine. He is expected to make a visit to the Surgeon (hopefully his last) in the next few days, after which he should be able to pick up his training with a view to returning to first team action in the very near future. Hooray!
In the meantime, back to the football! Rangers will have to be o
Paulo Sousa could not hide his delight after our win at Derby. “I am of course delighted to get the first away win with me!” Sousa told the gathering media. “We have been very unlucky not to win away over the last few months, so today`s victory was fully deserved.”
Sousa had felt that that win was not just fully deserved but imminent, having claimed after our late defeat at Burnley in the FA Cup that we were due an away win because of the way we were now playing in away games. He praised his players for their response to the disappointment of going out of the Cup in the last minute of extra time:
“Especially when you lose a game after 120 minutes, creating a lot of opportunities, deserve to win, and you don`t win. What happens? Psychologically the players are down and it is not easy to deal with.
“Today my players answered this very well. It took a lot of personality to come here and control the game and play so well.”
“Some of our football was magnificent at times – it was probably the best we have played in my time in charge, certainly away from home,” he crowed.
Sousa also reserved special mention for injured skipper, Martin Rowlands, acknowledging what a terrible loss this is to the team. “We have lost a great player in Martin Rowlands, but his personality is huge. He is a fighter, a warrior, who epitomises everything we are about and his presence will continue to shine through.”
Blackpool versus Birmingham was the only Championship game played on Saturday. Blackpool came out victorious thanks to goals from DJ Campbell and Keith Southern, despite having midfielder Claus Jorgensen sent off in an off-the-ball incident. This victory meant Blackpool have done the double over the promotion favourites this season, as well as earning temporary manager, Tony Parkes, his first victory since taking over from Simon Grayson at the end of December.
Before the Birmingham game, Parkes had highlighted both that match and our own as vital for pulling the Seasiders out of a possible relegation scrap:“We have to win one of our next two home games,” he told the Blackpool Gazette.
‘I am viewing these next two home games as a nice opportunity to get some points on the board. We certainly need to win one, that’s for sure, and we will be going all out to do that.”
Unsurprisingly, Parkes could not hide his delight after the game: “You need victories if you want to get the job and this was a big victory against one of the top sides in the division,”he told the BBC.
“It was well deserved because they didn`t have too many chances and when we went down to ten men we battled hard and hung on for the result.”
Blackpool Team News:
Blackpool seem to have a problem with injuries and suspensions causing havoc in team selection. Striker Keith Southern is doubtful for tomorrow`s game having sustained an injury to his ankle after scoring against Birmingham on Saturday. He will have a late fitness test but is not expected to feature. In addition, Blackpool have strikers Ben Burgess and Steve McPhee still out through injury.
Furthermore, the red card that Jorgensen received on Saturday takes effect immediately, so he will not feature for the Seasiders for the next three games. This means that Blackpool are woefully short of players for the central midfield position and, unless they can bring someone in on loan within the next 24-hours, it is possible that David Vaughan will have to step into the breach.
Blackpool have taken Liverpool youngster Krisztian Nemeth, a striker, on loan for a month and he will go straight into their squad for tomorrow night`s game.
Player to watch: DJ Campbell
VitalQPR have spotlighted loan striker DJ Campbell as the “One To Watch”.
To view all the detail regarding the One to Watch Click Here >>>
Queens Park Rangers Team News:
QPR will, of course, be missing the “walking wounded” quartet of Patrick Agyemang, Akos Buzsaky, Rowan Vine and Martin Rowlands. Hogan Ephraim deputised more than ably for Rowlands in the Derby game and will hope to retain his place in the starting XI. However, the injury to Rowlands could be the opportunity for new signing Liam Miller to come straight into the team as he is a natural replacement as a central midfielder.
The big return to Bloomfield Road awaits defender Kaspars Gorkss, who will expect to retain his place alongside Damion Stewart in the heart of our defence. Sousa could well keep the same defensive format as against Derby, with Matt Connolly as right-back and Damien Delaney at left-back.
Wayne Routledge will look to continue his great start to his QPR career and Lee Cook has vowed to score goals from midfield for our injured skipper. Again, Sousa may well stick with the attacking formation that worked so well against Derby, with Gavin Mahon and Mikele Leigertwood in midfield and a lone striker, who could be one from Helguson, Blackstock and Di Carmine.
Rangers fans will no doubt be watching to see who Sousa hands the skipper`s arm-band to. Both Mahon and Delaney have worn the band admirably before now. All will be revealed tomorrow night!
Player to watch: Wayne Routledge
Routledge joined the Rs at the beginning of this month and he has made an immediate impact. Fans glimpsed his potential in his home debut in the 1-1 draw against Coventry but he burst to life in his next match, the away trip to Derby.
Routledge scored our opening goal against the Rams on 22 minutes after the ball ran loose to him inside the box and he found himself with plenty of space to tuck it inside the right-hand post. He then turned provider, as he cleverly kept the ball in play on the goal line, whilst being harried by Rams` defender Mo Camara. He cut the ball back across the penalty area to the waiting Mikele Leigertwood, who made no mistake from just inside the box. Routledge had run down virtually the entire length of the right-hand side of the pitch, from near his own penalty area, to receive a beautifully weighted pass from Matthew Connolly, before cutting into the penalty area – reminiscent of the great Dave Thomas or Wayne Fereday!
He teased and tormented Camara all afternoon and Rangers fans will be hoping for more of the same from the tricky winger who loves nothing more than finding himself facing a one-on-one with a defender!
Match Facts & Stats
Blackpool Last 5 games: D D L L W
QPR Last 5 games: D D D L W
Tony Parkes has been in charge since the end of December. In his first game, the Seasiders faced an away trip to Sheffield Wednesday. They took the lead on 48 minutes, thanks to a Gow penalty, but their lead lasted a mere 7 minutes; and the game ended 1-1. Next came an away trip to leaders Wolves, which ended 2-2, and this was followed by an early exit from the FA Cup, as they lost at Torquay 1-0. A 2-1 defeat away to Coventry was then followed by their excellent 2-0 victory at home on Saturday to Birmingham.
QPR did not play on the weekend. We are, in fact, undefeated in the league since 9th December (1-0 away to Sheffield Wednesday). But it could be considered that we have drawn too many of the subsequent games, with our wins coming at home to Preston (3-2) on 20th December, and away to Derby (2-0) on 17th January.
Head 2 Head
See also: The Stat Attack – Blackpool.
Last Time Out.
Saturday 30 September 2008 – Loftus Road
Coca Cola Championship
QPR – 1 (Blackstock, 79)
Blackpool – 1 (Taylor-Fletch, S18)
QPR team: Radek Cerny, Peter Ramage, Damien Delaney, Damion Stewart, Damion Stewart, Fitz Hall, Emmanuel Ledesma (Patrick Agyemang 46), Lee Cook, Daniel Parejo (Mikele Leigertwood 46), Martin Rowlands, Gavin Mahon (Akos Buzsaky 73), Dexter Blackstock.
See also: History Special – Blackpool 1967/
Referee: Mr G Laws
Assistants: Mr DS Bond and Mr KJ Mattocks
Fourth Official: Mr I Siddall
Mr Graham Laws, of Tyne & Wear, is the man in charge tomorrow night up at Bloomfield Road.
To get all the stats concerning the official Click Here >>>.
I am going to stick my neck out on this one (remember, I was a cautious predictor of a 1-1 draw against Derby!) I think that Rangers will have taken great heart from the manner of their victory lat time out and, although Blackpool will be no push-over and will be buoyed by their victory against Birmingham, I feel we will get another away win under our belts. Which is why I predict:
Sandydl`s prediction 1-2 to QPR
Who – Reading
Where – Loftus Road
When – Saturday 31 January at 3.00 pm