THE second game of a punishing Christmas schedule sees Rangers host Watford in W12.
While Rangers claimed a point at the Valley against relegation candidates Charlton Athletic, Watford were getting well beaten at home by Bristol City in a six-goal thriller.
The defeat marked the Hornets second defeat in succession after losing by the odd goal up at Pride Park, and the four goals they conceded against the Robins on Boxing Day made it ten goals conceded in December alone.
New Boss Brendan Rodgers has lost three of his seven games, while drawing and winning two a piece. The former Chelsea coach is yet to win a game away from Vicarage Road since taking over from caretaker boss Malky Mackay – who himself engineered a 3-0 win against Rangers in his last game in charge.
Watford have not kept a clean sheet under the new boss which has seen them drop to 19th in the table – dispelling initial expectations of midtable or playoff aspirations.
The Hornets will have to face old foes in Heidar Helguson and Lee Cook, with the former set to get a considerably better reputation, with Watford fans still bitter at Cookie`s move to his boyhood club.
R`s boss Paulo Sousa believed that he had learnt a lot about his squad after the 2-2 draw with Charlton Athletic.
He said: ‘I have learnt a lot about my squad today.
‘People talk all the time about the transfer window, but the players that came in today showed me they have a big role to play.
‘They proved a lot to me and that is very promising. As a group we are getting closer and that gives me great confidence.’
The R`s boss also believed that the system he has chosen for Rangers is improving game on game, and his side is beginning to reap the rewards:
He said: ‘The system is working well and we are getting better and better.
‘I think Charlton are a very good side and I am surprised at their position in the table.
‘It was a very exciting match. We controlled a lot of the match, with and without the ball, and we can take a lot of confidence from today.’
Watford boss Brendan Rodgers was very frank about his side`s performance in the 4-2 home defeat against Bristol City.
He said: ‘I want a group of players who are hungry and if they aren’t hungry then they won’t be here.
‘It’s the first disappointing result since I’ve been here. I’ve seen some frailties but I know Bristol City are a good team.
“We’ve got real good qualities in the group but it counts for nothing if you don’t have the personality and today we didn’t show that.’
QPR Team News:
Rangers will have both Heidar Helguson and Lee Cook available for the fixture against their old club. Heidar is fondly remembered by Hornets supporters for his good goalscoring record, whereas Rangers fan Lee Cook is lambasted for opting to turn down a new deal at the Vic to sign for his boyhood club.
Paulo Sousa may well ring the changes once more as Rangers host Watford at Loftus Road. With Damion Stewart and Damien Delaney both omitted from the squad against Charlton – they look set to return to the first team squad.
However with good performances by Kaspars Gorkss and Fitz Hall, it remains to be seen as to whether either can break back into the first team set-up. Matteo Alberti`s impressive display will not have gone unnoticed by Sousa, but Ephraim looks set to come back in the right midfield berth.
The strike force of Dexter Blackstock and Samuel Di Carmine looks set to be broken with Patrick Agyemang and Helguson waiting in the wings for a start. While former Watford midfield general Gavin Mahon looks set to re-gain his place ahead of Mikele Leigertwood.
In truth the shake-up against Charlton could prompt more changes against Watford, but of that no-one can be certain other than Paulo Sousa.
Player to watch: Dexter Blackstock
With Dexter striking once again on Boxing Day it took his tally to ten for the season as he continues to impress as Rangers top goalscorer.
Dexter has scored two in his last two fixtures and hopes to continue this run against the Hornets in W12. For all of his goals this season, Dexter, like many other Rangers forwards, has proved wasteful in front of goal.
Several missed chances in recent games has blighted Rangers recent record and Dexter has been the culprit of several guilt edge misses along with Patrick Agyemang who seems totally bereft of confidence in front of goal.
Dexter has proved the pick of the bunch, as both he and Heidar Helguson have scored the wealth of the R`s goals in recent fixtures, as he looks to extend his scoring run over the festive period.
Watford Team News:
The Hornets have one major injury concern surrounding forward Tamas Priskin. The striker`s absence will give Grzegorz Rasiak another chance to impress following his goal on Boxing Day.
There could be wholesale changes to the side that capitulated against Bristol City with Ross Jenkins set to regain his midfield berth ahead of John-Joe O`Toole.
Rasiak looks set to partner Tommy Smith, while Jobi McAnuff will continue to roam his right wing role as one of the Hornets most potent threats.
Player to watch: Lee Williamson
Vital QPR has singled out Jamaican international Lee Williamson as the One to Watch ahead of tomorrow`s clash with Watford
To view all the stats on the one to watch Click Here >>>.
Match Facts & Stats
QPR: Last 5 Games: W L D W D
Watford: Last 5 Games: L W W L L
Rangers have suddenly started scoring goals of late, as they are now three games without a defeat. A sudden spate of conceding goals has blighted otherwise good defensive displays, with a brace being conceded against both Preston and Charlton.
Watford have lost two games on the spin, this came after back to back wins, marking the inconsistency of the Brendan Rodgers era. Watford have conceded five goals on their travels since the former Chelsea man came to power scoring only three goals – with back to back defeats blighting their recent record.
HEAD 2 HEAD
Last time out
Saturday 22nd November 2008 – Vicarage Road
Coca Cola Championship
Watford 3 (Smith 26pen, Ward 34, Williamson 45)
Rangers Team: Radek Cerny, Damien Delaney, Damion Stewart, Fitz Hall (Sent Off 81), Peter Ramage, Gavin Mahon (Damiano Tommasi 46), Mikele Leigertwood, Emmanuel Ledesma (Daniel Parejo 53), Hogan Ephraim, Dexter Blackstock (Samuel Di Carmine 61), Patrick Agyemang.
See also: One Day In History – Watford 1971-72.
Referee– Mr C Penton
Assistants – Mr D Buck & Mr A A Laver
Fourth official – Mr E B Mackrell
Mr Clive Penton from Sussex will officiate the R`s clash with Watford this tomorrow.
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: 2-0 Rangers
LeeCookFan`s Prediction: 3-0 Rangers
Ranger1975`s Prediction: 2-0 Rangers
ACE`s Prediction: 2-0 Rangers.
Who– Burnley (FA Cup 3rd Round)
Where– Loftus Road
When– Saturday 3rd January 2009 – 3:00pm