RANGERS will once again look to break their FA Cup hoodoo as they travel to face Sheffield United tomorrow.
The visitors’ form in the FA Cup has been relatively consistent since 2001 – being defeated at the first opportunity ever since and thus having the worst record in the Football League.
Since the victory over Luton Town, Rangers have been defeated by Arsenal, Swansea City, Vauxhall Motors, Grimsby Town, Nottingham Forest, Blackburn Rovers along with Luton, Chelsea and Burnley.
A sigh of disappointment could be heard around West London when the tie was drawn out against fellow Championship side Sheffield United, in a fixture that truly neither side needs and both sides will look to settle on the day.
Matters at QPR are still unresolved with Paul Hart being jeered by sections of support for his defensively-minded tactics and Flavio Briatore’s appeal to the FIA coming to fruition this month – a decision that will have repercussions on his involvement at Rangers.
All the pressure and expectation of a Championship fixture is due to subside as the two sides look to take it to their opponents and settle it on the day.
The meeting a fortnight ago will have given the sides a feel for the opposition players but it remains to be seen whether the cautious tactics of Hart will be deployed at Bramall Lane in a one-off encounter.
Ipswich Town 3 (Walters 4, Stead 63, 78)
Team: Radek Černý, Peter Ramage, Kaspars Gork?s, Damion Stewart, Tom Williams, Wayne Routledge, Ben Watson, Mikele Leigertwood, Ákos Buzsáky (Patrick Agyemang 66), Adel Taarabt (Angelo Balanta 78), Jay Simpson.
Sheffield United 1 (Ward 86)
Preston North End 0
Team: Mark Bunn, Chris Morgan, Matt Kilgallon, Jordan Stewart, Derek Geary, Stephen Quinn (Lee Williamson 71), Nick Montgomery, Henri Camara (Glenn Little 75), Richard Cresswell, Jamie Ward (Andy Taylor 89), Ched Evans.
Sheffield United Team News:
Who R Ya? >>>
Kevin Blackwell has vowed to call upon his more experienced players as the Blades host Rangers on Sunday.
Mark Bunn is likely to continue in goal unless Blackwell decides to use veteran Ian Bennett, but the back four is set to line-up with Derek Geary and Andy Taylor at full-back with Jordan Stewart sidelined.
Marcel Seip is set to make his debut alongside Chris Morgan as the Blades begin life without Matt Kilgallon who is bound to depart for pastures new.
With the word experience in mind Glenn Little may well start for the Blades on the right-wing with Stephen Quinn looking to continue on the left.
Nick Montgomery may start alongside Lee Williamson with utility player Ryan France seemingly unfancied to start by the boss.
The strike force looks set to comprise of Henri Camara and Richard Cresswell with that buzz-word experience resonating, but Ched Evans and Jamie Ward will look to use their sprightly legs from the bench.
Darius Henderson (gluteal muscle) and defender Kyle Walker (thigh) are set to sit out of this weekend’s encounter.
Geary – Seip – Morgan – Taylor
Little – Montgomery – Williamson – Quinn
Cresswell – Camara
Player to watch: Henri Camara
Blades forward Henri Camara has been outlined as the One to Watch ahead of Sunday’s clash at Bramall Lane.
The former Wolves, Wigan and Celtic man has yet to find a true home in football with a succession of clubs falling by the wayside.
His attitude has been lacking, but his talent has rarely been in doubt scoring goals in the Premier League for Wolves and Wigan – but acrimonious departures have been all too frequent.
He will be searching to fire the Blades into the Fourth Round of the competition while improving his goal tally in a bid to earn a long-term contract.
To read our profile of the forward Click Here >>>
QPR Team News:
Paul Hart will undoubtedly make changes to the side that were defeated at Ipswich and search for a fresh approach in an encounter with no pressure.
Radek Černý will vie with Rhys Taylor for a starting place, the last game of the Chelsea loanee’s brief spell at Rangers.
Kaspars Gork?s should be set to start once more in order to stabilise the defence, and he may be partnered by the returning Matt Connolly, with Fitz Hall and Damion Stewart pushing for a place.
Gary Borrowdale returns to the side following the recall of Tom Williams to Peterborough, with Peter Ramage looking to continue at right-back.
Hart should opt for a 4-4-2 formation given the lack of pressure on his side to defend, with Wayne Routledge and the returning Hogan Ephraim possibly set to occupy the flanks. Through the middle former Blade Mikele Leigertwood should partner Argentinean Alejandro Faurlín.
Adel Taarabt could feature instead of Ephraim or along with the former West Ham United man – featuring either wide or just in behind the front-man where he proved successful against Ipswich.
Jay Simpson is presumably eligible and should continue up-front, complimented by Taarabt, with Patrick Agyemang and Rowan Vine viable options from the bench, as is youngster Angelo Balanta.
Martin Rowlands (knee), Gavin Mahon (knee), Gareth Ainsworth (calf) and Lee Cook (knee) remain sidelined.
Possible line up:
Ramage – Connolly – Gork?s – Borrowdale
Routledge – Faurlín – Leigertwood – Ephraim
Player to watch: Wayne Routledge
Wayne Routledge is due a performance of note, as despite promising much in recent weeks he has delivered very little in terms of an end product.
The wide-man enjoyed an excellent start to the season in a more roaming role behind the front-man, but when asked to stick to the flank his form has suffered as a result.
On a wide pitch with plenty of space, Routledge will be looking to attack his respective full back – possibly former Rangers loanee Andy Taylor, and get some joy down the right.
To read his career profile Click Here >>>
The Stat Attack
Sheffield United: D W D L W
Queens Park Rangers: L D D W L
HEAD 2 HEAD
Sheffield United: 13
Queens Park Rangers: 15
LAST TIME OUT
Coca Cola Championship – 19-12-2009
Queens Park Rangers 1 (Leigertwood 2)
Sheffield United: 1 (Cresswell 8)
Team: Radek Černý, Peter Ramage, Damion Stewart, Mikele Leigertwood, Wayne Routledge, Patrick Agyemang, Kaspars Gork?s, Ben Watson, Tom Williams, Jay Simpson (Rowan Vine 68), Adel Taarabt.
Sheffield United 1-1 QPR – 14-11-1970
Referee: Mr Andy Hall (West Midlands)
Assistants: Mr Lee Metcalfe (Lancashire) & Mr Neil Hair (Cambridgeshire)
Fourth Official: Mr Russell Fletcher (Derbyshire)
Controversial official Andy Hall once again oversees a Queens Park Rangers game despite causing carnage on numerous occasions.
The last clash epitomised his career in general, seemingly desperate to hand out cards, two of them going to Ben Watson in the first period – the second for taking a free-kick too quickly.
Averaging over four cards a game this season, in the twilight of his career it is fair to say the Hall has not curbed his disciplined temprament.
To read our report on the official Click Here >>>
Both teams will play without pressure and look to get the game done at the first attempt, but the lack of conviction and the tactical stylings of both teams make for a low scoring draw.
Given Rangers’ recent form a draw is nearly the height of their ambitions, but some supporters would suggest that a defeat is preferred given their need to concentrate on league form.
Hopefully Paul Hart lets the more creative players break their shackles and names an attack-minded line-up with a view to winning the game.
In truth with both sides naming different line-ups and different tactical ploys anything could happen, but a draw looks the likely result on the day.
beforerodney: 2-0 QPR
dustman: 2-2 Draw
IRONMAN_11 2-2 Draw
nomar: 2-1 Blades
Superhoop50: 2-1 Blades
LeeCookFan: 3-0 Blades
Guttermouth: 3-1 Blades
jezza99: 3-0 Blades
southernhoop: 2-2 Draw
Ranger1975: 2-0 Blades
danielqpr: 1-1 Draw
Sandydl: 2-1 QPR
QPR4Me: 3-0 Blades
Daxvondrac: 2-1 QPR
TheStig136: 3-0 QPR
toboboly: 2-1 Blades
ImSitiv: 3-0 Blades
stuqpr: 3-2 QPR
Teams: QPR v Plymouth Argyle
Date: Saturday January 9, 2010
Ground: Loftus Road, London