Rangers return to Loftus Road this weekend for a home fixture against Cardiff City in, what can only be hoped, better circumstances than the last home fixture! Last time round, fans and players had to endure appalling weather conditions along with a decidedly appalling referee who saw fit to send Mikele Leigertwood off just before half-time! A similar end result as the one that night, namely a 1-0 victory to the Rs against high-flying Birmingham City, would be greatly appreciated by all!
The Rs followed that battling victory with a more traditional away loss at Ipswich Town. Having dominated proceedings in the first half, but with no goals to show for it, Rangers all but succumbed in the second half and, finally, did succumb, going down 2-0 in what really should have been a game we took maximum points from – if only based on our first-half performance.
Cardiff City have had a very good start to the season and last month they managed to pick up a very healthy 11 out of a possible 15 points, with 3 wins and 2 draws. This form saw their manager, Dave Jones, announced as the Championship`s Manager of the Month for October. Their first game in November, a home fixture against table-toppers Wolves, saw the Bluebirds go down 2-1; so they will be looking to get November back on track when they visit Loftus Road this weekend.
With Rangers sitting in 7th and Cardiff one place above us in 6th, and 3 points ahead of us, this fixture has all the makings of a classic encounter.
R`s caretaker manager Gareth Ainsworth admitted he did not like the taste of defeat after the game against Ipwich:
‘I`ve had the full spectrum of emotions now,’ he told QPR.co.uk ‘Of course I hate tasting defeat but I`m sure I`ll have learnt a lot from the experience.’
Ainsworth thought that the R`s should have been ahead at the break‘I don`t think anyone here would have had any complaints if we`d have been a goal or two to the good at the break.’ He went on to add: ‘The major difference today was that we didn`t take our chances and they did.’
Although the R`s battled throughout the game, Ainsworth bemoaned the fact that we had had to play our previous game with 10 men for the entire 2nd half:
‘Playing for 45 minutes with ten men on Tuesday, in atrocious conditions, probably caught up with us a bit in the second half. That`s not making excuses,’ he added, ‘it`s an honest appraisal. We looked a bit leggy late on and they took full advantage.’
Gareth also rued two defensive lapses which cost us the game:
‘We switched off from two set-pieces and that`s disappointing. We pride ourselves on our defensive display and we paid the price for it today.’
Bluebird`s boss Dave Jones rued the fact that his side conceded two sloppy goals against table-toppers Wolverhampton Wanderers:
‘Those two goals gave us a mountain to climb,’ Jones admitted to CardiffCityFC.co.uk
‘We shouldn`t have been too open too wide,’ Jones explained.
‘Players are not doing what they have been doing and they switched off. Then there was a mountain to climb and we got half-way up it.’
‘It was always going to be a chase and you can`t chase a game for 80 minutes. You can`t give a good side the opportunity to go 2-0 up and then let them sit back and try and catch you on the break.’
Jones was also left ruing the fact that he lost both his top strikers to hamstring injuries during the game but didn`t attribute those losses to the team`s overall performance or the final result:
‘It was hard losing Jay (Bothroyd) but to be fair we got ourselves back in the game.’
‘But to then lose your other one (Ross McCormack) is always hard and you can`t lose your good players.’
‘It wasn`t anything to do with that, we still gave it a go and we probably could have sneaked a draw at the end.’
Queens Park Rangers Team News:
Ainsworth has confirmed to QPR.co.uk that he has a fully fit squad to choose from. That means recent injury victim, Patrick Agyemang, is back in contention after coming through the Reserves game against Crystal Palace on Bonfire Night.
However, Rangers will definitely be without Mikele Leigertwood, who will serve the second of a four-match ban following his red card in the Birmingham game. Long-term injury victim Rowan Vine is the only other first-team player who will definitely not be in the squad this weekend.
Ainsworth could start with the team which began against Ipswich last week. On that occasion he played Samuel Di Carmine as the lone striker, with Daniel Parejo playing just behind him in a 4-4-1-1 formation, with Blackstock starting on the bench.
With Agyemang fit again, though, Ainsworth may opt for two upfront, as he did against Birmingham, possibly starting with a partnership of Blackstock/Di Carmine with Agyemang on the bench, as he has only played one 90-minute reserve game since recovering from a pelvic injury.
The midfield seems to be taking care of itself with Cook and Buzsaky taking the wide positions and Rowlands and Tommasi in centre midfield. Ledesma could start on the bench as he did against Ipswich. The same seems to be true for the defence, with Cerny in goal, Delaney and Connolly in the full-back positions, and Stewart and Hall centre defence.
Player to watch: Akos Buzsaky
The QPR favourite can turn a game on a pin-head. Although in some of the recent games he has played in, since returning from a long-term ankle injury sustained in the spring of this year, the Magical Magyar has not been as imposing or threatening, he is, nevertheless a player to take very, very seriously.
It can be argued that there is no player to match Buzsaky`s talents in the Championship and it would probably not be too far off the mark to say that, on his day, his talent would grace a Premier League side. Certainly his home country, Hungary, recognizes his skills: when fit, he is a regular member of the national side, having represented his country 13 times since 2005.
Buzsaky has natural flair and ability as well as an extraordinary talent for the incredible.
Last season, Buzsaky scored some outstanding goals and Rangers fans will remember, with great delight, that goal against Blackpool in March, which earned him the Kiyan Prince Goal of the Season Award for 2007/2008.
This season, he showed the fans what they had been missing with a cracking goal from distance against Nottingham Forest, which goal turned out to be the winner.
Buzsaky prefers to play in centre midfield, which is where most of his goals have come from. He is also a lethal dead-ball specialist.
Cardiff City Team News:
Cardiff City have lost both first choice strikers Jay Bothroyd and Ross McCormack to hamstring injuries. The injuries look to be pretty long-term prompting manager Dave Jones to raid the loan market this week. He has succeeded in signing Sunderland striker (and former Bluebird) Michael Chopra, who will be expected to make his debut on Saturday.
Mark Kennedy could miss out on a starting place, along with fellow midfielders Riccardo Scimeca and Tony Capaldi, who are also injured. And BBC.co.uk reports that three unnamed Cardiff City players reported in sick today and may not be well enough by tomorrow to play.
Midfielder Peter Whittingham could therefore continue in midfield, having started last weekend for Cardiff when they faced Wolves. Teenagers Jon Brown (striker) and Darren Dennehy (defender) could be called into the first team squad, although Brown has been called up to the Wales U-19 squad to play a series of championship matches in Turkey and is due to fly out this coming Friday.
Player to watch: Darren Purse
Club Captain and stalwart defender Darren Purse has been highlighted as the Cardiff player QPR will have to watch on Saturday. To find out more about Darren Purse, go to Click Here >>>
Match Facts & Stats
QPR: Last 5 Games: W D D W L
Cardiff City: Last 5 Games: W D W W L
Rangers have won only six of their eight home games this season, drawing once and losing once. This is an impressive home form, but the team will be looking to improve on their goal-scoring record of late: since beating Southampton 4-1, the Rs have only managed to find the net 4 times in 4 games!
Cardiff have not lost away this season. They have won twice and drawn 5 of their 7 away fixtures. They have, in fact, lost only twice all season, form which has guided them into the top 6 and given manager Jones the October Manager of the Month award. Until the loss of their striking partners, Bothroyd and McCormack, Cardiff were not having trouble scoring goals. Nor have they conceded that many; although away from home they have managed to find the net 7 times but shipped 5 in reply.
HEAD 2 HEAD
Last time out
Tuesday 29th January 2008 – Ninian Park
Coca Cola Championship
Cardiff 3 (Ledley 12, 40, Parry 57)
QPR 1(Agyemang 76)
Rangers Team: Lee Camp, Damien Delaney, Damion Stewart, Mattew Connolly (Dexter Blackstock 45), Fitz Hall (Michael Mancienne 38), Gavin Mahon, Akos Buzsaky (Hogan Ephraim 61), Martin Rowlands, Mikele Leigertwood, Rowan Vine, Patrick Agyemang .
See also One Day In History – Cardiff 1979-80: Click Here >>>.
I would like to say this will be a “walk in the park” – but I can`t! I think that this game will be very tough, particularly with Cardiff not having lost away from home so far this season. But, if QPR can repeat the battling performance they gave against Birmingham City, and particularly with the Rs defence looking very solid in recent games (excluding the two “hiccups” which cost us the Ipswich game!) and with Cardiff rocked by the loss of their strikers, I predict:
Sandydl`s Prediction: 2-1 to QPR
Who– Manchester United
Where– Old Trafford, Manchester
When– Tuesday 11th November: 8:00pm.