After facing three of the best in the league, QPR enter a period of fixtures where whole-hearted performances will not be enough. The R`s need to up their game against the supposed unspectacular teams, as it`s no coincidence that our better performances have been against the bigger sides so far this season. Joey Barton described Stoke as a wounded animal after their 5-0 defeat to Bolton. Echoing Barton`s sentiments, I feel Tony Pulis` men are a very dangerous prospect, a wounded animal with quite a sinister bite in their locker. Neil Warnock will need to prepare his men accordingly in order for the Super Hoops to claim three points.
Tomorrow sees two sides that can both mix it physically and at times play attractive football. Stoke will be searching for their first league win in four and will view QPR as a perfect opportunity to rise out of their recent slump. Neil Warnock on the other hand shouldn`t need to motivate his players too much after the last three performances and judging by that evidence, QPR are more than a match for Stoke. If they play to the same level as they did last time out, I could see us picking all three points. It has been the last couple of games that Warnock has found his best, most balanced side. Two up front and Barton in the middle has worked very well so far and it will be intriguing to see how they fair against one of the league`s more physical sides.
Tony Pulis has created a perfect blueprint for sides looking to consolidate their position in the Premier League. Each year they add a little bit of extra quality to their squad without breaking the bank and ultimately it has paid dividends. Stoke have their own original brand of football that has seen them compete comfortably in the top flight ever since they arrived in 2008. Pulis has instilled a mixture of unashamed directness coupled with old fashioned wing play to good effect, however, the strain of playing in Europe midweek is beginning to take its toll.
QPR2 (Bothroyd, Helguson)
Manchester City 3 (Dzeko, Silva, Toure)
Team: Kenny, Young, Gabbidon, Ferdinand, Traore (Hill), Mackie (Smith), Faurlin, Barton, Wright-Phillips, Bothroyd (Puncheon), Helguson
Bolton 5 (Eagles x2, Klasnic x2, Davies)
Stoke City 0
Team: Begovic, Huth, Upson, Wilkinson (Higginbotham), Woodgate, Whelan (Whitehead), Pennant (Jones), Delap, Walters, Crouch, Jerome
Stoke Team News:
Tony Pulis selection process is boosted with news that Matthew Etherington, Ryan Shawcross and Marc Wilson are back from injury. Strikers Ricardo Fuller and Mamady Sidibe are both out, however Fuller isn`t far from full fitness.
Huth – Shawcross – Woodgate – Wilkinson
Pennant – Whelan – Delap – Walters
Crouch – Jerome
Player to watch: Jonathan Walters
Vital QPR has singled out Jonathan Walters as the One to Watch this weekend
To read our profile of the player Click Here >>>
QPR Team News:
Fitz Hall is out with a hamstring strain. Akos Buzsaky could make the bench while DJ Campbell and Kieron Dyer are both definitely out.
Possible line up:
Young – Ferdinand – Gabbidon -Traore
Mackie – Barton – Faurlin – Wright-Phillips
Bothroyd – Helguson
Player to watch: Heider Helguson
I am going to put it out there; Heider Helguson may be my favourite player at the moment. This season Helguson has come into the side and led the line with tremendous courage and skill and even managed to score a few goals. In truth, his aerial ability is frightening. Last season I was in continuous admiration over his aerial prowess but this season it appears as if the Iceman has found an even bigger spring in his step as he has dominated every central defender he has faced this season. Christopher Samba, John Terry, Ledley King and Joleon Lescott, four of the best in the league have all been given a masterclass in the air by our boy Heider. Tomorrow he is up against Robert Huth, who just might be the best header of the ball in the league and part of me is relishing this match up even if Helguson is a good 5 inches shorter.
The Stat Attack
Queens Park Rangers: LDWLL
Stoke City: LLLWL
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 15
Stoke City: 6
LAST TIME OUT
Championship – 2/03/08
QPR 3 (Leigertwood x2, Buzsaky)
Stoke City 0
Team: Camp, Mancienne, Connolly, Delaney, Hall (Stewart), Buzsaky, Leigertwood, Ephraim, Rowlands (Ainsworth), Agyemang, Vine (Blackstock).
Referee: Mr M Jones
Assistants: Mr D England & Mr D Cann
Fourth Official: Mr M Clattenburg
Mike Jones is the match official for Saturday`s game. This season Jones has issued 42 yellow cards and 3 red cards in 9 games.
To read our report on the official Click Here >>>
I don`t think it will be a particularly pretty game. I believe QPR could get sucked into a very direct match, albeit one that will no doubt be entertaining and hard fought. If Rangers play to their strengths, with the ball to feet and quick interchanging then we could prove to be too strong for Stoke, who are looking quite tired of late. I`d like to see QPR press like they did against Chelsea and Man City, if we can force players of that quality into mistakes then we should in theory be able to do the same to Stoke.
Both sides have pace on the flanks and height up front which makes for an even game. I feel QPR could win the game in the centre of the park. Ale Faurlin and Joey Barton have formed a cohesive partnership that has a little bit of everything, technique, guile, steel and creativity. Faurlin and Barton against Whelan and Delap could be a winnable match-up and one pivotal to the outcome of the game.
1-2 Away Win.
Who: NORWICH CITY
Where: CARROW ROAD
When: 26/11/2011 – 1500