QPR travel to Stoke this weekend in search of their first away win in nearly a calendar year. Ironically, their last away victory was against Stoke under Neil Warnock, where R’s legend Heider Helguson scored a brace and led the line heroically that day. Sadly, the R’s last win in the Premier League was also against Stoke back in May, where a last minute Djibril Cisse goal proved to be the difference. Times are tough on the road for Rangers and it will take a massive turnaround if they are to get three points tomorrow.
The problem is QPR aren’t playing like a team at the moment but their opponents Stoke, whatever you think of them, do. They play as a well-drilled unit where everyone knows their respective jobs and in turn this helps them grind out enough points year on year to survive in the league. I hate to say it but QPR could learn a lot from Stoke, especially defensively.
We all know Stoke are one of the most physical sides in the league and will give any defence a thorough examination. At this moment in time, our defence is struggling to deal with basic set-pieces and we’re conceding many sloppy goals. Stoke are not the type of side that our defence will want to face right now. In Rory Delap’s absence, new signing Geoff Cameron has taken up the long-throw responsibility to great effect. Every throw will feel like a corner and if we continue to allow attackers free headers from these positions, we will find ourselves in real trouble tomorrow.
I hope Mark Hughes and his men have worked very hard on set plays this week. I also hope our defence will concentrate for ninety minutes and know exactly what their individual jobs are this time round. Stoke are not just a set-piece side though. They play with great width and have effective wingers in Michael Kightly and Matty Etherington, who always look to get to the byline and get a cross in for Peter Crouch, who in my opinion is one of the best strikers in the league.
QPR 1 (Cisse)
Reading 1 (Gorkss)
Team: Cesar, Traore (Onuoha), Ferdinand, Nelsen, Bosingwa, Diakite, Taarabt, Granero, Cisse, Mackie (Zamora), Hoilett.
Norwich 1 (Johnson)
Team: Begovic, Cameron, Huth, Shawcross, Wilkinson (Whelan), Nzonzi, Adam, Whitehead, Kightly (Etherington), Walters (Jones), Crouch.
Stoke Team News:
Rory Delap is out with a hernia injury. Michael Owen has injured his hamstring and will miss the game. Marc Wilson is a long term absentee with a broken leg.
Possible line up:
Cameron – Shawcross – Huth – Wilkinson
Kightly – Adam – Nzonzi – Etherington
Crouch – Walters
Player to watch: Ryan Shawcross
Ryan Shawcross has been identified as the player to watch ahead of tomorrow’s match against Stoke.
For Vital QPR’s comprehensive review of the defenderClick Here >>>
QPR Team News:
QPR will wait on Park Ji-Sung’s fitness after he missed last weekend’s draw with Reading. Stephane M’Bia is suspended, while Fabio and Andrew Johnson are out.
Possible line up:
Bosingwa – Nelsen – Ferdinand – Traore
Taarabt – Diakite – Granero – Mackie
Zamora – Cisse
Player to watch: Julio Cesar
I get the feeling Julio Cesar is going to be kept rather busy tomorrow and will need a performance similar to the one against Arsenal if we are going to get anything from the game. Cesar has been unfortunate with some of the goals he has conceded this season. Deflections off the post and ricochets off defenders have resulted in cheap goals that have left the Brazilian international without much of a chance. He’s a world class keeper and he has played really well when you consider the lack of protection from his defence. Cesar will need to be in full voice, commanding his defenders, as Stoke will bombard our penalty area throughout the game. I have confidence that Cesar can prove to be the difference in what will be a tight game.
The Stat Attack
Queens Park Rangers: LLDLD
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 17
LAST TIME OUT
Premier League – 06/05/12
QPR 1 (Cisse)
Team: Kenny, Hill, Taiwo, Ferdinand, Onuoha, Derry (Bothroyd), Taarabt, Buzsaky (Cisse), Barton, Mackie, Zamora (Wright-Phillips)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistants: A Garratt & P Kirkup
Fourth Official: M Jones
Martin Atkinson is the match official for tomorrow’s game. Last season Atkinson issued 146 yellow cards and 11 red cards in 40 games.
QPR will no doubt approach this game with caution. I cannot for the life of me see Mark Hughes going out all guns blazing. Part of me thinks, if we try to defend from the off, we will not win as our defence isn’t strong enough to cope with a 90 minute onslaught. Going forward we’re getting better in terms of our movement and link up play but we’re still a little pedestrian and static for my liking. Room for improvement that’s for sure. I think this Stoke game has come at the wrong time for our defence and with the suspension of Stephan Mbia and the likely inclusion of Anton Ferdinand, I’m struggling to see how we will hold out. Personally, I think the game is made for Clint Hill. He’s rough, aggressive and happy to go toe to toe with any of the Stoke team in a physical battle. As a former Stoke player, I’d expect nothing less from him.
Stoke have fast and tricky wingers but we have the fullbacks to counter that. Apart from that, there isn’t much pace in their side, which leads me to believe playing Ryan Nelsen and Clint Hill together isn’t too much of a risk and could help counter their aerial threat. That said, I think Stoke will win but it will be tight.
Where: Loftus Road