THE game that fans have been waiting for has finally arrived as later today QPR have a chance to inflict a first defeat of the season on their neighbours.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men have proven formidable in their early showing with key players such as Didier Drogba and Michael Ballack firing on all cylinders to bolster Chelsea’s title hopes.
The Blues currently sit top of the pile in the Premier League with their rivals dropping points and a 100% record making the transition from Hiddink to Ancelotti entirely seamless.
While the Blues have a whole host of European talent available to them, Ancelotti will allow his fringe players and young-guns some game time to prove their effectiveness.
Rangers will be hoping to reproduce the calibre of performance that saw them demolish Cardiff City in the Welsh capital on Saturday, as Jay Simpson’s brace helped alleviate the pressure on some of the players.
Tonight Magilton’s overwhelming message to the players will undoubtedly be to play without fear and enjoy the occasion, in front of what will be a sizeable travelling support.
Can QPR do the unthinkable and dispel the misery of an FA Cup defeat the season before last, rest assured that both sides are different animals now, and the game could pan out differently to suit.
Cardiff City 0
QPR 2 (Simpson 19, 40)
Team: Radek Cerny, Mikele Leigertwood, Kaspars Gorkss, Damion Stewart, Gary Borrowdale, Wayne Routledge, Ben Watson, Martin Rowlands, Akos Buzsaky, Rowan Vine (Patrick Agyemang 82), Jay Simpson (Alessandro Pellicori 77)
Chelsea 3 (Cole A 32, Ballack 58, Drogba 63)
Tottenham Hotspur 0
Team: Petr Čech, Ricardo Carvalho, José Bosingwa, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Florent Malouda, Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack (John Mikel Obi 63), Michael Essien, Didier Drogba (Salomon Kalou 85), Nicolas Anelka (Franco Borini 89).
Chelsea Team News:
Who R Ya? >>>
Chelsea are set to make wholesale changes from the side that beat Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League with assistant boss Ray Wilkins admitting that an under-strength side would be fielded against QPR.
To that end Henriqué Hillario and Ross Turnbull will fight it out for the spot between the sticks, with experienced campaigner Paulo Ferriera expected to start in the back-line with Sam Hutchinson and Jeffrey Bruma also rumoured to be lining-up in defence.
The big news comes in midfield with Joe Cole and Yuri Zhirkov expected to make their first starts of the season after recovering from their respective injuries, with Deco injured and Michael Ballack and Frank Lampard being rested.
Up front Daniel Sturridge has picked up an achilles problem and will miss the opportunity for his Chelsea debut, while Didier Drogba will not be risked after a bout of cramp at the weekend.
Nicolas Anelka will also be rested with Italian Franco Borini expected to replace the Frenchman.
Player to watch: Yuri Zhirkov
Vital QPR had singled out Daniel Sturridge as the One to Watch, but with the striker picking up a last minute achilles injury we have had to switch tact and look at Russian international Yuri Zhirkov.
The former CSKA Moscow man has always impressed in the league and European competition for the Russians bagging a memorable goal against Hamburg, outlined in the below article.
The left winger is yet to make his first start for the Blues owing to an injury picked up during pre-season but this evening he will get his chance to show Stamford Bridge his capabilities.
To read our profile of the winger Click Here >>>
QPR Team News:
The time has come for Magilton’s men to put into practise what they have promised during several games this season. Indeed the clash against Cardiff at the weekend produced the calibre of display and result that performances had craved and the nucleus of the side should remain the same.
Rangers are still missing Fitz Hall and Angelo Balanta (groin), while Matthew Connolly also remains sidelined with glandular fever. Ben Watson is cup tied after having played in Wigan’s dismal defeat at Blackpool but Adel Taarabt returns to the fold after a bout of mumps.
Radek Cerny will line-up in goal behind a back four of Mikele Leigertwood, Kaspars Gorkss, Damion Stewart and Gary Borrowdale, with Wayne Routledge looking once again to continue his excellent recent form by occupying one of the flanks.
Magilton may move Akos Buzsaky inside in the wake of Watson’s omission, with Adel Taarabt returning to play out-wide. One thing is for sure Jim cannot tamper with the pairing of Rowan Vine and Jay Simpson that showed so well at the weekend.
Player to watch: Jay Simpson
Now is the time for heroes and in Jay Simpson QPR have a man with confidence, able to put Chelsea’s young defence to the sword.
The striker has a good record in the competition for Arsenal, and will look to take that, along with his brace at the weekend into this evening’s clash at the Bridge.
He will have a point to prove with Arséne Wenger undoubtedly casting an eye over proceedings in West London this evening and he could do his chances the world of good by performing well tonight.
To read his career profile Click Here >>>
The Stat Attack
Chelsea: W W W W W
Queens Park Rangers: L D W D W
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 13
LAST TIME OUT
FA Cup – 05-01-2008
Chelsea: 1 (Camp 28og)
Queens Park Rangers: 0
Team: Lee Camp, Fitz Hall, Damion Stewart, Chris Barker, Gareth Ainsworth (Patrick Agyemang 46), Matthew Connolly, Gavin Mahon, Martin Rowlands, Hogan Ephraim (Angelo Balanta 65), Dexter Blackstock, Akos Buzsaky (Keiran Lee 50).
Chelsea 0-2 – 29-01-1986
Referee: Mr M Jones
Assistants: Mr M J Cairns & Mr S P Beck
Fourth Official: Mr R J Booth
Mike Jones from Cheshire will take charge of Rangers clash with local rivals Chelsea this evening.
Jones has taken charge of six QPR games previously with Rangers only winning one. Fans will be hoping that the tide turns this evening.
To read our report on the official Click Here >>>
Optimism unbridled this evening, this kind of cup clash can evoke no greater feeling of going into a game as underdogs.
Chelsea are expected to dish out a sound victory this evening but with countless amounts of QPR fans populating the away end and home areas, they will be cheering their side with every sinew.
With the Blues on an outstanding run of form and Rangers just beginning to capture their, I predicts goals in a game full of attacking flair.
Next Up In W12
Teams: Queens Park Rangers v Barnsley
Date: Saturday September 26 2009 – 3:00pm
Ground: Loftus Road, London.