TWO sides with playoff ambitions clash infront of the Sky cameras at Loftus Road – with both outfits looking to assert their promotion credentials as the season begins to wind down.
After another weeks rest owing to Cardiff`s rescheduled cup clash with Arsenal Paulo Sousa`s men are back in action and looking to reassert some impetus on their playoff push.
Loftus Road has recently been a hive of positivity with several players coming out and staking their sides playoff and promotion ambitions, something that sits amusingly alongside the sheer negativity emanating from their opponents this weekend – despite being on the same points as Rangers.
A win against Championship strugglers Nottingham Forest has helped to alleviate some of the pressure that has built on Ipswich boss Jim Magilton. Indeed local newspaper, East Anglian Daily Times has called for Magilton to resign, a statement which owner Marcus Evans believed could prove ‘incredibly destabilising` in Ipswich`s second-half push.
It seems perplexing as to why some sections of the Town support are calling for Jim`s head considering his side have lost only once in their last eight games. Couple this with being only four points and four places off a playoff place it seems hard to imagine why Jim should go.
Like with Rangers there is a potential to spend money at Portman Road, however in reality Magilton has strengthened with the right players rather than the most expensive. The signings of David Norris and Kevin Lisbie are the only so-called big money moves that have made their way to Portman Road, with the side being cobbled together with free transfers and loan deals.
The last time the two sides fought it out infront of the Sky cameras it was Simon Walton`s penalty that drew Ipswich level against Gary Waddock`s Rangers in 2006. Since then both sides have been some distance away from the level their fans desire – this Saturday`s test will show who has the stomach for the fight in the playoff race.
Young midfielder Hogan Ephraim spoke to QPR.co.uk about his side`s chances against Town.
He said: ‘We`ll take one game at a time but if we can start with a win on Saturday and then build from there it`ll be a great boost.
‘Since I`ve been here we`ve always done well in Sky games, so that should bode well for us. We`re at home so the fans should be behind us and it`s a good game.
‘Ipswich are a good footballing side as well so it`ll be a good contest and a game we have to win.’
Radek Cerny told the Kilburn Times that his hamstring injury continues to hamper his progress and he believes it`s a race against time for him to face Ipswich.
He said: ‘This injury is going slow and I can’t say whether I will be ready for the next game.
‘I had a similar injury in pre-season and now it’s happened again. In my football life I’ve never had many injuries, but hopefully I’ll get through this and everything will be okay.
‘I don’t think it matters who is in the team – every player has to work hard anyway. My experience is that you always have to give 100 per cent and if you do this, good things will come.’
Defender Matthew Connolly looked back to previous encounter with Town and told QPR.co.uk of the positivity surrounding the R`s:
He said: “The games will come thick and fast now, maybe that will be best for us to keep playing and get in the rhythm and keep winning games. Obviously we lost to Ipswich away when Gaz (Gareth Ainsworth) was in control but we`ll be looking to win the home game now to get back at them.
“We`re unbeaten in a while and that`s a positive to look at and hopefully we can pick up three in the next game and push on again.”
Combative midfielder Mikele Leigertwood also spoke to QPR.co.uk ahead of the Ipswich encounter.
He said: ‘It’s a hugely important fixture for us,’ he told
‘Ipswich are a very good side, who are playing well on their travels this year, but we’re at home and we’ll be going out to win the match in style.
‘We need to beat the sides around us and that starts Saturday. We expect to beat teams at Loftus Road and our home form is mightily impressive this season.’
Ipswich boss Jim Magilton was philosophical speaking to itfc.co.uk believing his side were not as bad as some had made out.
He said: ‘There has been a lot of negativity around us this week from outside quarters but maybe we are not as bad as some people have made out and maybe I’m not as bad as some people have made out.
‘Football is all about opinions. If the criticism starts to affect my players, I will have something to say about it but my job is focused on the players and getting results for this football club.’
Queens Park Rangers Team News:
Rangers can once again call upon winger Lee Cook following the completion of his one-match suspension for five bookable offences. He may come in and replace Matteo Alberti on the left flank despite his brace against Nottingham Forest.
Radek Cerny faces a race against time to be fit for the game this weekend and should his hamstring injury keep him out then maligned stopper Lee Camp will line up between the sticks despite signalling his intention to leave.
The back four will remain the same with from right to left, Matthew Connolly, Damion Stewart, Kaspars Gorkss and Damien Delaney. Fitz Hall will once again have to bide his time on the bench as the Rangers rearguard seems unbreakable at present.
Gavin Mahon and Mikele Leigertwood will fight it out for the holding role with a plethora of attacking talent vying for the two central spots infront of the role. New signing Jordi López will be in contention along with Liam Miller, Hogan Ephraim and the aforementioned Alberti. The wide roles look set to be occupied by Cook and Wayne Routledge.
Rangers will be missing forward Samuel Di Carmine who picked up a knock on his ankle in the draw against Nottingham Forest. Should Rangers decide on a solitary striker Heidar Helguson could be set to leapfrog Dexter Blackstock into the starting line-up, with Angelo Balanta waiting in the wings.
Long-term absentees Rowan Vine, Akos Buzsaky and Martin Rowlands will once again be missing from the sixteen with Patrick Agyemang still not in contention following his thigh injury.
Player to watch: Liam Miller
The former Celtic and Manchester United man has been excelling in his central midfield role in recent games, leading him to be voted as man of the match in the goalless home draw against Reading.
Liam has now made three appearances since his arrival from Sunderland and has proven worthy cover for the injured Akos Buzsaky. Aided by Gavin Mahon and Mikele Leigertwood, Miller`s creativity has flourished and he will be looking to continue his good start this weekend.
Miller`s brand of positive football combined with his eye for a pass has helped the R`s plot swift counter attacks and create a number of chances.
To view Miller`s career history Click Here >>>
Ipswich Town Team News:
Who R Ya?.
Town have a fresh injury doubt following their narrow victory over Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night. Livewire forward Danny Haynes pulled up with what appeared to be a hamstring injury and will not be available for selection for the clash tomorrow evening.
He has a more than able deputy in Jon Walters who returned against Nottingham Forest after suffering from a stomach bug before their draw against Blackpool.
The defensive unit comprising of David Wright, Gareth McAuley, Alex Bruce and Ben Thatcher looks to remain unchanged with summer signing Pim Balkestein reduced to only nine league appearances this season.
Argentinean Luciano Civelli has caused quite a stir in Portman Road since his arrival from Banfield in the January transfer window. He will start once again this weekend but looks doubtful to complete the game as he continues to work his way to full fitness.
Owen Garvan and David Norris will be looking to come back into the starting line-up after a brutal schedule for Town. Tommy Miller and Alan Quinn played the full game in the middle of the park against Forest and may be a tad jaded going into the weekend`s fixture.
Kevin Lisbie may return after nursing back injury but with Jon Stead and Pablo Couñago set to continue their flourishing strike partnership there is no hurry for the former QPR loanee.
Player to watch: Jon Stead
Vital QPR has singled out Jon Stead as the One to Watch ahead of tomorrow`s clash Ipswich Town
To view all the stats on the one to watch Click Here >>>.
Match Facts & Stats
QPR: Last 5 Games: D W W D D
Ipswich Town: Last 5 Games: W D L D W
Rangers have started to perform under a delighted Paulo Sousa who has only incurred one league defeat in 13 outings and are currently undefeated in nine games. Rangers have now drawn two games in succession against Reading and Nottingham Forest.
In start contrast to last year Town seem to be performing better on their travels this season, beating Barnsley and thrashing Crystal Palace just after the turn of the year. They also performed admirably in their FA Cup defeat away to Chelsea.
Get all the stats from Lenny367 in The Stat Attack.
HEAD 2 HEAD
Ipswich Town: 25
Last Time Out.
Saturday 4th November 2008 – Portman Road
Coca Cola Championship
Ipswich Town 2 (Jon Stead 73, 75)
Rangers Team: Radek Cerny, Damien Delaney, Damion Stewart, Fitz Hall, Daniel Parejo, Akos Buzsaky (Emmanuel Ledesma 68), Martin Rowlands, Matthew Connolly, Lee Cook, Damiano Tommasi, Samuel Di Carmine (Dexter Blackstock 58).
See also: QPR 2-1 Ipswich – 1968-69.
See also: Ipswich 1-4 QPR – 1999-00.
Referee– Mr S Atwell
Assistants – Mr J Flynn & Mr D C Richards
Fourth official – Mr P Taylor
Mr Stuart Attwell from Warwickshire will officiate the R`s clash with Ipswich tomorrow evening.
To get all the stats on the official Click Here >>>.
Ipswich are a resurgent side and at the moment are banding together for the big push towards the playoffs. Doubtless Magilton will be using public criticism of him to give his side a siege mentality as they face Rangers tomorrow evening An early goal may just sink the confidence of the Tractor boys – and Rangers recent record on Sky certainly bodes well; Which is why I predict:
Boxer`s Prediction: 2-0 Rangers
Ranger1975`s Prediction: 2-1 Rangers
southernhoop`s Prediction: 3-0 Rangers
Lenny367`s Prediction: 1-0 Rangers
Who– Cardiff City
Where– Ninian Park
When– Wednesday 25th February 2009 – 7:45pm