FOLLOWING the international break, and the elation of an excellent England performance, Rangers must get their feet back on the ground and concentrate on a tough test against Southampton this Sunday.
The Saints have fallen on hard times in recent years following relegation from the Premier League, and much like Rangers did in the past, gambling on a speedy return, contributing to their demise.
But in Jan Poortvliet the Saints fans have found a manager that plays football the right way, open, attacking football the order of the day as Southampton`s exuberance in youth looks to take the game to their opponents, and the meeting in W12 will be no different.
The club that discovered England hero Theo Walcott as well as accomplished Premier League left sided player Gareth Bale, stayed up by the skin of their teeth last season, but after a mass clearout including managerial, the Saints cost-cutting measured ensured they had to start at their beginnings.
The confidence that recent performances and results have given the south coast outfit, will make them a very different proposition from the side that visited W12 just over a year ago.
View From The Bench
QPR first team coach Iain Dowie was happy with his sides performance against Bristol City believing that his side could have nicked it but for the sending off of Emmanuel Ledesma,
‘I thought we shaded it in the first half.” Dowie told QPR.co.uk
‘I know it’s only a point but it’s an important point. It was two good football sides and they’ll cause you problems but other than Dele Adebola’s header we were fairly comfortable.’
There was notable praise from Dowie for a player that faces his old side this weekend, Dexter Blackstock,
‘Dexter has been on his deathbed all week but he did very well and worked very hard up top on his own.’
Dexter Blackstock himself urged his Rangers team-mates to be wary of his former side on Sunday, as the youth team players he played alongside get their chance to prove themselves,
‘I know most of the young lads there and they’re a very talented group of players,’ Blackstock told QPR.co.uk
‘They didn’t get a look in under the previous regime, but they’re starting to show people what they’re capable of now.”
‘I still speak to a few of them and they speak very highly of the Manager. He wants them to get the ball down and play total Dutch football and I think they’ll surprise a few people this season.” Dexter added,
‘We can’t afford take them lightly and that goes for the rest of the sides in this division too.’
Queens Park Rangers Team News:
Iain Dowie once again has a selection headache ahead of this Sunday`s clash against Southampton. A plethora of midfielders are at his disposal for the fixture and he will have to make a tough decision.
The game comes too soon for two midfielders as Akos Buzsaky has completed a combined 115 minutes for the reserves but still is not match fit following ankle surgery completed in the summer.
New signing Damiano Tommasi is set to feature for the reserves against Reading in a bid to get match fit. The new signing from Levante hasn`t played much of late and will be looking to get some minutes under his belt before challenging for the first team.
Rangers will also be without Emmanuel Ledesma, who has a one match ban for two bookable offences against Bristol City. Ledesma was given two yellows initially for throwing the ball away, then a tough tackle saw him leave the field. Hogan Ephraim should deputise for the Argentinean.
Rangers will look to continue with the same back four with Fitz Hall still missing with a catalogue of injuries, and Kaspars Gorkss seemingly drained making a couple of international appearances with Latvia.
Dexter Blackstock is set to continue his lone striker role, with Angelo Balanta and Patrick Agyemang in close contention to deputise.
All the talk surrounds competition for places in the heart of midfield with the R`s realising 4 into 3 doesn`t go. Daniel Parejo, Martin Rowlands, Mikele Leigertwood and Gavin Mahon are all vying for places in the presumed middle three.
Player to watch: Dexter Blackstock
Former Saint Dexter Blackstock will be looking to continue his good run of goals this weekend after bagging two goals in as many games, adding to his goal against Swindon Town in the League Cup.
A confidence player, Dexter seems to score in runs, going the vast majority of last season with a solitary goal, he set the division alight as it drew to a close seemingly scoring in every fixture.
Dexter started out at home town club Oxford United, and made quite the impression on Southampton boss Gordon Strachan, who snapped up the youngster in 2003, and they were forced to pay £275k in compensation to the U`s.
Dex shot onto the scene for Southampton scoring a hatrick in a League Cup tie against Colchester before netting against Portsmouth. Loan moves to the Championship in 2005 to Plymouth Argyle and Derby County respectively saw him bag an accumulation of 7 goals, one of those seven was a consolation against Rangers at Pride Park.
After 3 years at St. Mary`s, Dexter made the move to W12 for an undisclosed fee believed to be around £500k, and is arguably Gary Waddock`s most successful signing in his short tenure at Loftus Road.
Dexter has scored 21 goals in 78 league appearances for Rangers, and will be looking to add to his tally against his former side.
Southampton Team News:
The Saints will be without defender Michael Svensson for the televised trip to W12. The Swede who has had a whole host of injury complaints regarding his knee will miss the fixture on Sunday as a precautionary measure. Svensson has missed a vast part of the last five years with his knee complaint.
His exclusion leaves a void to fill at the back and either Chelsea loanee Jack Cork, or youngster Oliver Lancashire are anticipated to claim the centre back berth.
The Saints will also be without Jason Euell (shoulder), Aarran Rachine (knee) and Oscar Gobern (groin) who have all yet to feature this season.
A side built around youth players, Southampton will have a good array of young talent at their disposal including ever present striker David McGoldrick and Andrew Surman both expected to start, whilst Lee Holmes and Adam Lallana are also expected to feature in midfield.
On the periphery there is Nathan Dyer and Jamie White both young talents at Championship level. Combine this with the experienced heads of Stern John, Chris Perry and Paul Wotton, manager Jan Poortvliet has built an eclectic squad to select from.
Player to watch: David McGoldrick
Vital QPR has outlined David McGoldrick as one of Southampton`s most potent threats.
To read a comprehensive review on the young striker click here.
Rangers completed the first month this season in relatively good form. Some improving performances on the field have seen the R`s take 7 points from 4 games – the only defeat coming away to Sheffield United.
QPR have already proven their credentials at Loftus Road, winning all three of their home fixtures in all competitions scoring 8 goals and conceding 1, in 3 games.
Following initial narrow defeats at Cardiff and Birmingham, Southampton, but back to back wins in the Carling Cup, as they exacted early revenge over Birmingham City and a win over Derby County have given the Saints a real boost. However the defeat at home to Blackpool was a real eye-opener for the Saints before international weekend.
Southampton have seemed to prefer life on the road thus far with 2 of their 3 wins coming away from St. Mary`s. The defence has also been in reasonable form, conceding only 3 goals thus far this season.
HEAD 2 HEAD
Last time out
Saturday 9th February, 2008 – St. Mary’s
League Cup Round Two
Southampton 2 (Powell 1, John 90)
QPR 3 (Rowlands 38, Agyemang 45, 60)
Rangers Team: Lee Camp, Michael Mancienne, Zesh Rehman, Matthew Connolly, Damien Delaney, Kieran Lee (Akos Buzsaky 46), Gavin Mahon, Martin Rowlands, Hogan Ephraim (Mikele Leigertwood 83), Rowan Vine, Patrick Agyemang (Dexter Blackstock 79).
Referee– Mr. K A Friend
Assistants – Mr. G S Evetts & Mr. R G Vaughan
Fourth official – Mr. T M Kettle
Kevin Friend from Leicestershire will officiate Rangers televised clash with Southampton this Sunday.
To get all the stats concerning the official click here.
Southampton have proven their credentials on the road, and refused to resign their fate as relegation candidates. However with Rangers in the ascendency at home and competition for places fierce, they should be too strong for Southampton`s youngsters; Which is why I predict:
Boxer`s Prediction: 3-1 Rangers
Who – Norwich City
Where – Carrow Road
When – Wednesday 17th September: 7:45pm.