Queens Park Rangers vs Tottenham Hotspur, Saturday 21st April, Loftus Road, 530pm kick off ESPN 1 & HD
THFC1882 is very thankful to Ciaran Griggs who has the unenviable task after last Sunday’s game, of previewing the massively important QPR match this Saturday evening.
- Climbing Mount Everest
- Running a marathon
- Winning a Pro Golf tournament
What do the above tasks have in common? All of them are hard. Unfortunately for me, none of them are harder than trying to inject this preview with a sincere level of optimism. For weeks now, Spurs fans have been approaching each match as the one to turn things around, the pivot, the catalyst to kick on and rescue our season. After Sunday’s match, the only chance Spurs have of a successful season is qualification for the Champion’s League. Financial nirvana, though understandably not as palatable to some fans as the glory associated with winning a cup.
So what crumbs of comfort can we salvage from the rain-soaked picnic that our season has become? Well, for one thing, QPR are very realistic candidates to be relegated from the Premier League. There are two schools of thought. Some say it’s harder to play the lower-placed sides as they are fighting for their place in the league, that they will be fired up from the get go. Were I a Spurs player approaching the fixture, I would take the opposing view. QPR are not a good side who are unfortunate to find themselves in relegation trouble. They are a poor side, and man for man, they are not as good as the Spurs side. The question is, can Harry inspire the latter view into the side, a knack that he appears to have lost in recent weeks with a series of abject, lacklustre performances.
Given that QPR are at home, I expect a fast start to the match with QPR seeking to rough up their more fashionable opponents, to try and destroy their rhythm. To counteract this, Harry HAS to play 2 DMs to allow us to build from a strong base. Those 2 DMs in turn should allow our skilful players to have more influence, Bale, Van der Vaart and Lennon attacking the space behind Ade, leading the front line ably, as he has done for most of the season. “WHAT” I hear you cry, “NO MODRIC?”. Luka has had a very poor couple of months and perhaps it’s time to park him for this match and let Rafa run the attacking moves for us. QPR do not have the attacking flair of Swansea or the organisation of Norwich so there should be space in that area of the pitch for VDV, Bale and Lennon to attck. At the back, we clearly struggled against Chelsea’s power with Gallas having a relatively poor match against a player currently in a rich vein of form in the ever controversial Drogba. We clearly have very limited options at the back however and we have to be wary of QPR’s attacking threat with Cisse, Zamora and Taarabt all being very capable players. Taraabt in particular should be highly motivated to prove himself against the club that decided him not good enough for long term first team honours in the Premier League. As for the rest of the defence, BAE and Walker both look extremely tired, having played almost every match in the league season so far. Coupled with Ledley’s recent shaky form, there will be nervy moments on Saturday and heart-rates will increase each time QPR enter the attacking third. At least we can expect a reversal of the ludicrous decision to drop our most consistent player of the season on Sunday. Brad Friedel has been an excellent addition to our side and with him between the sticks, the players have to be more confident than they were on Sunday night.
Lastly for this preview, it’s worth a quick mention on both the managers. Matches at the end of football seasons tend to be decided by motivation as tired legs and tired minds can easily cause mistakes to occur. Harry has a reasonably poor record over the last two seasons in bringing the team home. Mark Hughes is not a shy manager and will spend the majority of the match in the technical area. For Spurs to be able to impose themselves on the game, we need our manager to do the same, so that the players can see that he shares the passion that we all do for this club. 4th (or 3rd) place is now everything to Spurs and the players and manager have to show that they want it as much as the fans undoubtedly do.
Whilst this is a tough away match for Spurs and form going into the match is poor, the players must be motivated by Arsenal’s defeat to Wigan slightly opening the door for 3rd place. Coupled with the fact that QPR are a relegation-threatened team, I’d expect the lads to eke out a hard-fought, ugly 2-1 victory.
Ciaran (@LordFIMM on Twitter)
THFC1882 is very pleased to have Tony and Lee from the Lofty Heights Blog to preview the game in the opposing fans section this week.
Welcome to our preview of this Saturday’s game between Queens Park Rangers and Tottenham Hotspur. Firstly, I will bore you with a brief introduction from us. Lofty Heights is basically an informal blog about all things QPR. It is run by myself (Lofty) and Lee who are both mad QPR fans who travel up and down the country, week in, week out following our team and we strive to bring you something a bit different to the norm – trying to capture the entire match day experience, rather than just the report of the game.
It was started as a try it and see how it goes experiment in 2006, but the brevity of the reporting gave it huge popularity and it continues to this day. Unfortunately, due to performances on the pitch and a change in my personal life, my enthusiasm drifted somewhat and in January 2009, Lee stepped in and basically saved the blog and his dedication and persuasion, brought me back to the fold a year or so later. Over the years, Lofty Heights has gone from strength to strength and from a hard core of followers, we now receive a global audience, helped along the way by plenty of social networking through Facebook and Twitter. There is no money involved, it is simply a labour of love for our Club, Queens Park Rangers.
That’s enough about us, we look forward to Saturday’s game and make no mistake about it, we are in it up to our necks. Back in the Premiership has certainly had its ups and downs, but it seems that the lack of a good pre-season may well cost us dearly. With Mr Ecclestone and Mr Briatore trying to sell the club in the Summer, there was an understandable lack of spending and Neil Warnock had to basically work with the squad that got us promoted. We did however secure the services of DJ Campbell, Kieron Dyer, Danny Gabbidon and Jay Bothroyd.
The Tony Fernandes takeover was complete in late August. Tony would be working alongside the Mittal Family and Amit Bhatia was swiftly re-instated to the fold. With the transfer window about to close, backing was given to Neil Warnock to bring in Joey Barton, Luke Young, Anton Ferdinand, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Arnand Traore. The lack of firepower was certainly a concern but the form of Heidar Helguson was a shining light. Bobby Zamora and Djibrel Cisse were added to the squad at the end of the January window.
Mixed results and a dramatic slide down the table, saw the board make a brave decision of relieving Neil Warnock of his duties. This led to mixed reactions from the supporters and Mark Hughes was appointed mid January. It was hoped that his experience would give us what we needed to stay in the Premier League, but with just 4 Premier League wins in 15 games, the R’s are left with a nervous end to the season.
Notable highlights were obviously the win over Chelsea, which AVB continued to whinge about almost right up to the day he was sacked and the recent wins over Liverpool, Arsenal and Swansea will live long in the memory. If the worst was to happen, the home form will have to take the blame, up until the last 3 that is. But what has become a pattern, is that Rangers certainly like playing the bigger teams and with the run in including Spurs, Chelsea and Man City. It doesn’t get much bigger.
To this day, I still insist that Tottenham are the best team I have seen this year. The football played in the 3-1 victory at White Hart Lane was a joy to watch. After being 2-0 down and completely outplayed in the first half, it was pleasing to see Rangers have a go, rather than lay down for a heavy defeat. Bothroyd pulled a goal back before an absolutely stunning goal from Bale killed the game off and Spurs ran out 3-1 winners.
Our record against the big teams will give the R’s confidence ahead of Saturday’s game, in which Rangers must look for another big performance and as Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea will testify, we are certainly capable of pulling of another surprise. But with Tottenham having plenty to play for themselves, it promises to be quite a game. I will hand you over to Lee now for his look at tactics and key players….
Since Mark Hughes and the transfer window passed us by in January with the inclusion of Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora to our attacking options, we now play a 4-4-2 formation. Well that is when Cisse isn’t suspended!!
During the last four games we have adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Zamora being the workhorse up front whilst he waits for everyone to join him in support.
I would widely expect us to line up with a 4-4-2 with Cisse being drafted straight back into the attack with Zamora just behind him.
Our defence has been more settled as of late with Paddy Kenny showing the kind of form that helped him keep 25 clean sheets last year.
Kenny now has a settled back four in front of him now with Nedum Onuoha playing at right back, Taye Taiwo at left back with Anton Ferdinand and Clint Hill as the centre back pairing.
Onuoha has been more consistent recently now that he is at right back, he looked nervous when playing in the centre against Sunderland so moving him back to the right where he is solid defensively and also knows when it’s the right time to attack and when to stay back and defend.
Taiwo is a tank and loves to get forward down the left hand side. Taiwo’s crossing is superb and he has provided several assists since his arrival from AC Milan.
Ferdinand and Hill at the back has been a great partnership with Hill seemingly being the organiser and helping our back line organising themselves and this has seen us leak fewer goals in recent months. In the only game Hill missed, we conceded three goals that pretty much sums up how important Clint Hill is to our defence.
In midfield we will have Jamie Mackie on the right, former Spur Adel Taarabt on the left and in the centre will be Joey Barton and Samba Diakete.
In Jamie Mackie you are guaranteed no less than 110% effort. Mackie will run at defences and chase them down throughout the duration of the game, whilst also drifting inside and finding himself in goal scoring positions more often than a normal right winger.
Which Adel Taarabt turns up to games is a mystery to everyone, but when he turns in a performance it’s a joy to watch. With that in mind, Adel is likely to drift in and out of the game and if you were to target a side to attack you would choose that side. Adel is prone to the odd mistake defensively, having said that he is just as likely to hurt defences, as like he did against Arsenal a few weeks ago.
Joey Barton has come back into form after being booed off against Liverpool and has hit back at his critics not through the usual twitter path, but through his performances on the pitch. Joey has been leading the team like a true captain and he has been an inspirational character as he ends the season strongly.
Samba Diakete had a disastrous start to his R’s career when he was sent off in the first half an hour against Fulham for persistent fouling. Since then the Mali International has shown his quality and has put in some fantastic performances. Diakete loves the physical side of the game whilst also being very technical and loves to get forward when he has won his midfield battle.
Up front we have former Spur Bobby Zamora and Djibril Cisse. You will all know that Zamora can either be great or woeful, he will either hit the target or hit row Z. Bobby’s hold up play and has won many physical battles during his time with the R’s, however his lack of goals has been his only downfall. Djibril Cisse is probably one of the best strikers to pull on a hooped shirt in many a year, however his discipline has been a major let down for us. Cisse looks so threatening and his
movement, power and pace gives defences a lot to consider when he is there and if we can keep him on the pitch for the remaining games this season then we have a great chance of staying in this division.
The key defensively for us is Clint Hill, if he can organise the defence and help us stay tight then we have a great chance of keeping clean sheets. The game against Swansea produced our first Premier League clean sheet since the 23rd October…… against our hated rivals Chelsea!!
Adel Taarabt is our creative key, one moment of magic and Adel can unlock any defence he wants to.
Up front, if Djibril Cisse stays on the pitch he will score, the man is a work horse and will punish any mistake made by any defence.
Finally, our predictions and Lee has gone with a 1-0 R’s triumph. Myself, my head says a cracker, 2-2, but my heart is going for a 2-1 win and another 3 points towards safety.
Many thanks to Ciaran and the guys at Lofty Heights for previewing the game for us.