QPR Travels to Stamford Bridge in Need of PointsBy: phil | April 28th, 2012
In a vital fixture, Queens Park Rangers travel across town to take on Chelsea FC in a Sunday showdown. Given today’s results, the Rs would love to pick up a point (or three) in the battle to avoid relegation. This will be a hotly-contested fixture for a few reasons, not the least of which are the Anton Ferdinand / John Terry situation and Chelsea’s feeling that they deserved a point out of our last match (which QPR won, 1-0, after two red cards issued against CFC). First, though, let’s take a look at today’s action:In the biggest shock of the day, Wigan Latics beat Newcastle 4-0. Granted, Wigan had played well against tough competition lately, but I doubt anyone had a feeling they’d beat Newcastle by 4. With that result, Wigan jumps past QPR in the table: they new sit on 37 points after 36 matches.
Fellow strugglers Bolton didn’t do quite as well, but they did manage to pick up a point, with Kevin Davies’ second goal salvaging a late draw. This is a match I would have loved to see Sunderland win. But, at this point in the season, Sunderland is one of those clubs without a whole lot to play for: nowhere near European spots, but completely safe from relegation. That’s a part of life in the Prem. Bolton now sits on 34 points after 35 matches, exactly the same as QPR in both categories. We hold a guge lead in goal differential, though, if we were to find ourselves tied at the end of the season.
Finally, Aston Villa lucked into a draw as WBA missed out on what should have been a penalty kick after a hand-ball in the area. Villa has looked incredibly poor recently, to be honest: they’ve now gone 8 straight Premier League matches without a win. The draw helps them a bit, though, as they now sit on 37 points after 36 matches – the same line as Wigan, and 3 points ahead of Bolton, QPR and Blackburn (with those latter 3 clubs all having a game in hand over Villa and Wigan).
So – QPR is going to need points from our last 3 matchs: at Chelsea, home vs. Stoke, and at Man City. I wouldn’t want to say exactly how many point we’ll need (it would depend mostly on Bolton’s run-in and the Blackburn-Wigan match next week), but a draw tomorrow at Chelsea would be good. As far as the match: I’ll note that the FA cancelled the normal pre-game handshake, so as to not stoke the flames of the Ferdinand-Terry situation. I don’t want to say too much about that, other than to say it seems like all parties sort of wish it was behind them. But aside from that, Chelsea clearly sees this as a revenge game. The 1-0 loss not only involved a few questionable calls, but also began the Blues’ mid-season slump. Currently sitting in 6th, they need this one just as bad as we do.
For a line-up, Taarabt is suspended after being sent off late last week. This means that we’ll probably start SWP-Zamora-Mackie up front, with Barton the boss of the midfield. It’s possible that Diji Cisse` gets a start, but more likely that he’ll be first forward off the bench. On the Chelsea side, the Blues are coming off a draining midweek win over Barcelona, so I expect a bit of squad rotation for them. David Luiz is still out, Gary Cahill is hurt, so their back 4 will probably be some combination of Cole, Ivanovic, Terry, and Bosingwa. If SWP and Zamora can get a bit of space between them, we have a good chance at an early goal. That’s probably what we’ll need, because our odds of keeping Drogba and company out of the net for 90 minutes are pretty low.
For QPR fans in North America, this one is on Fox Soccer Channel live. Coverage starts at 8:30 AM. And check back when it’s over for a recap and video highlights. As always, stay tuned to our twitter feed at http://twitter.com/QPR_offside to be kept up to date on all things QPR.