QUEENS PARK RANGERS

v

LIVERPOOL

Loftus Road, London

March 21, 2012 – Ai??2000 GMT

***

Don’t take the title too literally. It is merely derived from Joey Barton’s recent tweets regarding Suarez’s diving. Of course, we all know that Barton has never – never ever – indulged in any kind of theatrics during his career. These two – two of the most influential players in their respective teams – will go head to head on Wednesday night with no love lost between them.

After securing a future trip to London’s Wembley on Sunday, the Reds make a visit to the capital city to face a QPR side that are serious contenders for relegation. Kenny Dalglish’s men sit in 7th place, 10 points off their dream destination – Ai??the fourth spot – and any more lapses this season will mean that the club’s already slim chances of qualifying for the Champions League will evaporate completely.

Queens Park Rangers have been going through turbulent times of their own, having gone six matches without a win. Mark Hughes, a manager who left Fulham claiming that QPR is a more ambitious club, is ironically struggling to keep Rangers’ premiership boat afloat. Rangers occupy the last relegation spot, a point behind Blackburn Rovers. The recent positives for QPR include draws at Villa Park and holding Everton to a stalemate at home.

They have been narrowly beaten by Bolton and Wolves due to late goals in recent matches, which has had major repercussions on their league position. Hughes’s side were also beaten by Blackburn at Ewood Park. At the Reebok, though, QPR were unfortunate to have a blatant goal disallowed that did not please Mark Hughes and could yet be one of the most significant impacts of goal-line decisions all over the world, if QPR are relegated.

Liverpool have put their hat-trick of League defeats firmly behind them, but it won’t be far from typical if they were to slip up at Loftus road. After convincingly defeating Everton in the League through a Steven Gerrard hat-trick, Liverpool did well to grind out a narrow win against Stoke City in the FA Cup.

Luis Suarez has recently shown his eagerness to sign a new contract, which has come as a major boost for the club at a time when speculations around his transfer had grown enough to unsettle everyone at the club. However, Dirk Kuyt admits he may be forced to leave if he isn’t offered more first team opportunities; whether Dalglish reacts to that is to be seen.

While Liverpool go in as favourites in this match, it has the perfect recipe for a home win. Liverpool have struggled to overcome minnows all season long and Queens Park Rangers have produced their best performances against the top sides. And Mark Hughes, an Old Trafford legend, will surely do everything possible to triumph over his Anfield counterpart.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Queens Park Rangers

Mark Hughes has a good mix of players at his disposal and QPR should not be in such a precarious position in the League. However, injuries have affected QPR’s season. Creative midfielder Adel Taarabt will be missing with a hamstring injury, while Frederico Macheda – on loan from Manchester United – is also out with an ankle injury.

Perhaps, the most missed player is Heidar Helguson, whose immense aerial abilities caused havoc in any and every defence before a groin injury sidelined the QPR striker. But Bobby Zamora was bought from local rivals Fulham to fulfill his role, along with ex-Liverpool player Djibril Cisse.

Hughes will not alter his defence and play Anton Ferdinand and Clint Hill in the centre, while Armand Traore and Nedum Onuoha will be the full-backs. Joey Barton will start on the right side of midfield, while Shaun Wright-Phillips will start on the left.

In the absence of Adel Taarabt, Hughes will start Shaun Derry and Samba Diakite in the centre of midfield, while strikers Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora will line-up at the head of the pack.

Zamora’s physical strength has troubled Liverpool in the past and he’ll no doubt be relishing the challenge. Cisse will be looking to do well against his former club and is likely to link-up heavily on the left side with Wright-Phillips. Joey Barton’s role will be crucial if Queens Park Rangers are to succeed in this match. First, his set pieces will be a major weapon and second, QPR’s right flank will need to do a lot of defending with Downing and Enrique bombarding forward down Liverpool’s left.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-2):Ai??Kenny (GK); Onuoha, Ferdinand, Hill, Traore; Barton (c), Derry, Diakite, Wright-Phillips; Zamora, Carroll

.

football formations

Ai??.

Liverpool

Kenny Dalglish’s line-ups are a bookie’s dream. You just cannot guess them, but it isn’t something that bodes well for Liverpool. Dalglish needs to scrap rotation and play his best line-up over and over again.

Apart from Lucas, who had been ruled out for the season late last year, Liverpool will still be missing Daniel Agger through cracked ribs suffered in the Wembley final. Glen Johnson is on the road to recovery, but won’t be hurried back due to Kelly’s brilliant performances.

QPR present a very physical challenge for Kenny Dalglish, which should ensure a start for Andy Carroll up front. The big centre forward has done well in the last two matches to hold up the ball, link-up with midfield and divert attention of defenders from Suarez. Stewart Downing will start down the left wing, with Jay Spearing and Steven Gerrard in the centre.

The right flank will always be up for grabs, but Dalglish’s favourite pick – Jordan Henderson – will probably get the nod ahead of Dirk Kuyt. There is no change expected in Liverpool’s defence with Martin Kelly and Jose Enrique flanking Carragher and Skrtel.

Steven Gerrard’s presence in midfield has turned around Liverpool’s fortunes. Even though the skipper is far from his world-class best, he is still heads and shoulders above the rest on the field. In Jay Spearing, he has found a wonderful and reliable partner to do the dirty work. Martin Kelly and Stewart Downing are expected to provide width down the flanks, while Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez provide an excellent variation up front.

Probable Starting Line-upAi??(4-4-2):Ai??Reina; Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique; Henderson, Spearing, Gerrard, Downing; Carroll, Suarez

Key Match Facts

  1. QPR are without a win in 6 matches, and only 1 win in 16 League matches.
  2. QPR have dropped more points (15) from winning positions than any other club.
  3. This match will see the top 3 players in the list of players who have attempted the most number of shots without scoring – Taarabt (63), Wright-Phillips (58) and Downing (52).
  4. QPR have been hampered by red cards in their recent matches. They hold the record – with Bolton – for most red cards this season – 5.

TheHardTackle’s Player to Watch Out For

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

Steven Gerrard perhaps represents Kenny Dalglish’s control button in a match. In the absence of the midfielder, the midfield lacks stability. In his presence, the whole team seems to perform a notch or two higher.

What works in favour of Gerrard in this team is the exceptional movement of players like Suarez, Downing, Henderson, Spearing and Kelly. The Liverpool skipper intelligently uses this movement to not only pick out passes, but make spaces for himself.

TheHardTackle’s Prediction

QPR 1-1 Liverpool

Queens Park Rangers are desperate for a win and have been unlucky in recent times to not pick up one. Liverpool, on the other hand, are still trying to find consistency. If Mark Hughes can keep all 11 men on the field throughout the match, they do stand a good chance of picking up points against their illustrious visitors. The name ‘Liverpool’ does not instill the same fear it used to a few seasons back and Dalglish knows he needs to bring that back. TheHardTackle predicts a stalemate at Loftus Road.

TheHardTackle’s Blast From The Past

This is the 1990 FA Cup quarter-final when Dalglish was the manager.

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One Response to “QPR v Liverpool – Preview: Can Luis Suarez Dive His Way Around Joey Barton?”

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  1. Aditya Sharma says:

    I love Joey Barton.. much in the same way I love Balotelli, Mourinho, and have now started liking Sckzesny (can’t spell it, the Arsenal keeper). They add an added layer of entertainment to the proceedings, and no one should take what they say or do too seriously.
    On a more serious note, this is an important match for Liverpool, where they have a lot to lose. If they win, no would be overly surprised; but if they lose, it’s going to be very demoralising. Because despite all the excellent players in the QPR side (Barton, Cisse, SWP et al), they are a relegation team. And yes, even my money’s on Gerrard being the one who steers the Reds to a win here.