QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Stamford Bridge, London
November 1, 2014; 15:00 GMT
Queen Park Rangers travel this Saturday to play league pace-setters Chelsea FC, at Stamford Bridge. QPR have been staging a mini-recovery of sorts these past few weeks, with a closely fought contest with Liverpool and a well-deserved 2-0 win over Aston Villa. But meeting a side that many have already christened champions-elect in front of a notoriously partisan True Blue crowd is likely to be a major stumbling block for Harry Redknapp’s plans for staging a recovery.
Any consolation Queens Park Rangers could have drawn from Chelsea’s new-found striker injury woes has dissipated soon enough. News of Diego Costa’s faster than expected recovery, despite the extraordinary lengths Spanish national team coach Vincent Del Bosque went to, will usher in ominous looking dark clouds over the Rangers’ camp. If Loic Remy’s absence saved him and his former club some awkward moments, Costa’s return to the line-up couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Team News & Tactical Brief
Queens Park Rangers
QPR will look to feature the same starting line-up that did so well against Aston Villa. The Rangers have not had the best of starts, but Redknapp isn’t one to lose confidence in his team plan. The team will continue to line up in a variant of the 4-4-2, with Austin and Zamora leading the charge. It remains to be seen if the high-flying duo have it in them to beat Chelsea’s miserly defense.
Harry Redknapp has few troubles on the injury front, but a couple of big ones on the people management front. Rio Ferdinand is facing a ban for poor choice of language on Twitter, and will struggle to return to top flight football after his ban has been served. Ferdinand’s presence and man-marshaling skills would have come in handy against the likes of Terry and Ivanovic. Adel Taraabt’s inability to put team before self is also a big worry, and if Redknapp fails to bring him back from the cold for this game – it’s unlikely he’ll feature in the team’s long-term plans again.
Robert Green will need to be at his sharpest to keep the Blues out, and key to his success will be Sandro and Fer’s ability to soak up the pressure Matic and Fabregas will create.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-2): Green; Isla, Dun, Caulker, Yun; Vargas, Sandro, Fer, Henry; Austin, Zamora
Jose Mourinho will have to do without the services of Cesar Azpilicueta who is serving the last of his 3-match bans. Branislav Ivanovic, however, who got red-carded for a lighter offense has already served his one-match ban by sitting out Chelsea’s win over Shrewsbury mid-week. Mourinho will have little trouble picking his front man for the game with Costa reportedly fit and raring to go, even if the old warhorse Didier Drogba did a splendid job deputing in the Spaniard’s absence.
Chelsea will start the game in their 4-2-3-1 formation, with Thibaut Courtois in goal and Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic and Filipe Luis. Luis has performed quite spectacularly as Azpilicueta’s stand-in, and it will be unfortunate for him to have to return to the bench, but he will view with gratitude the additional chance he’s been given to impress his manager. Ivanovic’s return means Chelsea will once again have one of their most consistent performers back on the right flank.
Interestingly enough, although Chelsea can afford to rest either Fabregas or Matic against a relatively weaker opponent, Mourinho will most likely roll out his big guns to keep the pressure on stuttering Manchester City who are now coming off their second loss in a row. Ramires’ potential return to fitness may see him come on as a substitute for the midfielders, unless Oscar sits this game out. Expect Eden Hazard to start this game, with Willian keeping him company.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Luis; Matic, Fabregas; Oscar, Hazard, Willian; Costa
- Chelsea have not lost a single game this season – the only team to maintain that record
- This game represents the widest gap in terms of Premier League table standings so far – Chelsea 1st, QPR 19th
- QPR have conceded on average 2 goals every game this season, while Chelsea let in 1 on average
- Harry Redknapp will face a Chelsea side without Lampard for the first time since 2001
Player To Watch Out For
John Terry (Chelsea)
There’s no love lost between the captain of the Blues and the visitors. The visiting section of the crowd will be out to unsettle the captain on his home ground. Being cleared of wrongdoing has done precious little to wipe away the general notion of Terry’s guilt. Chelsea’s biggest name will need to dig in deep, ignore the chants, and just make sure he doesn’t score an own goal. Scoring a goal for Chelsea, and keeping a clean sheet would be a tremendous way to silence his detractors and Terry is the kind of personality that thrives on the big occasions.
Chelsea 3-1 Queens Park Rangers
The match is expected to be a keenly fought one with a lot of physicality on display. At Stamford Bridge, expect Chelsea to ride the wave of home support for a reasonably comfortable win, but not without a fair share of drama. Costa and Hazard will get on the score-sheet for the Blues.
Blast From The Past