Premier League | Loftus Road | Sat 16 Aug | 3pm
Harry Redknapp's heroic return to the top flight...
- QPR 0-1 PAOK (F)
- Athlone 0-2 QPR (F)
- Shamrock 0-4 QPR (F)
- Southend 0-0 QPR (F)
- Leyton Orient 2-2 QPR (F)
- Stuttgart 1-2 Hull (F)
- Hull 2-1 Trencin (EL)
- Trencin 0-0 Hull (EL)
- Barnsley 1-1 Hull (F)
- York 0-2 Hull (F)
QPR are back in the Premier League, and this time they mean business
It goes without saying that the Rs will want a better start to their top flight adventure than last time around, when they were humbled 4-0 on their own patch by Owen Coyle's mighty Bolton on the opening day of 2011/12.
It also goes without saying that Rangers are almost completely unrecognisable from the side of three years ago, with only three of the starting XI that day still at the club (Clint Hill, Adel Taarabt and Alejandro Faurlin), and none of them likely to start on Saturday.
Rangers boss Harry Redknapp hasn't been quite as busy in the transfer market as many would have expected, but the three players he has brought to Loftus Road this summer all bring something to the table.
He has strengthened his defence by signing two of his old charges. The vastly-experienced Rio Ferdinand will keep the things well organised, while Steven Caulker will add more steel to the back-line. Yet the best deal could prove to be the one that saw Jordon Mutch swap South Wales for west London. The former England Under-21 midfielder will bring an extra spark of creativity to the midfield, and the 22-year-old looks a steal at £5 million.
The problem last term was goals - the Hoops were the 13th highest scorers in last season's Championship - but the lingering presence of France international Loic Remy should address that.
Still, Hull may fancy their chances of catching the west Londoners cold, given their season has already started. The Tigers have already played home and away Europa League qualifying ties against Slovakia's AS Trencin, so should benefit from a little more match sharpness.
The Tigers' summer acquisitions haven't been quite as high-profile as their London rivals, but Robert Snodgrass and Tom Ince should help Steve Bruce's side pack more attacking punch, but there looks like being more tinkering to come.
Shane Long's surprise £12m departure for Southampton looks good business for Hull, but it's in matches like Saturday's - against sides without much pace at centr-eback - where the fleet-footed Irishman can do most damage. It's possible they may miss him almost immediately.
There should be QPR debuts for Ferdinand, Caulker and Mutch, but last season's loanees - Taarabt and Remy - are unlikely to feature. Jermaine Jenas remains sidelined with a long-term knee injury.
As well as the Hampshire-bound Long, Hull will be without forward Yannick Sagbo, who will serve a two-match suspension for being an idiot on the internet.
Key battle: Steven Caulker vs Nikica Jelavic
Caulker was brought to Loftus Road on the basis of being one of the few shining lights in Cardiff's horrendous 2013/14, but he really struggled last time he faced Hull and Jelavic. The Croatian scored twice in a 4-0 victory for the Tigers, with Caulker failing to provide the kind of solid defensive cover on which his reputation has been built. He made just one block and didn't make a single tackle throughout the match. He did make 5 clearances, but that was still way down on his season average of 8.6 a game. Caulker and his new/old manager will be hoping he can keep a better lid on his opponent this time around.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- QPR 1-1 Hull (Ch'ship, Apr 11)
- Hull 0-0 QPR (Ch'ship, Jan 11)
- Hull 1-1 QPR (Ch'ship, Apr 08)
- QPR 2-0 Hull (Ch'ship, Nov 07)
- Hull 2-1 QPR (Ch'ship, Jan 07)
"I'm delighted that Premier League football is back at Loftus Road, the fans deserve that," Redknapp said earlier this week. "Staying in the Premier League is the aim. It's a hard league, the most competitive in the world."
Bruce, meanwhile, is confident his new wide-men can make a real impact this season. "There is no question [Ince and Snodgrass] have the ability to make a difference with their pace and guile," the Geordie tactician said earlier this month.
Facts and figures
- QPR have taken just 1 point from 6 opening weekend matches in the Premier League (D1 L5).
- Hull have not won a Premier League game since securing their spot in the FA Cup final in April.
- QPR signing Rio Ferdinand last conceded a foul in the Premier League on New Year’s Day 2013. He has made 26 appearances in the competition without being penalised since.
More FFT Stats Zone facts
The Hoops to do what they did best last season - eek out a narrow win. 1-0.