Premier League | Stamford Bridge | Sat 1 Nov | 3pm
The Shaun Wright-Phillips memorial service.
- Shrewsbury 1-2 Chelsea (LC)
- Man Utd 1-1 Chelsea (Prem)
- Chelsea 6-0 Maribor (CL)
- Palace 1-2 Chelsea (Prem)
- Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal (Prem)
- QPR 2-0 Villa (Prem)
- QPR 2-3 Liverpool (Prem)
- West Ham 2-0 QPR (Prem)
- So’ton 2-1 QPR (Prem)
- QPR 2-2 Stoke (Prem)
Since Remembrance Day 2012, Chelsea have only lost two league games at Stamford Bridge. In that 37-game spree on home soil, the Blues have dropped only 22 points of a possible 111 – and, somehow, three of them were against a doomed QPR side that inexplicably walked away from the Bridge in January 2013 with only their second win in 20 games. It would also be their last for two months.
That it was Wright-Phillips who grabbed the winner on 78 minutes made it even worse; the former Chelsea man’s only league goal that season, and a player who has started only four league matches for QPR since. “He is here,” Harry Redknapp helpfully confirmed to reporters this week. “He's had one or two opportunities to go out on loan which he hasn't fancied.”
Only two of the players who featured in that game for the R’s have a remote chance of doing the same on Saturday, but even Clint Hill and Nedum Onuoha are both largely overlooked these days in Redknapp’s new-look side, the latter recently injured.
But despite securing their first win since August 30 with Monday’s 2-0 triumph over Aston Villa, the promoted west Londoners once again make the short trip down the A3220 (they probably won’t do this, to be honest) as overwhelming underdogs. That’s because Chelsea are... well, Chelsea. And they’re looking rather good this season, despite the best efforts of their fringe players to mess it all up at Shrewsbury in the League Cup on Tuesday night.
Jose Mourinho criticised his second string for not giving him selection problems at Greenhous Meadow, but it matters relatively little when his first-choice elect are playing so well.
Diego Costa is expected to return after recovering from a hamstring problem and virus, but Mourinho couldn’t resist a dig at Spain coach Vicente del Bosque in midweek anyway. “Diego has the hamstring [injury] because he played two matches in three days when he was not with us,” quipped the Blues chief.
Over at Loftus Road, the fog could be clearing. Three points and a clean sheet were welcome for QPR after a week where football wasn’t top of the news agenda.
Redknapp seems to have finally washed his hands of the Adel Taarabt fiasco, saying: “I wouldn’t hesitate to put him in the squad.” But he probably won’t, after the Moroccan missed an under-21s game on Tuesday.
Here’s a good ‘un to finish: the last time a team in the Premier League relegation zone went to the home of the league leaders and won was September 2001 (Southampton beating Bolton 1-0). Since then, the table-toppers have won 24 of their 26 home games against a side in the relegation zone (D2). Good luck, Rangers.
Costa's back to resume his personal goal battle with Sergio Aguero up front, which means Didier Drogba can take a breather after playing 180 minutes in three days. Ramires is also back after a groin injury, but the same problem will rule out Loic Remy for two to three weeks and John Obi Mikel is also sidelined.
For QPR, Jordon Mutch and Joey Barton could make their first appearances since September 20 and October 5 respectively, while Onuoha is available again after missing Monday’s win with a hampered hamstring. There'll be no Rio Ferdinand, though, whose derogatory comments about a man's female parent have earned him a three-game ban. Another step closer to retirement.
Player to watch: Eduardo Vargas (QPR)
The Chilean snapped up on loan from Napoli was a coup for Redknapp & Co. in the summer, and is now beginning to show just why his parent club paid over £11 million for his services from Universidad de Chile.
Vargas grabbed his second assist of the season in Monday’s win over Villa, 1 of 2 chances he created at Loftus Road in an industrious performance. His defensive contributions were also noted (4 interceptions, 5 tackles attempted), after providing support for busy compatriot Mauricio Isla - another impressive performer.
The 24-year-old will aim to cause damage at the other end on the counter for QPR here, though, as he did against Liverpool. There’s no doubting that the R’s have a player suited for the battle ahead.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Chelsea 0-1 QPR (PL, Jan 13)
- QPR 0-0 Chelsea (PL, Sep 12)
- Chelsea 6-1 QPR (PL, Apr 12)
- QPR 0-1 Chelsea (FAC, Jan 12)
- QPR 1-0 Chelsea (PL, Oct 11)
Mourinho and Redknapp have met on seven occasions, but the latter is yet to even get a draw against his Portuguese adversary. Jose won all five of the league meetings with his Chelsea side against Harry’s Southampton and Portsmouth sides, before the duo clashed in the 2010/11 Champions League quarter-finals when Spurs pitted their wits against Real Madrid. The first leg went badly for Redknapp, with an early Emmanuel Adebayor opener soon followed by a red card for Peter Crouch en route to a 4-0 drubbing in the Bernabeu. Real won the return leg 1-0 at White Hart Lane to set up a semi-final with Barcelona.
Facts and figures
- Harry Redknapp has lost just 1 of his last 6 Premier League clashes with Chelsea (W2 D3).
- Cesc Fabregas has been involved in 9 goals (1 goal, 8 assists) in 9 league games for Chelsea.
- QPR have won just 1 of their last 18 away trips to rival London clubs in the Premier League (D3 L14).
More FFT Stats Zone facts
QPR are yet to convince that they can organise themselves appropriately against teams with real firepower. Chelsea don’t lose at home, and nor do they concede. 3-0 to the hosts.
Back 3-0 at 6/1 with Bet365. Odds right at time of publication