Saturday analysis: Arsenal show no mercy, Liverpool show no guile
QPR 2-2 Stoke
A game of two very similar halves at QPR: in both periods, the visitors swept in front then watched the hosts waste chances before equalising late on.
Harry Redknapp's side twice went behind through goals crafted by Victor Moses. Playing on the left of Stoke's 4-2-3-1, the Chelsea loanee attempted an unsurpassed 7 dribbles during the game, and in the 11th minute his cross picked out Peter Crouch, who beat Rio Ferdinand to nod down for Mame Biram Diouf to easily head home.
That didn't delight the locals, who seemed to have an issue with Stoke manager Mark Hughes on his first return to QPR since his sacking in November 2012, but Loftus was lifted just before half-time when Steven Caulker escaped Ryan Shawcross's marking to nod home Jordon Mutch's corner through a clutch of Potters on the goal-line.
Moses and Crouch had continued to combine, and in the 51st minute the Nigerian's cross was skilfully turned home left-footed by the boyhood QPR fan for his first goal since March. The home side then had the better of the game, although hardly overwhelmingly – they finished with 53.3% possession and 318 passes completed to Stoke's 280.
Where the Hoops did well exceed the Potters was in attempting, and missing, efforts on goal. Between the 45th and 83rd minutes, they had 8 attempts, 0 of which were on target – 2 were blocked, 6 wafted wide left or over Asmir Begovic's right-hand post. In all, QPR managed 21 shots on goal but only 5 on target – a 24% accuracy rate compared to Stoke's 50% (4 of 8 attempts on target).
The chief culprit was Niko Kranjcar, 0 of whose first 4 shots bothered Begovic; it's possible that the Croatian, playing at the tip of Redknapp's midfield diamond, may have been subbed had the home side not been forced into two switches through injuries to Barton and Jordon Mutch, along with the traditional introduction of Bobby Zamora. But the 30-year-old, whom Redknapp has signed four times, came up trumps in the 88th minute with a superb free-kick.
- Mame Biram Diouf’s goal was the first that Stoke have scored before half-time in the Premier League this season (in their 5th game)
- After 10 Premier League appearances without a goal or assist, Peter Crouch scored and assisted for Stoke in this match.
- The last 3 occasions that Crouch has scored and assisted in the same Premier League match have come against former sides (Aston Villa twice, QPR)
- 6 of Steven Caulker’s 8 Premier League goals have been headers.
- Jordon Mutch's last 6 assists in the Premier League have come in home games (5 for Cardiff, 1 for QPR).
- Niko Kranjcar scored his first Premier League goal since February 2012.
- Kranjcar has now scored 3 Premier League goals against Stoke, making them his favourite opponents in the competition.
- Stoke are now unbeaten in their last 5 Premier League away games (W2 D3), their best run since April 2010 (6 games) and only the second time in PL history that they have gone 5 away games without defeat.