The FourFourTwo Preview: QPR vs Stoke
A game where Rio Ferdinand probably won't get a pre-match gift from the opposition moments before kick-off.
- Man Utd 4-0 QPR (Prem)
- QPR 1-0 S’land (Prem)
- Burton 1-0 QPR (LC)
- Spurs 4-0 QPR (Prem)
- QPR 0-1 Hull (Prem)
- Stoke 0-1 Leicester (Prem)
- Man City 0-1 Stoke (Prem)
- Stoke 3-0 Portsmouth (LC)
- Hull 1-1 Stoke (Prem)
- Stoke 0-1 Villa (Prem)
QPR have quickly found out that woeful defending is rarely left unpunished in the Premier League. Well duh, right? Right. Someone should probably tell Harry Redknapp. For reasons unknown, the R's chief decided to stick Clint Hill at left-back with an uninterested Ferdinand alongside him against Manchester United, and then later admitted he was “expecting” a troubled afternoon after the 4-0 defeat.
“Leroy Fer is not fit,” said the east Londoner, who started Leroy Fer. “Sandro got a bit of cramp where he's not played many games,” he added, having wasted no time throwing in his new Brazilian for a debut. It’s head to table time, Rangers fans.
Redknapp’s summer business could barely be faulted – in fact, it was impressive on the whole – yet still the west Londoners look as disorganised as they did two seasons ago. For that, the 67-year-old must take responsibility.
Only Everton (10) have conceded more goals than their nine this season, and only Burnley have scored as few (1). That goal was enough to earn all three points against Sunderland, but Rangers can’t afford to defend with reckless abandon every week. Glenn Hoddle’s three-man back-line has already been scrapped, although it didn’t seem to matter on Sunday – against both Tottenham and United the R's were three down by half-time.
In Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off they come up against a Stoke side desperate for victory after a muddled start to the season. Last weekend they were sucker-punched by Leicester despite controlling the majority of the game, undone by the profligacy that plagued Mark Hughes’ early days at the Britannia Stadium. Peter Crouch, now 10 Premier League games without a goal, was the most guilty culprit.
It came after shock victory at Manchester City and winless fixtures against Aston Villa and Hull, leaving Potters boss Hughes bemused, yet surprisingly calm. “We can't moan and groan about it... but we've got to find a way at home to get back to winning ways,” said the Welshman.
Any win will do at this point, though, not least with the Staffordshire outfit having lost their last five Premier League games in London and failing to net in four of them. Will the real Stoke City please stand up?
Jordon Mutch missed the defeat at Old Trafford, as did Joey Barton (hamstring). Both face late fitness tests. Stoke’s Erik Pieters is touch and go after being substituted against Leicester. Stephen Ireland (ribs) should be back in contention, but Peter Odemwingie (ACL) and Geoff Cameron (hernia) are out.
Key battle: Mauricio Isla vs Victor Moses
Juventus arrival Isla has endured a tough start to life in England, having seen his side conceded four goals twice in his three appearances so far.
The Chilean was brought to the club as an attacking full-back, but so far hasn’t been able to exert any influence going forward – not least last weekend in the heavy defeat at Old Trafford, where he made only 8 passes in the attacking third (the most of any QPR player, nonetheless).
He’ll likely to come up against Chelsea loanee Moses on Saturday, who was arguably Stoke’s brightest attacker against Leicester. Though he was impatient with his shooting, the Nigerian stretched the Foxes with his direct running and movement inside.
With that, he completed 4/7 take-ons in good areas, all 13 of his final-third passes, starting the most attacks of any player (9) and was successful with all 4 of his attempted tackles.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- QPR 0-2 Stoke (PL, Apr 13)
- Stoke 1-0 QPR (PL, Nov 12)
- QPR 1-0 Stoke (PL, May 12)
- Stoke 2-3 QPR (PL, Nov 11)
- QPR 3-0 Stoke (Ch, Mar 08)
The two bosses have a managerial history stretching back 10 years since Hughes’ Premier League arrival at Blackburn, in which he masterminded five wins over Redknapp’s Portsmouth and Southampton sides in eight attempts. Overall there have only been two draws between the respective teams of each boss, who’ve won seven head-to-heads apiece. More interesting, though, was their transition at QPR. Hughes’ Hoops beat Redknapp’s Spurs in his first season at Loftus Road before things went pear-shaped and he was sacked in November of the club’s relegation year.
Redknapp took over and blamed his predecessor for the mess after they went down, saying: “There will be a lot of things changing here over the summer. We’ll have the players disciplined from the start. Maybe we had to pussy-foot around players when I came in because of the situation before.”
At his pre-match press conference, Redknapp continued: “Mark will take blame for what happened here – managers have to. It didn't work out for him here, but that's football. He had a difficult spell in his time here. But he's moved on now and is doing well at Stoke.” You can take that knife out now, Harry.
The pair haven’t met in a dugout since Hughes' departure from Loftus Road. Fight, fight, fight!
Facts and figures
- Stoke have won their last 2 league games against the R’s. They have not won 3 in a row since 1974.
- Stoke are unbeaten in their last 4 Premier League away games, and haven't gone 5 in a row since 2010.
Charlie Austin has scored 11 goals in his last 13 appearances at Loftus Road (inc. play-offs).
It feels like only a matter of time before Stoke start getting it right. If they show a little more patience than last weekend, they should see off a QPR team still finding their way. 0-2.