The FourFourTwo Preview: Southampton vs QPR
Redknapp’s expendables face Koeman’s untouchables.
- Arsenal 1-2 So’ton (LC)
- Swansea 0-1 So’ton (Prem)
- So’ton 4-0 Newcastle (Prem)
- West Ham 1-3 So’ton (Prem)
- Millwall 0-2 So’ton (LC)
- QPR 2-2 Stoke (Prem)
- Man Utd 4-0 QPR (Prem)
- QPR 1-0 S’land (Prem)
- Burton 1-0 QPR (LC)
- Spurs 4-0 QPR (Prem)
Southampton are handling this crisis of theirs pretty well. Second in the league, the only team yet to concede at home and five wins on the trot including a League Cup win at Arsenal – that’s one hell of a crisis. Suez was a mere contretemps in comparison.
In fact, the supposedly fatal bedding-in period lasted all of two matches, as Ronald Koeman and his new signings settle while last season’s players show their departed brethren that, just like Destiny’s Child, they are survivors.
Meanwhile, Dejan Lovren’s Liverpool are haemmorhaging goals and Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw can’t get first-team football. The grass is always greener.
Talking of greener grass, Harry Redknapp should enjoy the drive to Southampton. The man who left Portsmouth for their arch rivals (before going back again) wrote in his book about driving to his first day at St Mary’s to this reaction from Pompey fans: “The nearer I got, I could see the banners: JUDAS, SCUM, and a few other phrases.”
Of course, Saints supporters hate Harry too (though as we discussed recently, everyone does). Perhaps they just loved him too much to see him go, as ‘Arry – born, ironically, in Poplar – wrote in that same tome: “They [Portsmouth fans] treated me like God. Maybe they liked me so much that my leaving hurt far more intensely than the departure of another manager would.” Yeah, that’s it.
Anyway, Saints fans needn’t fear a defeat to Redknapp this weekend. QPR are resembling a cinema summer blockbuster: expensively put together to much skepticism yet somehow even worse than you expected. They really are The Expendables – in fact, Randy Couture is in defence this week.
At least the R’s scored in last week’s 2-2 draw with Stoke: before that, they’d netted one goal in five games. Going back to 2012/13, they’re goalless in five Premier League away games. And they’re still to score from open play this season. We would not recommend putting this in your BTTS accumulator.
Even though it was only 18 months ago, none of the scorers in the two clubs’ last meeting will feature this time around, with Gaston Ramirez, Loic Remy and Jay Bothroyd playing in Hull, Chelsea and Thailand.
Injury-wise, QPR have midfielder woes: Redknapp has confirmed that Joey Barton and Jordon Mutch are both out with hamstring problems, while Niko Kranjcar and Sandro face late tests. Bring back Jermaine Jenas! Rangers are also without Alejandro Faurlin (knee) and Adel Taarabt (fat). Still, Steven Caulker has been cleared of stealing cheese at a Tesco Express in Weybridge, so that's something.
The hosts can’t call upon James Ward-Prowse, who begins a long-term absence with a fractured foot. Fellow crocks Jay Rodriguez and Sam Gallagher are also catching up on daytime TV. Defenders Toby Alderweireld and Maya Yoshida are injury doubts.
Key battle: Graziano Pelle vs Rio Ferdinand
In his defence, Ferdinand hasn’t been getting the greatest of protection from his midfield or full-backs. However, he has performed well below expectations in west London. His skill on the ball has been evident but not his experience off it: against Stoke, for example, the centre-back found a team-mate with 42 of his 45 passes, including some searching long balls, but let Peter Crouch get the better of him for both of the Potters’ goals, being dominated in the air for the first before allowing the giant too much space for the second.
He let James Chester get ahead of him for Hull’s opening-day winner, played Juan Mata onside for one of Manchester United’s goals and was caught out of position by Spurs. A harsh critic – i.e. us – would say he’s been either wholly or partially responsible for half of the goals QPR have conceded.
Pelle, on the other hand, has shown he is deadly in front of goal and useful in the build-up as well, creating chances on top of finishing them. Ferdinand will need help on the left from Armand Traore (or, er, Clint Hill) to ensure he isn’t dragged out of position by willing runner Shane Long. But the 35-year-old also needs to prove his mind is in the present rather than the past (his new book) or the future (a burgeoning media career), lest Pelle ‘merks’ him, assuming that’s still a thing.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Saints 1-2 QPR (PL, Mar 13)
- QPR 1-3 Saints (PL, Nov 12)
- Saints 0-0 QPR (Ch, Mar 09)
- QPR 4-1 Saints (Ch, Sep 08)
- Saints 2-3 QPR (Ch, Feb 08)
Redknapp, whose car broke down on the way to midweek training for the purposes of symbolism, has said Rangers’ injury woes are down to late acquisitions, griping that they began the season with just 12 players. By FourFourTwo’s count it was double that, but we won’t quibble. Koeman is adapting very quickly to English football: not only are Southampton flying, he’s backing his players for England call-ups and using horrible nicknames. “I think he’s ready and an option for the national coach,” said the Dutchman of right-back Nathaniel Clyne. “I’m very happy to have Clyney in our team.” Clyney? Yowser.
Facts and figures
- QPR have had more shots from outside the box than any other Premier League team this season (27).
- QPR are the only side yet to score an open play goal in the Premier League this season.
- Last weekend Victor Wanyama became the first Kenyan player to score in the Premier League. Players from 91 different nations have now scored.
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Six of the last eight games between this pair have resulted in away wins. Not this time. 3-0 to Southampton.