Previewing: Stoke City
Sunday 2nd March 2008
After picking up a useful away point at Oakwell, Rangers will be looking for some home comfort in the television game at home to promotion challenging Stoke City. The Potters have been on fire of late and have set the division alight with some scintillating displays. This will undoubtedly be a stern test of Rangers recent home form in front of the Sky Cameras.
'I was satisfied with my players."
'It was a difficult match, and we have to accept the outcome."
'Neither side managed to make their chances count, although I feel we probably had the better opportunities."
De Canio continued:
'Barnsley had some chances on the break. They seemed to play a counter-attacking style, and in some ways looked more like the away team than the home team."
'For large parts of the game we commanded the play.'
De Canio also spoke about the late Tykes penalty appeal:
'If you're going to award penalties for that sort of challenge, you'd see three a game,' he said. 'I saw my player definitely win the ball.'
Queens Park Rangers Team News:
Rangers look set to continue with the midfield partnership of Mikele Leigertwood and Martin Rowlands with Gavin Mahon still rated as doubtful owing to a knee injury, suffering minor medial ligament injury.
Rowan Vine looks set to be reintroduced to the Rangers attacking line against the Potters, after being left on the bench for the trip to South Yorkshire.
Damion Stewart will certainly have a problem in breaking up centre back pairing Fitz Hall and Matthew Connolly, after the pair were in good form to keep the Tykes goalless.
Rangers may also look to switch around the wingers with Gigi De Canio having to pick two from four, Akos Buzsaky, Hogan Ephraim, Angelo Balanta and the returning Gareth Ainsworth.
Player to watch: Martin Rowlands
Another decent midfield display against Barnsley, has earnt the player this weeks accolade. He really has been resurgent under new manager Gigi De Canio, and is looking better than ever since he signed for the R`s under Ian Holloway. His array of passing really has been a useful asset in recent weeks and his goal contribution from midfield has been ok.
Rowlands has scored 29 league goals in 152 league appearances following his £45k move from Brentford in 2003.
Stoke City Team News:
The Potters can call on new signing Chris Riggott from Middlesborough, but he will have a job on his hands to dislodge the impressive Ryan Shawcross and Leon Cort who have been in good form of late, forgetting the defeat away at Preston.
However with Cort landing heavily on his ankle and having to be replaced by Andy Wilkinson, he may not return in time for the fixture, handing Riggott his first start.
The Potters may look to reshape the side going into the clash at Loftus Road after some quick games in succession and defeat midweek. Paul Gallagher could be pushing for a starting place along with John Parkin.
Player to watch: Liam Lawrence
The midfielder has been electric in recent games scoring a succession of scintillating strikes to whet the appetite of even the most anti-Stoke fan.
Lawrence has scored four in the last five games, including a brace against Rangers relegation rivals Scunthorpe.
Liam started his career at Mansfield Town where he scored 35 league goals in 136 league appearances. He also played his first game against the R`s for the Stags, competing in Rangers 4-0 demolition of Mansfield at Field Mill. Lawrence also missed the crucial penalty in the League Two Playoff Final against Huddersfield, chipping the ball down the middle and had to watch as it rebounded off the bar.
Lawrence however, started the new season in the Championship when he made a £175k move to Sunderland, where in one of his first games for the Black Cats, he played his part in a 2-2 draw with Rangers at the Stadium of Light. He helped Sunderland achieve promotion to the Premier League in his time in Sunderland, and saw them relegated in the subsequent season under Mick McCarthy. He made 73 appearances scoring 10 league goals for the Black Cats.
New manager Roy Keane was installed at the Stadium of Light with new ideas, and every player was told to prove themselves. Lawrence did himself no favours when a video released by The Sun, involving Liam in a sexually explicit act alongside fellow team-mates, only served to anger the Irish manager who keenly looked to offload the player.
He found his new home in Stoke after a successful loan spell with the Potters scoring 2 goals from 8 games in his brief spell. He also played his part in Stoke`s 1-0 victory over Rangers at the Britannia Stadium.
The loan deal was made permanent in the January transfer window of 2007 and Lawrence hasn`t looked back since with 15 goals in 52 starts for the Potters.
A man to watch for the R`s and the full backs but be on their guard to stop this man from providing service to the Potters fr
Match Facts & Stats
Rangers have only lost 1 home game in 7, that was the recent disappointing home defeat to Burnley. Under the guidance of Luigi De Canio, Rangers have only failed to score twice at on home soil, making them a formidable opponent in W12.
In their last 5 league games Rangers have lost 1, drawn 2 and won 2. Starting the month in excellent form beating both Southampton and Bristol City, but now they are without a win in 3 and will be looking to address this problem against high flying Stoke.
Stoke will be hoping that their recent loss against Preston is a blip and not a trend. Before that City were in outstanding form, on a 5 game winning streak scoring 13 goals in that run. However only one of those wins was away from home, and they will be looking to extend home performances on the road.
In their last 5 games the Potters have won 4 and lost 1, as mentioned above, and their home form is something to behold. However away from Home, City have only won 1 in their last 6. With a lot of high scoring affairs, most notably the 4-2 over Wolves.
Historically Rangers have had the better record over the promotion chasers, winning 13 games to Stoke`s 8, with the teams drawing 6 times. Once Rangers appeared to be City`s bogey team with four successive 1-0 wins in recent years, the balance is slowly being redressed by the Potters.
Last time out
6th May 2007- Loftus Road
QPR 1 (Rowlands 6)
Stoke City 1 (Sidibe 84)
Rangers Team: Cole, Timoska, Shimmin, Stewart, Bignot, Rowlands, Bolder (Bircham 83) Bailey, Smith, Nygaard (Jones 88) Blackstock (Furlong 76).
Last time out
27th November 2007- Britannia Stadium
Stoke City 3 (Cresswell 5, Lawrence 19, Cort 77)
QPR 1 (Vine 63)
Rangers Team: Camp, Mancienne (Malcolm 20) Stewart, Timoska, Barker, Rowlands (Bolder 81) Leigertwood, Buzsaky, Sinclair, Vine (Nygaard 79) Black
Referee- A. D`Urso
Assistants - J Devine & M McDonough
Fourth official - R Lee
Mr D`Urso has presided over some mixed results for the R`s, his first in September 1997, as Rangers lost 2-0 at Home to Wolves, then later that season he oversaw Rangers` 5-0 thrashing of Middlesborough, handing out a red card to talkSPORT pundit Andy Townsend.
The following season he saw Rangers beat Walsall 3-1 but lost at Home to Watford 2-1, sending off Danny Maddix.
D`Urso then didn`t referee the R`s until 2001, when he oversaw another home game against Watford, this time a 1-1 draw.
Following Rangers relegation he refereed a home game against Cambridge United infront of a stunning 18,071, a record in recent years, the home crowd couldn`t spur the team to a goal in a 0-0 draw. In 2004 he oversaw a 1-1 draw at home to Luton and sent off Paul Furlong in a 0-0 draw at Home to Brighton. D`Urso was in attendance to see a customary Kelvin Davis howler as the R`s coasted past Ipswich at Portman Road 2-0, and also refereed the R`s at Loftus Road on sky in a 3-1 defeat by Crystal Palace, Marco Reich in deadly form there.
Later that season he saw the R`s draw 1-1 at Sheffield Wednesday, and the next season watched the R`s defeat Southampton and Luton by the odd goal, 2-1 and 3-2 respectively, and seeing a rare Ray Jones goal in the former.
So far this season he has seen the R`s get trounced live on Sky, 5-1 away to West Bromwich Albion, costing John Gregory his job. But I think it`s fair to say, we`ve met before!
In 31 games this season he has handed out 72 yellow cards and 2 reds, quite modest by D`Urso`s previous standards, must be mellowing in his old age. Most recently he sent off Bournemouth defender Shaun Cooper in their 2-0 defeat at Home to Doncaster.
This is an extremely difficult one to predict, I always predict a tight game against the Potters, they are never an easy opponent, however judging by recent results and defensive performances, I`m not sure how close this will be, so that`s why I predict:
Boxer`s Prediction: 3-2 QPR
For all the latest match odds click on www.williamhill.com Vital QPR has also posted the odds up.
Who- Coventry City
Where- The Ricoh Arena
When- Wednesday 5th March 2008: 7:45pm