Date:Friday January 16 2009
QPR return to league duty after the disappointing last-minute defeat at the hands of Burnley in the FA Cup 3rd round replay on Tuesday night, hoping to turn a string of draws into a win (and an away win, to boot!)
Last weekend, in literally freezing conditions which had seen many league games postponed, Rangers welcomed Coventry City to Loftus Road. Coventry played about an hour of the game with 10-men but Rangers could not take full advantage of their extra man, and it was Coventry who took an unlikely lead from a well-taken free-kick by Danny Fox. As Rangers went in search of an equaliser, finesse was thrown out of the window, and it was typical "route one" play which allowed Blackstock to notch up his 12th goal of the season.
That 1-1 was Rangers fourth draw on the trot: 2-2 away to Charlton, 0-0 at home to Watford and 0-0 in the FA Cup 3rd round at home to Burnley. In fact, Rangers have not won (home or away) since 20th December, when we beat Preston at Loftus Road in a thrilling 3-2 encounter.
Derby County have a new manager in Nigel Clough and this will be his first game in charge of the Rams, as their match away to Cardiff City last weekend was postponed due to the weather. Our fixture is actually Derby`s first league game of 2009!
Clough was appointed in time to watch his new team beat Champions Manchester United 1-0 in the first leg of the Carling Cup Semi-Final ten days` ago. He will be hoping that the Rams can show the sort of form in the league that helped them defeat United, although with Derby currently sitting in 18th place in the league, on 29 points and a -9 goal difference, I am sure that Clough knows he has a great deal of work to do.
Rangers should be wary of Derby`s home record of 5 wins, 4 draws and 4 losses, particularly with our own away form still making for difficult reading (1 win, 6 draws, 6 losses). However, Paulo Sousa is convinced that, on recent evidence, Rangers away form will turn from dr
After the draw against Coventry, Sousa told the gathering media that he took full responsibility for having changed the team`s shape without giving them much of a chance to practice:
"We changed our shape and played without training very much because the weather gave us few opportunities to train. When this happens it is better to keep playing the way we were before, so I take responsibility for this."
Sousa felt that Rangers didn`t deal with Wright`s sending off cleverly enough and that a great opportunity for victory had gone begging:
"We didn`t deal with the situation as I would have liked. We have missed a good opportunity to win another home match. We worked very hard, but our finishing wasn`t as good as I expect. We had good chances, but we suffered through missed opportunities," he concluded.
After seeing his team bow out of the FA Cup, Sousa did admit, however, that he felt our form was improving especially away from home and that it would not be very long before we picked up what would be only our 2nd away victory this season:
"My team played very, very well and I am proud of each and every one of them - I am just sorry we couldn`t give our travelling fans the victory that they and we deserved.
"If we play to this quality I have no doubts that an away victory is coming. Our next two games are away and if we play like this then we will pick up points."
Nigel Clough spoke about his appointment as Derby manager, as position held many years ago by his father, the late Brian Clough. In an interview on Telegraph.co.uk, Clough denied that he wanted to finish what his father had started:
"I will do it my way. I`m not inexperienced as a manager . . . I have had over 10 years.
"It doesn't matter what level you manage at, you are still dealing with players, you are still dealing with the problems that come with players.
"That 10 years has certainly been a vital part of everything. Only time will tell if I can cope with it."
Clough spoke to the guardian.co.uk after seeing his new team just beat Forest Green 4-3 in the FA Cup 3rd round followed producing by a magnificent 1-0 victory over Manchester United in the 1st leg of the Carling Cup:
"That's probably symptomatic of what's been happening here. You could see the potential and we've got a good enough squad to work with.
"Whatever happened before is irrelevant now. Everybody is on an even footing because we've got no experience with them. But the lads who performed so well are in the box seats at the moment, and it's up to the others to impress us and for the ones who're in there to do something to be excluded from it."
Derby County Team News
Andrei Pereplotkins will definitely not be featuring for the Rams this weekend, as he has had his loan terminated and returned to his home club, Skonto FC, in Latvia. Derby will also be without Paul Connolly and Jordan Stewart, who are both serving bans. Nathan Ellington still does not appear to have recovered from a hamstring injury. Claude Davis has recommenced training, after a hamstring injury, but is not ready to feature this weekend.
Andy Todd started for the Rams against Manchester United and, by all accounts, was very impressive. He could be set to retain his place in the Rams` defence on Saturday, particularly as Martin Albrechtsen was injured and missed the Carling Cup clash.
The Rams` goalscoring hero, Kris Commons, is the "One to Watch" this weekend.
To view all the detail regarding the One to Watch Click Here >>>
The good news for Sousa is that, other than his long-term injuries Vine, Buzsaky and Agyemang, he should be able to call upon a full-fit squad. Lee Cook has recovered from the virus that kept him out of last week`s clash with Coventry and the mid-week FA Cup defeat at Turf Moor. And Wayne Routledge will be able to feature, having been unavailable for the Burnley game.
Dexter Blackstock also appears to have recovered from the minor knee injury which kept him out of the FA Cup 3rd round replay on Tuesday night. He should resume his partnership with Heidar Helguson.
The big question will be who Liam Miller will replace in central midfield. This will probably depend on which formation Sousa adopts tomorrow. What is definite is that Miller is in the squad and, having trained with the lads yesterday and today, it is highly likely that he will start, at the expense of either Gavin Mahon or Mikele Leigertwood.
Another question to be answered will be who will play in the full back positions. Sousa has shown he is prepared to change things around, playing both Connolly and Hall ahead of Ramage in the last couple of games. By all accounts, Delaney had another poor game on Tuesday night, so it remains to be seen if he will keep his place tomorrow, or not!
Since joining Rangers in a decidedly long-drawn-out transfer saga in the summer, Gorkss has gone from strength to strength. His initial games, probably due to having had little or no pre-season due to his protracted transfer, were unimpressive.
However, since returning to the side in November, Gorkss has probably been our most consistent and, at the same time, most improved player. He is steady and reliable. He wins just about everything in the air and, importantly, directs his headers meaningfully and with purpose. His clearances are assured and he rarely puts a foot wrong.
It is no coincidence that, in the ten games he has played since November, QPR have lost only twice (1-0 at Sheffield Wednesday and 2-1 against Burnley in the FA Cup 3rd round replay last Tuesday night). We have also conceded only 10 goals in that time - contributing to the Rs having one of the best defensive records in the league.
With Gorkss and Stewart building up a partnership to be proud of, Derby will have their work cut out. They will have to be very, very good to get past the "twin towers" of our central defence.
Derby County Last 5 games: W L L W W
QPR Last 5 games: D D D D L
Derby`s recent record makes for encouraging reading, although their last two wins were not in the league (against Forest Green in the FA Cup and Manchester United in the Carling Cup). In fact, if you look at their last 5 league games, they have lost 3 (away to Wolves and Preston, and home to Ipswich), drawn 1 (away at Charlton) and 1 won (against Watford: 1-0).
QPR last won in the league at home to Preston. But since then they have only managed 4 draws (away at Charlton, home to Watford, Coventry and Burnley (in the Cup)) and 1 loss (at Burnley in the Cup). The goals still seem to be hard to come by - we have scored just 4 goals in these last 5 games - although we continue to defend stoutly (having conceded 5).
Head 2 Head
Last Time Out.
Saturday 27 September 2008 - Loftus Road
Coca Cola Championship
QPR - 0
Derby County - 2 (Albrechtson (79), Villa (88))
QPR team: Radek Cerny, Damien Delaney, Damion Stewart, Gavin Mahon (Mikele Leigertwood 70), Fitz Hall, Daniel Parejo, Dexter Blackstock, Akos Buzsaky (Lee Cook 55), Martin Rowlands, Matthew Connolly, Emmanuel Ledesma (Patrick Agyemang 77).
See also: One Day In History - Derby County 1975-76.
Referee: Mr KK Wright
Assistants: Mr RH Smith and Mr ME Weaver
Fourth Official: Mr SJ Cook
Mr Keith Wright, of Cambridgeshire, will be the man in the middle for our game tomorrow at Pride Park. To get all the stats concerning the official Click Here >>>.
I wish I could feel confident that we were going to get another away win tomorrow. Despite Sousa assuring everyone, after the Burnley game on Tuesday, that we practise our finishing in training, it is our lack of goals that is costing us wins at present. I think we will score tomorrow, but not enough for a win, which is why I predict:
Sandydl`s prediction 1-1
Ranger1975`s prediction 2-1 to Derby
LeeCookFan`s prediction 1-2 to QPR
Who - Blackpool
Where - Bloomfield Road
When - Tuesday 27 January at 7.45 pm
Date:Friday January 16 2009
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