Leeds United v QPR - Preview
The R's travel to Elland Road this weekend where they will face in-form Leeds United who have not been beaten since late October. After suffering our annual loss to Watford in front of the television cameras, the R's will be hoping to show some bouncebackability by defeating the newly-promoted Yorkshiremen.
Simon Grayson's men are the form team at the moment and will no doubt be savouring a home fixture against a QPR side whose fragility was exposed last week. Leeds' recent ascent up the league can be attributed to several players but one worth mentioning is the free-scoring Argentine Luciano Becchio. The powerful centre forward has hit the back of the net 11 times and will relish playing against a recently wounded Rangers back-line.
For QPR, last week's loss didn't turn out to be the disaster it originally appeared to be. Most of the results went our way with Cardiff, Swansea and Derby all dropping points, leaving us with a nice little cushion over the Bluebirds. Saturday represents a stern challenge for the squad. If they can come away with a point then for me they have shown tremendous character and resilience to avoid successive defeats.
Neil Warnock knows he might have to mix it up over the next few games especially considering the fixture congestion. I would expect him to name the same side that started against Watford in an attempt for the players to atone for last week's errors. The one change I could envisage would be that of the inclusion of Rob Hulse.
Burnley 2 (Easton 23, Rodriguez 37)
Leeds 3 (Gradel 52, Becchio 66, Howson 85)
Team: : Schmeichel, Connolly, Collins, Bruce, McCartney, Kilkenny (McCormack 64), Johnson, Howson, Gradel, Snodgrass, Becchio (Faye 89)
QPR 1 (Smith 86)
Watford 3 (Graham 26, 48, Mutch 30)
Team: Kenny, Hill, Connolly, Gorkss, Walker, Derry, Taarabt (Orr 59), Faurlin (Clarke 69), Mackie, Smith, Helguson (Hulse 70)
Leeds United Team News:
On loan Bolton centre back Andy O'Brien could miss out with a calf injury. However if he is fit to play he will no doubt make a big difference to an otherwise leaky Leeds defence.
Simon Grayson is expected to field two strikers with either Robert Snodgrass or David Somma supporting the talismanic Luciano Becchio in attack.
Connolly - Bruce - Collins - McCartney
Gradel - Howson - Johnson - Snodgrass
Becchio - Somma
Player to watch: Luciano Becchio
Luciano Becchio has been identified by Vital QPR as the player to watch ahead of this weekend's match against Leeds United.
For the comprehensive review of the striker Click Here >>>
QPR Team News:
Rob Hulse returns having recovered from a stomach upset and should replace Heider Helguson in attack. Patrick Agyemang is expected to be named on the bench whereas Martin Rowlands is likely to miss out.
Lee Cook and Peter Ramage remain the only long term absentees.
Possible line up:
Walker - Connolly - Gorkss - Hill
Faurlín - Derry
Mackie - Taarabt (c) - Smith
Player to watch: Jamie Mackie
It might seem strange to some to pick a striker who hasn't scored a league goal since September as the player to watch but even without the goals Jamie Mackie is still vitally important to the team.
For sheer work-rate alone, Mackie is a player that we the fans had been crying out for. The fact is Mackie will always give 100 percent no matter what. The former Plymouth man started the season in supreme form scoring eight in eight but in recent months he has failed to take his chances. I'm convinced Mackie will end his drought soon and who knows maybe Leeds away in front of 25,000 could be the environment to set him off again.
Mackie started his career at Wimbledon and stayed on when the club was renamed MK Dons but soon moved to conference side Exeter. A relatively successful stay at Exeter led to league clubs such as Bristol City, Norwich, Bristol Rovers and Cheltenham Town becoming interested in his signature. Mackie handed in a transfer request before eventually signing for Plymouth Argyle for £125,000.
Mackie remarkably scored 11 seconds into his debut against Barnsley after coming on as a substitute.
He went on to make 98 appearances for Plymouth scoring 16 times before moving to QPR this summer for a rumoured £100,000. Even though the goals have dried up, at that price Jamie Mackie is proving to be a shrewd piece of business by Neil Warnock.
The Stat Attack
Queens Park Rangers: DDWWL
Leeds United: WDDWW
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 15
Leeds United: 18
LAST TIME OUT
Coca Cola Championship - 20/02/07
Leeds United 0
Team: Camp, Mancienne, Cullip, Stewart, Ainsworth, Lomas, Bolder, Timoska, Rowlands, Blackstock, Cook
Referee: Mr S Mathieson
Assistants: Mr G Hilton & Mr R Newman
Fourth Official: Mr N Smith
Scott Mathieson is the match official for Saturday's game against Leeds United and has officiated 16 games this season. His most recent game was the FA Cup tie between Carlisle United and Tamworth.
Last season Mathieson issued 58 yellow cards and 2 red cards in 31 games.
To read more see: Ref Watch >>>
One could be forgiven for thinking that the defeat against Watford could potentially send us on a bad run. However being the character that he is, I sense Neil Warnock would've motivated the players sufficiently this week so that the R's head back onto the pitch without any fear about unbeaten records and attack Leeds from the outset.
Leeds are enjoying a good run of results and will no doubt fancy their chances on Saturday. Rangers on the other hand tasted defeat for the first time this season and no-one really knows how they will react. Simon Grayson has some useful players at his disposal. The invention of Max Gradel and the physical presence of Luciano Becchio are two causes for concern. They also have a talented goalkeeper in Kasper Schmeichel and a handy box to box midfielder in Jonathan Howson.
When we've needed a big performance this season our players have turned up and produced the goods. The Cardiff match immediately springs to mind although there are many more games where we have delivered against supposedly key opposition - Sheffield United, Middlesbrough and Ipswich to name a few. Could Saturday be another one of those key fixtures where the Rangers we`ve grown accustomed to turn up and get a result? A much-improved performance is needed; we know that, the players know that, I'm sure Warnock has drilled this into the team.
2-2 Score draw. Jamie Mackie to end his goal drought.
Who: Swansea City
Where: Loftus Road
When: 26/12/10 - 13.00