Cardiff City v QPR - Preview
Cardiff City Stadium
QPR make the trip down to Wales to face promotion rivals Cardiff City in a mouth-watering match that could see the R's all but seal the Championship title. Should Cardiff win, Rangers could be sucked back into four-way spat between Norwich, Reading and Cardiff for the automatic promotion places, although it is still very much in QPR's hands, who only need one win to clinch promotion. With so much riding on the match, it promises to be one to remember and it could have a huge influence on how the automatic promotion places shape up.
QPR will be slightly disappointed with the 0-0 draw against Derby last Monday, knowing full well that they missed a great chance to all but confirm their place in the Premier League. Nonetheless, it was a point gained and the R's kept a second clean sheet on the bounce which will do the defence a world of good going into this crunch match. QPR will feel that because their destiny is in their hands the majority of pressure will be on Dave Jones' men on Saturday.
The Cardiff fans will be in full voice and will be sure to make it a hostile environment for the away side. One thing is for sure, Cardiff need to win if they want to regain second spot after Norwich destroyed local rivals Ipswich 5-1 which should mean a much more open game than against Derby.
The space could allow messrs Wayne Routledge and Adel Taarabt to cause some damage against a relatively average Cardiff defence. Their attack on the other hand is anything but average. The Bluebirds boast some of the finest strikers in the league, all of which bar maybe Jon Parkin would walk into most bottom half Premiership sides. Craig Bellamy, Jay Bothroyd, Peter Whittingham and Chris Burke will all cause problems and will be the biggest test of the season for the R's defence.
Team: Kenny, Orr, Hill, Gorkss, Connolly, Derry, Faurlin, Taarabt (Agyemang), Smith, Routledge (Miller), Helguson (Hulse)
Cardiff 3 (Olofinjana, Bothroyd, Whittingham)
Team: Bywater, McNaughton, Keinan, Quinn (Blake), Samuel, Whittingham, McPhail (Koumas), Burke, Olofinjana, Bothroyd (Parkin), Bellamy
Cardiff City Team News:
Jay Bothroyd has recovered from a groin injury that he picked up in the Sheffield United game. Former R's loanee Tom Heaton is also available for selection.
McNaughton - Keinan - Quinn - Samuel
Burke - Olofinjana - McPhail - Whittingham
Bellamy - Bothroyd
Player to watch: Craig Bellamy
Craig Bellamy has been identified by DanielQPR as the player to watch ahead of Saturday's match against Cardiff.
For Daniel's comprehensive review of the striker Click Here >>>
QPR Team News:
Neil Warnock has a defensive headache on his hands with Fitz Hall vying for a place in the starting line-up. Warnock is a big fan of Hall's but it would be hard to justify dropping Matt Connolly after two clean sheets in a row.
Possible line up:
Orr - Gorkss - Connolly - Hill
Faurlin - Derry
Routledge - Taarabt - Smith
Player to watch: Alejandro Faurlín
In recent months the Argentine midfielder has been in superlative form for the Super Hoops. In a potentially open game against Cardiff, Faurlin will be given room to dictate the play and expose the Cardiff back four with his expansive range of passing. Should Cardiff squeeze similar to Derby on Monday then like Taarabt, Faurlin's influence is diminished somewhat. On the other hand, Faurlin's defensive side has improved a lot this year. Alongside Shaun Derry, he has excelled at winning 50-50 challenges and is also strong in the air. Faurlin and Derry will be more than a match for Olofinjana and McPhail in the centre of the park.
The Stat Attack
Queens Park Rangers: WWLWD
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 32
LAST TIME OUT
Coca Cola Championship - 27/11/10
QPR 2 (Gorkss, Taarabt)
Cardiff 1 (Bellamy)
Team: Kenny, Walker, Hill, Gorkss, Connolly, Derry, Faurlin, Mackie (Agyemang), Smith, Taarabt (Clarke), Hulse
Referee: Mr L Mason
Assistants: Mr W Smallwood & Mr P Thompson
Fourth Official: Mr D Phillips
Premiership ref Lee Mason is the match official for Saturday`s game and has officiated 28 games this season. His most recent game was the Arsenal`s 3-1 victory over Blackpool.
Last season Mason issued 106 yellow cards and 7 red cards in 35 games.
To read more see: Ref Watch >>>
Cardiff`s best chance of winning the game will come if they successfully exploit the wide areas. QPR aren`t blessed with pace in defence and I could see our full-backs struggling against two in-form wingers in Whittingham and Burke especially if Hill and Orr push up too far. At Loftus Road Kaspars Gorkss was more than a match for Jay Bothroyd and providing the R`s set a deep back line they shouldn`t be susceptible to the counter attack. I think it will be an end-to-end match with both teams really pushing for the win. I do however think QPR will play more defensively and look to frustrate Cardiff and force them into a tactical change.
A point would suit Rangers and as disappointing as it would be to lose, it wouldn`t be a complete disaster with Neil Warnock`s men only needing one win from their remaining games. Cardiff will be fired up for the game and will not settle for a point. Psychologically a win for the Bluebirds could be the catalyst for them finally getting over the last hurdle after several years of near misses. I think the game could be similar to Monday`s match against Derby but with the roles reversed. Although Warnock sets his teams out to win, I think the R`s will look to squeeze the game and hit Cardiff on the break.
0-1 A very entertaining game but Rangers edging it in the second half.
Who: HULL CITY
Where: LOFTUS ROAD
When: 25/04/2011 - 1500