QPR v Aston Villa - Match Preview
Tomorrow sees Harry Redknapp take charge of the R's at Loftus Road for the first time. The Super Hoops face a young, hard-working Aston Villa side, who will be firmly up for the challenge of dampening the spirits of a newly resurgent QPR. Redknapp has urged the fans to make Loftus Road a fortress again and I believe tomorrow's atmosphere will be electric, as the fans look to welcome their new manager.
Rangers were much improved defensively against Sunderland and managed to secure a valuable clean sheet, which will breed confidence throughout the side. QPR will need to be solid again to keep Villa at bay but I really think this game is there for the taking. The buzz coming off the terraces will surely inspire the players to perform well and I could see us attacking Villa from the offset. Also, QPR's defending from set pieces was much improved in midweek and Rob Green was impressive when he came on and he will take great confidence from his performance and clean sheet.
Paul Lambert's Aston Villa are improving week by week and their young players are maturing and developing into a steady team. They don't have a very strong squad in terms of cover but do possess some talented individuals. Christian Benteke looks a real find and is very powerful in the air. Stephen Ireland has the skill to unlock a game depending on which mood he is in and the pace of Gabby Agbonlahor could be effective away from home, should they look to hit us on the counter. Ashley Westwood looks to have settled well since his inclusion in the side and possesses a fine passing game. The R's centre midfielders will need to stop him and Barry Bannan playing, in what should be a congested midfield area on a tight pitch. Overall, they are a side that could avoid relegation but I think they will be there or there abouts all season.
Team: Cesar (Green), Bosingwa, Nelsen, Hill. Traore, Diakite (Park), Mbia, Granero, Mackie, Taarabt (Wright-Phillips), Cisse.
Aston Villa 1 (Benteke)
Team: Guzan, Clark, Stevens (Lichaj), Baker, Lowton, Westwood, Bannan, Agbonlahor, Holman (Ireland), Benteke, Weimann (Albrighton).
QPR Team News:
Julio Cesar is out with a groin injury sustained against Sunderland. Rob Green should start.
Possible line up:
Bosingwa - Nelsen - Hill - Traore
Mbia - Diakite
Taarabt - Granero - Mackie
Player to watch: Rob Green
I was really pleased to see Rob Green perform well against Sunderland. He was dropped rather quickly from the side after a couple of disappointing performances but his replacement Julio Cesar has been excellent. The club was criticised for having two keepers join this summer but now we can all see the value of having two high quality keepers, as Cesar looks set for a spell on the sidelines. In midweek, Green made two very smart saves, one which could've resulted in a head injury and the other which was a fine reflex save. Green must've taken great confidence from that performance and if the fans welcome him onto the pitch tomorrow that should further improve his confidence. I think there will be other outfield players to keep an eye on tomorrow, for example Adel Taarabt could capitalise on inexperienced defenders. Stephane Mbia could dominate a lightweight midfield and Jamie Mackie's work rate causes most defenders grief. However, personally I think it will be interesting to see how Green plays in front of the Loftus Road faithful again.
Aston Villa Team News:
Villa captain Ron Vlaar is a doubt with a calf problem. Erich Lichaj is expected to replace the injured Enda Stevens.
Possible line up:
Lowton - Clark - Baker - Lichaj
Albrighton - Westwood - Bannan - Holman
Benteke - Agbonlahor
Player to watch: Christian Benteke
Christian Benteke has been identified as the player to watch ahead of today's match against Villa.
For Vital QPR's comprehensive review of the strikerClick Here >>>
The Stat Attack
Queens Park Rangers: DLLLD
Aston Villa: WLLDW
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 22
Aston Villa: 17
LAST TIME OUT
Premier League - 1/02/12
Aston Villa 2 (Bent, N'Zogbia)
QPR 2 (Cisse, Warnock go)
Team: Kenny, Young, Taiwo, Ferdinand, Onuoha, Derry (Ephraim), Barton, Wright-Phillips, Mackie, Hulse (Macheda), Cisse (Smith)
Referee: Howard Webb (South Yorkshire)
Assistants: Mike Mullarkey (Devon) & Darren Cann (Norfolk)
Fourth Official: Mike Jones (Chesire)
Howard Webb is the match official for tomorrow's crunch game with Villa. Last season Webb issued 164 yellow cards and 5 red cards in 50 games.
I think this week in training, Redknapp would've focused a bit more on attacking movement, after managing to secure a first away clean sheet in 14 months. It's amazing to think that Redknapp did more in terms of improving the defense in 48 hours, than Hughes did in 11 months. Give Harry a few weeks and I think our flair players will start to shine. Aston Villa will be a tough test but with the atmosphere rocking at Loftus Road, coupled with the new manager effect on the players, I'm finding it hard to look past a home win. I don't wish to sound over-confident as Villa do have excellent attacking options in Benteke, Bent and Ireland but if Ron Vlaar is out then that could be a huge boost for us and possibly tip the balance in the R's favour. If QPR score first, then I think they will go on to win comfortably and secure that elusive first win of the season.
2-0QPR win. Cisse and Nelsen to score.
Where: DW Stadium