Queens Park Rangers abysmal performance kept them on the brink of relegation as they were battered 6-1 by Chelsea.
After dispatching Spurs with a gritty and ambitious performance, there were high hopes for the struggling R's to repeat that spirit at Stamford Bridge. With Chelsea's busy workload, injuries and their sights set on loftier targets, there was some hope that QPR might have an opportunity to force a positive result. Instead the Derby was over before it started as QPR showed up without an ounce of fight in them, and played one of their worst games this season. The result is a continued bit of slow torture for the supporters as the club makes its way down the table and back to the Championship.
With Djibril Cisse back and ready to play, spectators were scratching their heads at the team formation. Mark Hughes went with the 4-5-1, leaving Cisse wide on the left and Zamora alone in the centre. Cisse has proven he can do two things very well for QPR - get sent off and score goals. He's prolific - scoring again in garbage time to scratch one back - and should be the focal point of the offence. Instead, he was left to wither on the far side where he predictably contributed very little. When the formation shifted after the game was well out of hand he showed some promise and ultimately put one in. Regardless of the strategy to start the match, the failure to adapt was the real trouble, as Hughes should have recognised that his team was getting nothing out of it. They didn't threaten Chelsea's net or appear capable of doing so, and something should have been done to respond to the events that were unfolding. Instead the shape remained and the lacklustre effort flowed from it.
Even if the players had been deployed differently, it looks like they would have been in for a rough day at the office no matter where they were playing. After the emotional highs of recent weeks at Loftus Road, it is difficult to fathom how the same players, in the same live-or-die circumstances, can produce such varying results. Chelsea just beat Barcelona away to progress to the Champion's League final. To say that QPR were going to have an easy time against them is silly, and if they'd lost a tight 0-1 game I think most supporters would have accepted that. Instead what fans got was a team that looked defeated from the kickoff - which they essentially were as Sturridge put one in the net forty seven seconds into the match. Yes, Lampard blocked Kenny's view - but Sturridge had too much freedom and easily buried the open shot. It would become a familiar refrain as the defence played terribly - poor marking, missing tackles and generally being too slow on the ball. Chelsea have been on a great run and continued with that confidence, but they were never troubled but QPR to defend their goal or earn territory in the midfield. By and large QPR played a soft game, not chasing balls down or getting physical to gain possession.
There is plenty of blame to go around, from Buzsaky's awful showing to Zamora's invisible man act out front. Without Diakite, Shaun Derry struggled to fill his role and the midfield suffered. Traore should have come on earlier to add some pace and creativity there but the reactions from the manager were stilted. It's a disappointing result with so much on the line and only two matches left. Stoke at home now becomes the biggest game of QPR's recent history, but even a victory there may not be enough to save them. They will need some help from Tottenham to knock off Bolton midweek and keep things close at the bottom. The R's goal differential took a big hit in this game as well, which will only complicate the survival fight. They must take all three points from Stoke and then go to Manchester on the last day of the season to battle for their lives. Unfortunately with the away form the squad has shown this season, it's hard to see anything positive coming from that trip.
There is a glimmer of hope left, but the situation is dire and the consequences of this defeat will likely be reverberating in W12 for some time.
Come on you R'ssss!
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