The only way through for QPR now is the hard way. After failing to earn points on the road trip to West Brom and Wigan's upset over Arsenal, the R's remain in the relegation fight. Fellow cellar dwellers Bolton have two games in hand and QPR face three of the top six teams in their remaining four games.
Despite the difficulties and the gloom hanging in the air, this is the time to get behind the squad and push through to another year in the top flight. Tottenham are coming to Loftus Road Saturday, and it will need to be a fortress once again if the Hoops are to stay up. Here's a quick preview of the match this weekend.
Djibril Cisse will return from his second suspension in his short career with the club. He's the squad's most dangerous scorer when he manages not to get sent off, and will need to be on form from the whistle in this match. His return will likely disrupt the formation that has been relatively successful in recent weeks, and may push either Jamie Mackie or Shaun Derry to the bench as he and Bobby Zamora pair up out front. Zamora struggled against the Baggies as the lone target man, and the more agile Cisse's work opposite him should create some work for Spur's defence. The critical battle will be against Ledley King, whose form has slipped this season. Look for Cisse to take advantage of that for full effect. The team will also need Adel Taraabt to get back to distributing instead of trying to beat three men on at once on his own. If they can return to the tighter possession and energetic pace they put in against Swansea and Arsenal, Cisse and Zamora will find holes in Tottenham's defence to exploit.
Spurs have a deep squad, equally capable on fast attacks and patient marches up the pitch. Keeping Adebayor out of goal will be a top priority, along with finding a way to stop Gareth Bale's left side blitzes. In the first meeting this season Tottenham's ability to push four and five men up together overwhelmed the R's, though their defence has been upgraded since that match. Nonetheless, with smart playmakers in Modric and Parker supporting the likes of Van Der Vaart and Adebayor, the defenders have their work cut out for them. If any of the regular threats are out, Jermaine Defoe and Louis Saha can fill in and wreak their own brand of havok on the back four. Any team can be beaten as Wigan proved this week, but QPR have to raise their game to new levels if they are to force a positive result. Spurs are still battling for the last Champions League spot and will be looking to shake off their ugly defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup.
How QPR can win:
Patience. Spurs are a team built to counter attack and possess the firepower to bury a team quickly. They also have trouble keeping their shape and have flopped on some winnable games that should have been put away this season. While this is a very tough match-up, there will be opportunities that QPR can take advantage of. The only way that can happen however is through the same combination of possession and steady work up the pitch when it's available that saw them overcome Arsenal. They also have to take a few chances and get more creative - the display against West Brom was too timid and predictable as the scoreline reflected.
How Spurs can win:
Constant offense. Simply put, they have skilled players everywhere and can nick goals from the best of clubs. QPR is not the best of clubs. The R's will have to defend at the top level and avoid hasty clearances and half-thought out passes in their half if they hope to shut this Spurs team down. With all the trouble QPR have had scoring this season, Tottenham will be confident that a goal or two is all they'll need to see three points. Spurs will also be quick to pounce on any mistakes, which the Hoops have shown a propensity for this season. If they fall into bad habits of giving the ball away easily and tackling weakly in their end, this could turn into a rough outing.
Prediction: A thunderous Loftus Road, some gutsy performances and a few lucky breaks might just see QPR through...to a draw.
Come on U R'sss!
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