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Match Preview: QPR vs Fulham: west London derby With turning point implications

Both teams come into this matchup with something on the line.  Both teams could potentially look back on this game as the end of a slide or the continuation of one.  But whoever comes out of this game will know they have confidence on their side.  They just have to get there first. QPR are [...]

Both teams come into this matchup with something on the line and could potentially look back on this game as the end of a slide or the continuation of one.  But whoever comes out of this game will know they have confidence on their side.  They just have to get there first.

QPR are still searching for win number 1 on the campaign, but many are pointing to subtle improvements, especially under ‘Arry Redknapp.  How dubious would it be for Fulham to allow Rangers their first win of the season? Whoever gives it up will surely have the joke on them.

Side note before I get into the preview: what a great job Harry Redknapp has found for himself.  It’s a win-win for him! Consider both extreme outcomes for QPR this season:

1) He somehow, miraculously, saves QPR from relegation thanks to finally a run of good form, and he’s a hero, keeping them up in the Premiership despite inheriting the worst run of form to start a season ever.  He’s a hero, everyone involved in that team loves him, and it could potentially push him back to bigger jobs (Arsenal once Wenger is done? Etc).

2) They continue to flounder, finish bottom of the table, and all the blame goes on Mark Hughes for sending that team into oblivion and sticking them with a massive wage bill.  You have to think that team will do very well in the Championship given its roster, and he would have the opportunity to lead them back to the promised land.  It’s not Harry’s fault, because he inherited such an awful situation.

How can you top that? Plus he probably has a ton of money to work with still. Heck of a find by Mr. Redknapp. OK, back to the topic at hand.

State of Fulham:

The win at Craven Cottage over a Newcastle squad in dire straits was great, but the momentum needs to be continued.  There are some very winnable fixtures in the near future, including last week and this week, and Fulham would do well to begin a run of good form now to make us forget about the poor run prior to Monday.

Win convincingly Saturday, and the road to recovery begins.  Sliding right into the January transfer window with 4 wins in 5 matches is a very real possibility.  Fulham currently sit alone at 13th, a mere 6 points from 4th.  4 wins in 5 matches (already beat Newcastle, QPR Saturday, then Liverpool away, Southampton home, and Swansea home) would rocket the Whites up the table.  Isn’t 8th place heading into January a very real possibility? After August’s deadline, if I told you Fulham would be in 8th with a chance to buy more players, wouldn’t you have hugged me teary-eyed? I think yes. Not counting my chickens, just setting goals and expectations.

Also, being QPR’s first win of the season in December is not an option. So don’t even think about it.  That outcome is out of the question.

On the injury front, three players will probably miss out.  Mahamadou Diarra was injured against Spurs, and while he was on the bench Monday (Jol said he could have played 20-30 minutes if needed), he received 2 injections Thursday and probably will sit out.  Simon Davies is still “not nearly fit” according to the manager, and Bryan Ruiz is halfway through his recovery without issues but still needs 2-3 more weeks.

State of QPR:

Yikes.  Good ol’ Harry is back at it, handed the defibrillator and asked to shock Rangers until it heart begins beating again.  Whether he can give the club a pulse again remains to be seen, but some analysts say they see marketable improvement.  Hasn’t turned into viable points yet though.

Martin Jol sees it, and isn’t taking Rangers lightly:

“I can remember from even before Harry was there when they were quite close to winning. They’ve had seven draws and could have had wins, because I saw a couple of games where they were very unlucky. They are in a difficult situation, but there are a lot of games to go where they can get a lot of points on the board so you can never write them off.”

Injury news for QPR sees Ji-Sung Park off with a knee injury for a few weeks, where he joins Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora, who are both long term absentees.  They will get Julio Cesar back from injury, although Robert Green has impressed in his absence, so it remains to be seen who will be put in front of net.

Stats:

-The last English top-flight club to not record a win in its first 17 league matches: Bolton in the 1902-1903 season (over 100 years ago!).

-QPR has 7 goals in their last 9 home games.

-The last 6 meetings between these two clubs have ended in 5 Fulham wins and 1 draw.

-The club really needed Brede Hangeland back.  While he hasn’t been in best form, and some people (some people = me) have been calling for his sale before he completely loses value, he’s been vital at the back statistically.  The EA Sports Player Performance Index has Hangeland at a whopping 77 interceptions on the season.

-Steve Sidwell’s transformation to a defensive midfielder has gone brilliantly.  The EA Sports Player Performance Index has Sidwell at 51 tackles won at a 60% success rate.  That’s a solid rate for someone who’s put to work so much.  He traveled 6.71 miles (or 10.8 km) against Newcastle.

Prediction:

This has to be a victory for Fulham, and nothing else will satisfy.  In fact, a draw will no doubt leave both clubs highly disappointed, with quite a lot at stake.  I’ll give this a 2-0 victory to Fulham, as there’s really no indication that Rangers will get their first win, until they prove they can…well…win. And prove they can score too.

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