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QPR vs Liverpool: Five talking points

Goalkeeper Julio Cesar of QPR dives in vain as Daniel Agger (L) of Liverpool scores his team's third goal

Goalkeeper Julio Cesar of QPR dives in vain as Daniel Agger (L) of Liverpool scores his team’s third goal

Liverpool beat Queens Park Rangers 3-0 at Loftus Road on Sunday evening in a match that will go down as one of their easiest victories of all time. Getting off to an incredible start, Luis Suarez ghosted through the R’s defence to give the Reds the lead with just ten minutes played. Just six minutes later, Stewart Downing would play an excellent ball to release the Uruguayan, who then scored after his attempted pass to Sterling was deflected back to him by the home defence.

Daniel Agger would also get into the festivities, heading the ball into the net of a Steven Gerrard cross after a short corner from the Reds. The match was done and dusted there, with just twenty-eight minutes played, as QPR failed to show any fighting spirit whatsoever in a game that marked Harry Redknapp’s 600th game in charge of a Premier League side.

Five major talking points from the game were:

1) Suarez is the heart of Liverpool

After a brief patch of games in which he didn’t score goals, Liverpool’s best player Luis Suarez bagged a ridiculously easy brace at Loftus Road on Sunday. He was able to run rings around a completely uninspired QPR defence, and toyed with the home side for much of the game. Surprisingly he didn’t complete his hat-trick, fluffing quite a few chances to do so.

Suarez has scored 16 goals this season, 13 of them being the league, just one goal behind top scorers Michu and Robin Van Persie. The much-maligned striker has been sensational this campaign, probably the best in the league. Liverpool desperately needs Suarez to sustain this form, as the man has scored a whopping 42% of their goals this term

With the Reds rumoured to be in the market for a top striker in January, it is essential that they find a striker who’s compatible to play with Suarez that is a quality poacher who can feed off Suarez’s movement and finish many of the chances he creates, unlike majority of the Red forwards.

2) QPR are relegation favourites

 A pensive Harry Redknapp looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool

A pensive Harry Redknapp looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool

A rather obvious point, given the torrid season the West London club has experienced. Despite buying a boatload of players in the summer, Rangers have been rooted to the bottom spot with just one victory. Against Liverpool, the home side had a toothless outing and were quickly dominated right from the get go. Suarez may be one of the best in the league, but QPR should have done a far better job of marking and heckling him out.

After the scoreboard read 3-0 and Liverpool took their foot of the pedal, the R’s failed to show the steely grit and determination needed to fight back. They barely pressured Liverpool into losing the ball like Stoke did, resulting in the Reds playing the game at a pedestrian pace. A lot has been said about Redknapp’s miracle work at Portsmouth in 2005-06, and that was only achieved because the Pompey players showed the heart, character and desire to stay in the league, unlike the R’s. Only Ryan Nelsen and Jamie Mackie seemed to care about the team, with both putting in decent shifts.

They next travel to Chelsea, which might turn into a rather unpleasant outing. QPR really need to step up their act as team, as they have the necessary quality to do so. After all, Harry Redknapp is just a manager, not a miracle worker.

3) The league needs better scheduling

The second-half turned into a complete snooze fest, as Liverpool took their foot of the gas and  seemed content with knocking the ball around, and frayed forward rather slowly. Even QPR seemed content to let the Reds knock the ball around, with only Adel Taraabt and Mackie threatening the visitor’s stranglehold, apart from a rare spell of QPR domination at the start of the second half.

This was the third of five fixtures that Liverpool will play in a span of two weeks, which is something that takes a heavy toll on squads, and also saw Jose Enrique forced off the field with a hamstring tear that is said to take three to twelve weeks to heal. We saw Newcastle crumble against Arsenal after 70 minute due to fatigue, and we also saw two top-flight teams essentially throw away an entire half of action because they didn’t want to risk injuries. It is understandable why the teams would want to do this, to protect their long term interests.

The FA would be best served by introducing a much needed Christmas break, like many foreign leagues do as it allows players to recharge their batteries, knock off niggling injuries and spend some quality time with family. It would also help the English national team for summer tournaments, as it has been proven beforehand that a short break has done wonders for sides such as Germany and Spain in summer tournaments.

4) A fast start goes a long way

The Reds made a quick start against Stoke City on Boxing Day, only to see the Potters grab back the initiative in a matter of minutes. Although QPR represented a far easier test than Stoke, the fast start seemed to crumple and destroy the QPR resistance. Suarez ran circles around Clint Hill from the get go, and his two goals killed off the QPR momentum, before Daniel Agger added the final touch to it.

The Reds could have had a lot more in the first half and many predicted them to leave Loftus Road with a similar scoreline to the one seen at the Emirates last night. The intensity of the team was evident from the start, and Suarez once again served to infuse the side with his relentless work-rate and energy before dialling it down in the second half.

Such a start would also do wonders at Anfield, where the Reds have struggled all season long. A 2-0 lead, coupled with a ferocious Anfield atmosphere will easily break most teams, making Liverpool’s job far easier in the process, and it is a much better proposition than the constant worthless domination Anfield has become accustomed to.

5) Consistency has to be Liverpool’s New Year resolution

Despite the heavily documented defeats to Stoke and Aston Villa, December was actually a decent month for the Merseysiders. They won five of their seven league games, picking up 15 points out of a possible 21. While it is no shame to lose at the Britannia, Liverpool really should’ve ended the month with 18-19 points. This consistency will bode well for the Reds and something that they will look to continue in 2013.

They meet struggling Sunderland at Anfield on January 3rd, a game they simply must win, as all the contenders for the coveted Champions League spots are winning as well. It is certainly an achievable task given the nature of the league. After Sunderland, the Reds travel to Old Trafford to face heated rivals Manchester United and it will do wonders to Liverpool’s confidence to go into that game on a winning streak.

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