Sunday, April 12, 2015

Queens Park Rangers vs Chelsea Preview

Chelsea make the short trip to West London rivals Queens Park Rangers on Sunday hoping to edge closer to a first Premier League title since 2010.

However, with QPR battling for their top-flight status, coming away from Loftus Road with three points may just prove a little more difficult than it would have, say, a few months ago.

Having gone into last month's international break on the back of five successive defeats and four points adrift of safety, you could have been forgiven for believing that the writing was on the wall for QPR as far as their top-flight survival goes.

That two-week break proved the perfect tonic for Chris Ramsey's side, however.

Rangers thumped West Bromwich Albion 4-1 at The Hawthorns last week before drawing 3-3 at Aston Villa in a game that they really should have won, with Christian Benteke grabbing an 83rd-minute equaliser to deny them.

Still, Ramsey would have happily taken four points from those two outings had he been offered them, and QPR seem to be threatening similar feats of escapism that saw Sunderland and Wigan Athletic beat the drop in recent seasons.

Two points adrift of safety, and with visits to Manchester City and Liverpool on the horizon, it remains a tall order for them to win their relegation battle, but a positive result against the league leaders would do wonders for their belief.

Recent form: LLLLWD

It would appear that nothing can stop Chelsea now. With a seven-point cushion over second-placed Arsenal, and the luxury of a game in hand, it would be nothing short of miraculous should Jose Mourinho's side fail to lift the title in May.

Having won five of their last seven league outings by the solitary goal - with the other two being draws at home to Burnley and Southampton - you could say that the Blues are limping toward the finish line, though.

They travel to the home of their neighbours fresh from a 2-1 win over Stoke City at Stamford Bridge, with Loic Remy grabbing the winner for the second time in as many matches, having come off the bench to secure a 3-2 victory away to Hull City in a game that saw Chelsea surrender a two-goal lead.

Incidentally, it is Remy who is now charged with the task of helping his team over the finishing line as he takes the baton from Diego Costa in the final stretch after the Spain striker was ruled out until May with a hamstring injury.

The trip to QPR takes on extra significance by the fact that defeat would have Arsenal and Manchester United licking their lips ahead of facing Chelsea in the coming weeks.

With that in mind, it is perhaps the defining weekend in a title race that has seen Mourinho's side lead the way since August - 231 days to be exact - but dropped points could yet hand their rivals the impetus needed to make the finale far less nervy than it should be.

Recent form: WDWDWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWDDWW

Team News
Chelsea have been rocked by the news that leading goalscorer Costa will miss Sunday's trip and the following three games, giving Remy the spotlight that has eluded him since his summer move from QPR as he prepares to face his former club.

Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas are expected to start, despite the fact that both are one booking away from sitting out games against Arsenal and United.

Much had been made over the prospect of John Terry coming up against Rio Ferdinand for the first time since Ferdinand labelled the Blues skipper the "biggest idiot" for the way in which he handled the racism row involving his brother Anton in 2011.

Ferdinand will not be involved on Sunday, however, as he joins Michael Doughty on the missing list.

Richard Dunne is available for the first time since early February after recovering from knee surgery, but a lack of match fitness may prevent Ramsey from using the Irishman.

Darnell Furlong could also return after recovering from a calf injury.

QPR's possible starting lineup:
Green; Traore, Onuoha, Caulker, Hill; Phillips, Sandro, Barton, Kranjcar; Austin, Zamora

Chelsea's possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Matic, Fabregas, Oscar; Willian, Hazard, Remy

Head To Head
Chelsea secured the bragging rights in the reverse fixture with a 2-1 victory in November but, despite the contrasting league positions of both sides, there are reasons for optimism from a QPR perspective. Although the Blues have won three of the last six meetings, Rangers managed victories in two of those - a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge in 2013 and another by the same scoreline at Loftus Road the previous year.

No comments:

Post a Comment