|Ferdinand snubs Terry|
So on to the match. The European Champions were greeted with an unsurprisingly hostile reception from the QPR faithful, with Messrs Terry and Cole subject to a relentless afternoon of unflattering rhetoric from the R's fans and just as last season, everyone associated with Chelsea couldn't get away from Loftus Road quick enough. I don't think they enjoyed themselves in W12 today.
The international break, normally an unsettling element to a season, turned out to be a blessing as Mark Hughes and his staff had an extra week to work with his transfer window acquisitions. Hughes didn't waste this time and got the game plan and team selection spot on for this fixture, opting to play 4 4 2 again and keeping AJ and Zamora together up front.
Chelsea as you would expect were dangerous at times but the R's coped and actually played with no fear in a confident and diligent manner and were always comfortable taking the ball forward and pushing Chelsea back. Playing this way took masses of pressure off the back four, which has been an ongoing problem and kept the vociferous and fervent R's supporters racking up the decibels at Loftus Road.
Chelsea had a couple of penalty appeals turned down. Terry and Nelson in the kind of tussle you see dozens of times every game and Hazard looking for a spot kick as SWP lunged in, none of which convinced Referee Mariner. Andy Johnson was more than a handful for Chelsea as we saw why he was once held with such high regard before unfortunately suffering an injury that saw him replaced by an eager and obliging Mackie. This was after Fabio had also picked up a knock that saw him replaced by Onuoha with excellent Bosingwa switching to the right. The enforced changes highlighted strength of the QPR squad as the changes didn't upset the game plan too much and we still had the likes of Taarabt, Hoilett, Cisse, Dyer and Green to choose from.
Julio Cesar had an excellent debut proving himself early on with a very good save from Hazard plus two or three other important saves during the course of the game. With a commanding presence he seemed to instill confidence in to a back four that looked more comfortable playing in front of him and he looks like he is going to be a solid keeper for QPR. The R's continued to push forward with Park notably missing our best chance heading a great cross from Granero into Cech's hands and Zamora taking to long to finish after beating Cech to a misplaced back pass. This left Hazard to miss one last chance for Chelsea blasting high over the bar from eight yards.
In summary this was a very very good QPR performance. The R's actually edged the possession stats against the European Champions and Chelsea were never able to completely settle and never got forward in numbers as they like to do, mostly because they had to do most of the work further back up the pitch as our four man midfield won that battle today. QPR's ball retention, distribution and the work rate was arguably the best its been since promotion and more in keeping with our ambitions. Today, finally, QPR comfortably looked like and played like a good premiership side.(against quality opposition) Had it not been for the two forced substitutions in the first half I think Hughes would have utilised some of our options on the bench for the last 15 minutes and we could have got all the points. It is clear that we have turned a corner and this side is going to get better and better. So will the results. The midfield with Granero and Faurlin are quality, if the midfield functions, the defence will sort it self out, particularly with the influence of Nelson. Playing higher up the pitch at a higher tempo suits us and I like watching it.
True to form, QPR don't always get the credit they deserve and this was blatantly obvious on Match of the Days pitiful misrepresentation of the game. Needless to say it was not a fair reflection of the way in which QPR played. Still the more this goes on the longer the odds will be when backing QPR, because this QPR side are going to win lots of games this season. (Back QPR to win at Spurs on an Asian Handicap at +1 to +1.5)
We haven't got it right yet and there is still lots to do but there has been significant progress. This team has belief and is now playing with no fear and have overcome a massive psychological barrier. You can feel the excitement the players have, being part of the QPR revolution. This is QPR though, so the ride will be bumpy. Buckle your seat belts, we're going for a ride and its going to be a good one.
Blog to you soon.
The Bush Ranger