Monday, October 22, 2012

QPR 1 - 1 Everton

QPR 1 - 1 Everton 21 October 2012

When we think of the history of Queen's Park Rangers, we might remember Rodney Marsh, Gerry Francis, Ray Wilkins, even Luigi Di Canio. We may think of the hooped shirts, of Formula 1 motor racing magnate Bernie Ecclestone's financial involvement with the club.

We may not know the name Lakshmi Mittal, reputedly the world's fifth richest person, or that in the 2005-2006 season chairman Gianni Paladini was allegedly "held at gunpoint during a match at Loftus Road by hired thugs at the instigation of rival directors" (BBC) and was "wearing a bullet-proof vest" for a period of time (Sunday Mirror).

We almost certainly will not think of the club's huge successes on the field given that they have been far and few between.

Big guns Everton are the visitors today. It is their best start to a Premier League campaign for eight years, and a win today will make it their best start ever. QPR look like they might be favourites for the drop as they have garnered only two points so far. Manager Mark Hughes has been given a vote of confidence by the owner ahead of this game, but a win for QPR against a robust though (today) Fellaini-less Everton looks unlikely.

Coleman is up in support of the Everton attack early after kick-off, but soon Hoilett picks the ball up the ball 30-odd yards from his own goal, dribbles to the Everton goal, ignores Taraabt's clever diagonal run, shoots and scores via a deflection. 1 - 0. A dream start for Hughes after only two minutes; it is QPR's second home goal of the season.

QPR are emboldened by the goal and after seven minutes, Taraabt's clever reverse pass and Traore fizzes the ball across the face with Baines doing good work to come in off the left flank to protect the ball. This incident seems important: where is the real pressure to score, perhaps indicative of QPR's scoring problem?

However the score is still one-nil and eleven-nationality QPR look lively. But then it's Everton's turn with Jelavic's free kick palmed away by Cesar and Anichebe's shot on the half turn. But Everton cannot build on their good work in midfield as they are playing with just one up front. Mirallas is more or less invisible.

1 - 1. An Everton free kick is met by a totally unmarked Distin whose header hits the post and comes back to hit Cesar's body and end up in the net. In QPR's best move of the first half, involving Taraabt and Bosingwa, the latter's cross is cleared away by Jagielka. The first half ends 1 - 1 and this scoreline reflects the play with 2 shots on target each.

46' Everton free kick, and the QPR defence must have eaten turkey sandwiches at half time as Baines runs into a huge space down the left. Mirallas seems to have a freer role in this second half, but it looks as though Fellaini is even more important to this Everton team than we first thought.

Diakite slaloms up the field, crosses to the Ji-sung Park (hardly noticed he was playing in this match up to now), but Jagielka blocks. In an underwhelming move, Anichebe is taken off by Moyes and is replaced by Naismith, who arrived from Rangers of the Glasgow variety on a free in the summer. But then the improving Mirallas plays a ball out to Pienaar who cuts off to the left, but because he has no left foot cuts back inside and the ball is taken from him by a collapsing QPR defence. [Tip for managers of Premier League teams: buy two-footed players and you will probably win the league.]

60' Pienaar picks up a second yellow for persistent fouling. Off. A third of the game to play - can we expect QPR to go on to win the game now they have one player more than their opponents? Not on the current evidence.

69' Everton are playing as well as at any time in the match, even with a man down. Mirallas is exploiting the space on the left, now vacated by the forward running Diakite.

70' In another underwhelming move, QPR boss Hughes (who played 18 times for Everton) takes off Zamora and puts Cisse on. Hoilett is QPR's best player and uses quick feet to get into a shooting position, but Howard saves low to his right. A good week for Howard who this week overtook Brad Friedel as the US men's national team's most capped keeper.

80' Hoilett's curling shot saved by Howard.

It ends 1 - 1. A dour game spoilt by the two managers, both of whom could have made more attacking choices to win the encounter. We can see why: Hughes doesn't want to lose a valuable point; Moyes is looking forward to next week's Merseyside derby. Most valuable player: Jagielka.

Peter Rodd

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