Venue: Loftus Road
Date: Saturday, 15 September
Kick-off: 15.00 BST
Normally, we get internationals out the way and can just look forward to getting on with the Premier League. For us though, since it’s QPR for us this weekend, we’ve had to wade through the obligatory ‘handshake’ nonsense. Could any of us actually care less? I mean, given its QPR, a dig in the shins would probably be a more appropriate start to the proceedings anyway.
Of course, we lost 1-0 in this fixture last season albeit finishing with 9 men against their 12 and by the time the return saw us batter them 6-1 at Stamford Bridge, John Terry was facing a court case. He’s come out the other side of that now though but whilst the affects of the trial might have grounded JT, that’s something QPR couldn’t ever be accused of. In spite of doing no more than avoid relegation last season and amassing just the one point so far this season, West London is apparently theirs! Bless.
Going into this afternoon’s clash, all talk seems to have focused on what happens pre-match and Mark Hughes says “There’s a lot of debate every time we have a game against Chelsea. The one thing I’ll say – and I have my own views on the handshake, and I’ve raised them at Premier League level before the season started – we’ll be guided by the Premier League and we’ll respect the handshake if that’s what we’re told needs to happen. Apart from that, I don’t really want to go into any depth on it, because we’ve got a really important game and I’m conscious of the fact, almost always when we go up against Chelsea, the issue of a handshake seems to cloud everybody’s mind and the focus is taken from a game which on paper is a great Premier League game, and I think the focus should be put back on that. But, as I said, if the Premier League says the handshake goes ahead, so be it. We’ll have to wait and see [if Anton Ferdinand refrains from the handshake]. Each of the players has a mind of their own and they’ll make their own decision. It’s unfortunate they’re put in the situation where it’s in the public domain. I’ve got my feelings on the handshake and the people in the Premier League know my view on that.”
Roberto Di Matteo meanwhile, says “We are going to respect the protocol and set a positive standard for the millions of people that are going to watch us all over the world, and make people focus more on the football side than other issues. The Premier League is being watched all over the world now and we have to set a good, positive standard for everybody that is watching us and the handshake is just a part of it. It is part of the respect campaign as well and hopefully the game will be played in good spirit. We would like both sets of supporters, especially our fans, to support their team and hopefully there will be no incidents. Football is here to unite people rather than divide people.”
For QPR, Samba Diakite is still unavailable (personal reasons) and Stephane Mbia misses out with an unspecified injury sustained on international duty for Cameroon. Anton Ferdinand is set to return from a shoulder injury, so we’ll have to see what sort of job the medics have done when it comes to the chip he was carrying.
For Chelsea, both John Terry and Ashley Cole (both ankle) should start although Marko Marin (hamstring) still isn’t ready to make his debut.
QPR (from): Green, Cerny, Murphy, Ferdinand, Onuoha, Bosingwa, Hill, Nelsen, Fabio, Traore, Derry, Park, Granero, Park, Dyer, Taarabt, Hoilett, Faurlin, Wright-Phillips, Ephraim, Mackie, Johnson, Zamora, Cisse.
CHELSEA (from): Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Luiz, Cole, Bertrand, Mikel, Romeu, Lampard, Ramires, Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Moses, Piazon, Torres, Sturridge, Turnbull.
QPR 1-0 CHELSEA (23rd October 2011)
To get the statistical stuff out of the way, the bad news is we’ve won just 2 from 17 top-flight games at Loftus Road and four of our last five meetings in all competitions have ended 1-0. The good news is we know they’re open to a battering, having embarrassed them 6-1 at Stamford Bridge last season. Even better is the fact they’ve failed to win any of their three games so far this season and have conceded 9 goals whilst we’ve achieved maximum points. So, as long as we get any nonsense out of the way before kick-off, we should be showing them exactly why West London is far from theirs.