QPR prepare to meet familiar Burnley foe in unwanted replay - full match preview Monday, 12th Jan 2009 20:28
QPR travel to Burnley on Tuesday night for the third meeting of the season with the Clarets in a replay nobody really wanted to play.
Burnley v Queens Park Rangers FA Cup Tuesday January 13, Kick Off 7.45pm Turf Moor, Burnley
Good God I was starting to worry – it had been nearly 20 minutes since we had last played Burnley and I was worrying the Clarets might have gone out of business. The season before last, again thanks to an FA Cup third round replay, we had four matches and a postponed game with Luton Town in the course of about five months.
I noticed on Saturday that Martin Rowlands saw fit to criticise the fans for booing the team again in the Burnley match in his programme notes. All well and good, the atmosphere at Loftus Road is not good at the moment and not conducive to good football however this is not a one way street. There has been no mention from Rowlands or anybody else at the club about the chopping and changing of the team and piss poor performance against Burnley forcing the horrible selfish supporters into a Tuesday night trip to Burnley – time off work, petrol, match tickets, inconvenience etc etc. No, all that’s been said is “Burnley defended quite well”. They must have done, we did not manage to have one shot. Not one shot. £20 each people paid to get into that game and we did not have one shot to cheer.
It’s amazing there hasn’t been a riot really never mind a bit of booing, especially as the Burnley bore-a-thon was followed up with another draw against ten man Coventry City, a game which saw several players, Rowlands chief amongst them, fail miserably to clear the first man with any cross, corner or set piece all afternoon. There was a bit of booing again at that needless to say, maybe we should have just paid our money, clapped politely and gone home.
Even allowing for free coach travel I cannot believe there will be more than 150 people in the away end at Turf Moor. Now I would hope that for the sake of the travelling idiots who are still going to this game our team produces something a bit more than they did in the first game against Burnley or on Saturday against Coventry even if Burnley have the temerity to “defend quite well” again.
I’m not talking about effort because I don’t believe lack of effort is an issue or the problem, and I don’t mean that going there demanding that they win because I don’t think we will – all I would like to see is a reasonable level of competence. It is not unreasonable to expect somebody paid £8k a week and more to play football to be able to clear the defender at the near post with a corner or a free kick every now and again. It is not unreasonable to expect a team of these so called professionals to manage a shot on the goal in 90 minutes – a serious one, that requires saving and everything. I don’t expect us to sweep all before us and I am not going to sit and boo and heckle the team whenever they do not win 3-0 but at the same time I do not think it is unreasonable to expect a reasonable degree of competence from our players and have a bit of a moan if we don’t get it.
Two minutes on Burnley
You will excuse me, or perhaps you won’t, from copying and pasting large chunks of last week’s preview but I am afraid I have come down with some bug or other and the germs are regrouping for another assault. Anyway there really is not that much new to say about Burnley ten days after I said it all before.
In past previews we have spoken about Burnley’s past tendency to fade away in the middle of seasons due to the small size f their squad. Numbers have increased slightly this year in Owen Coyle’s first full term in charge but so to has their number of games. Their run in the League Cup took them past Fulham, Chelsea and Arsenal before a semi final draw with Tottenham. The FA Cup third round game at Loftus Road was seen by many as getting in the way of the big game at White Hart Lane and Coyle made one or two changes for the first match between us perhaps with one eye on that.
It looked to have paid off as well as Burnley went to town on the Premiership team in the first half. Tottenham barely got a kick with Burnley’s holding midfielders here there and everywhere. Going forward Chris Eagles wandered right and left and proved to be elusive to the Tottenham players and hugely effective to his own side. He was the best player on the pitch in the first half and after a terrific piece of skill wide on the right he crossed for Martin Paterson to give the Clarets a deserved win midway through the first period. That should really have been two nil when Robbie Blake headed another Eagles cross fractionally wide. Still, by half time the Premiership team was in trouble and Burnley looked all set to return to the north for the second leg with an advantage intact. They had gone to a Premiership ground from a division commonly associated with attrition and long ball football and passed them off the park, it was a joy to watch and a great fillip for our league.
Sadly though it turned out to be the proverbial game of two halves. In the second half Harry Redknapp sent on Jamie O’Hara to sure up the midfield, Coyle lost Gudjohnson to injury and the part of Burnley’s team that is actually playing at its correct level was found wanting – the centre halves. When Clarke Carlisle first arrived at QPR from Blackpool he made the England Under 21 squad and looked like a tremendous acquisition. A career threatening knee injury, enough alcohol to open an off license and all choked down with a packet of B&H or five have done little for Carlisle’s form, fitness or pace since then. Often he looks fine in our league, and was excellent at Loftus Road in the first FA Cup game between these two, but put him against somebody with pace or genuine ability and he will struggle.
He lost his man for a corner for the first Tottenham goal, then big keeper Brain Jensen made a rare mistake for the second and then Clarke struck again for the third. Carlisle was once crowned Britain’s brainiest footballer and he clearly thought he was going to outthink Pavlyuchenko by nicking the ball from him as he turned across the face of the penalty area. Problem was the Russian was a step ahead in every way and turned the other way, leaving Carlisle looking like a complete moron all by himself on the edge of his own penalty area – a mere spectator as the Russian smashed in a third. Michael Duff headed a fourth through his own net moments later.
So in less than 20 minutes Tottenham had all but sealed their passage to the final after spending the first half of the first leg being completely outplayed. If Burnley are to maintain their good start to the season and make it into the top flight they will quickly find out the difference between one off cup ties and a consistent league campaign. A lapse of concentration for 20 minutes in the Championship often results in nothing, especially against QPR, but at Tottenham last week they ended up hammered 4-1 after being the better team for the majority of the match.
Whether Burnley maintain their form into the second half of the season is a big debate because cracks are starting to appear and they have at least eight matches to play this month. They lost to lowly Barnsley and Doncaster in consecutive games over Christmas and after two cup games they returned to league action on Saturday night with a 2-0 home defeat by Swansea. They have now lost their last three league games and are without a win in five in all competition. We are usually the ideal opponents for a team on such a run but Burnley fans must surely be fearing that all the football the players have been involved in is about to come back and bite into a small squad again. Players like Eagles and Paterson deserve a shot at the play offs, and I cannot imagine Eagles will stay in this league for long whatever happens to Burnley, but they must not fight hard to make sure a promising start to the campaign does not now peter out.
Men to watch As I have already said striker Martin Paterson is the main man for QPR to stop this weekend with seven goals in his last nine games, and ten in the league overall this season. Paterson started life as a trainee at Stoke but after scoring six goals in 15 starts on loan at Grimsby Town he came to the attention of Scunthorpe United who shelled out £100,000 for his services ahead of their first season in the Championship. Paterson scored 13 league goals for the Iron last season, including one against QPR at Glanford Park, but there were still eyebrows raised in North Lincolnshire when Burnley offered £1m for him in the summer. It seemed a lot for a still relatively unproven player but he has justified the fee with a fine first half to the season.
The 21 year old Northern Ireland international is joined in attack by Robbie Blake who scored a fine equalising goal in the league meeting at Loftus Road in November. Blake is one of those players who often looks too good for this level but has never quite been able to do it at the very top. This is his second spell with the Clarets who initially bought him for £1m from Bradford City before selling him to Birmingham City at a £250,000 profit. A poor spell in a declining Leeds set up preceded his second spell at Turf Moor and he has four goals to his name this season. Former Cardiff target man Steve Thompson is poised to crawl all over our centre halves if required – he’s an awkward lump but not a particularly prolific goal scorer. We know only too well what threat Ade Akinbiyi can be at this level.
The star of the show so far this season has been midfielder Chris Eagles. He had loan spells with Watford, Sheff Wed and Nijmegen while growing up at Man Utd but left permanently in the summer for a fee in the region of £1.3m. Eagles has been one of the stars of the league this season with five goals from midfield and a number of eye catching, all action displays. He looks, very much like Adam Johnson did at Watford last season, a bit of a cut above this level on his day. On the other side of midfield is former Bournemouth man wade Elliott who often tops the assist charts in this league and plays a lot like our own Lee Cook. Rangers kept Elliott pretty well under wraps in the first game but eagles had a field day and with classy midfielder Alan Mahon ready to come on and add quality from the bench and Joey Gudjohnson possessing an eye for a spectacular long range attempt the Clarets are much better equipped across the middle of the park than we are.
At the back the familiar figure of Clarke Carlisle leads the back four. Carlisle endured injury and personal problems that blighted his time at Loftus Road after a bright start had seen him make the England Under 21s following a £250,000 move from Blackpool. He upset QPR fans by turning down a new contract following our promotion in 2003/04 to move closer to his family in the north – we’re not a totally heartless bunch, it was the fact that he then moved to that well known northern outpost Watford nine months later. Carlisle has settled down well at Turf Moor however looking at his farcical defending for one of Doncaster’s goal in the last match the more cynical amongst us may suggest he had turned back the clock and rather over done things at Christmas.
Giant goalkeeper Brian Jensen provides a formidable barrier behind the back four which will be shorn of former Sunderland man Steven Caldwell and former Man City full back Stephen Jordan through suspension this weekend. Jensen is enjoying a terrific run of form this season after eight years in this country with West Brom and now Burnley.
At Loftus Road in November these two teams fought out an attractive and entertaining Championship match that ended, deservedly, 2-1 in Burnley’s favour. You would hardly have guessed it was the same pair of teams in the FA Cup last week as they contrived to produce one of the worst games of football I have ever been to. Wade Elliott hit the bar in the first half with a long range volley but that really was just about it – QPR did not manage a serious shot on the goal all afternoon, one routine save from Brian Jensen denied Sam Di Carmine in the first half but that was it. Turgid.
On their last visit to Turf Moor relegation haunted QPR sealed a rare away win with a backs to the wall effort. Lee Camp kept the R’s in the game with a string of fine saves and Burnley hit a post in he first half before Damion Stewart’s flying header from Scott Sinclair’s corner just after half time gave Rangers the lead. After that Burnley laid siege to the QPR goal to the point where goalkeeper Kiraly went up to add his weight to a last minute corner – when QPR got that away it was left to Rowan Vine to race the length of the field with the ball at his feet and roll the ball into the empty net in front of the small but jubilant gang of QPR supporters.
Team News Rangers have something of a selection headache of this one. Akos Buzsaky and Rowan Vine are long term absentees and Patrick Agyemang is out after minor thigh surgery at the weekend after a training ground injury. Lee Cook is still out with a virus and Wayne Routledge is ineligible after not being registered in time to take part in the first game.
Burnley are missing centre half Michael Duff who was sent off for a professional foul against Swansea at the weekend – a decision that led to a penalty that was converted by Jason Scotland. Steve Caldwell was suspended for the first game but is available for this and is likely to be partnered by Clarke Carlisle who was dropped after his League Cup calamity against Spurs for the Swansea game. Gudjohnson left the Tottenham match early with a calf injury but recovered in time for the Swansea game, Wade Elliott’s ban for five yellow cards does not start until the weekend.
Tyne and Wear official Colin Webster is the man in the middle for this, his second Burnley game in two months but first QPR fixture since Ian Holloway was the manager. He has refereed QPR five times, each one away from home, and Rangers have only lost once although when they did they really did – 6-1 at Leeds. On Saturday he awarded Wolves a penalty at Molineux and then changed his mind on advice from his linesman. Brave man! Details
Plenty of replays this Tuesday after draws and frozen pitches ten days ago. Histon at home to Swansea looks to be the pick of the ties and last season the BBC paid the price for not televising Swansea’s away match at Havant and Waterlooville when that one finished 3-2 and the Man City v West Ham game they did show was a shambles. Different TV companies this season but they have ignored the Histon game in favour of Bristol City v Portsmouth – hope they know what they are doing. If QPR happen to win their game they will face the winners of the tie between Peterborough and West Brom also taking place on Tuesday night.
Burnley’s form has suddenly taken a turn for the worse after a terrific run. They are without a win in five games in all competitions – three league defeats against Swansea, Doncaster and Barnsley, a dull draw against us in the FA Cup and a 4-1 set back at Tottenham in the League Cup. However the defeat against Spurs was their first against a London club this season with points and cup progress already taken from Palace, Charlton, QPR (twice), Arsenal, Chelsea and Fulham. At Turf Moor this season they have won seven and drawn four of 14 matches – two of those defeats came in their last two home games against Swansea and Barnsley, Ipswich are the other team to win here. The draw at Loftus Road is Burnley’s only clean sheet in their last nine matches.
QPR haven’t won an FA Cup game of any sort since 2001 when they beat Luton at this stage, again after a replay. They have also won just three away games all season, one in the league, and just one of their last 20 away league games dating back to Southampton away last season. Rangers have scored just five goals away from home in the league all season, even with the four they managed against Swindon and Villa in the cup they are still only level with the two other worst away scorers in the league Plymouth and Charlton who have nine. No team in the football league has a worst away goals record than QPR – West Brom (four) and Fulham (two) have a worse one in the Premiership.
Cold night in the north with injury problems in a cup competition? Even with Burnley’s sudden loss of form it is hard to see anything other than a miserable evening and comfortable defeat.
Burnley 2 QPR 0