Derby go into this game looking to continue their good home form of 4 wins out of 6 and lift them back up the table after midweek disappointment at Middlesbrough. The Rams were beaten 2-0 on Tuesday night by Boro as their dismal away form continued. They will be glad to get back on home soil and, with a strong home support, beat the improving Queens Park Rangers.
After the midweek defeat has left the Rams sitting in 19th position in the table, only six points off the relegation zone. As well as a poor result on Tuesday the Rams also added to their injury list. Jay McEveley and Kris Commons both sustained injuries during the match, meaning there are now 11 first team players unavailable to Nigel Clough.
On a positive note Nigel Clough has moved to strengthen his squad by signing Bryan Hughes on a month’s loan from Hull City, the midfielder goes straight into the squad for tomorrow’s match. Hughes hasn’t featured for Hull this season but he is very experienced at Championship level, having played for Birmingham, Charlton and Hull at this level in the past. The new arrival comes with a reputation of being a creative attacking central midfielder, and he should add quality to Derby’s midfield for the next month.
Nigel Clough is really struggling to put a 17-man squad together for this game, the starting eleven should be able to be competitive at this level but the lack of experience on the bench really emphasises Derby’s problems.
My starting XI for this game would be:
Connolly, Barker, Leacock, Moxey
Croft, Livermore, Savage, Teale
And on the bench will be whoever’s fit! So I would expect to see Mills, Deeney, Buxton, Hendrie and Hughes.
Given the controversy over their owner Flavio Briatore and his suitability to be a football chairman Rangers have performed well on the pitch in recent weeks. Jim Magilton’s men are currently 10th in the league, have won their last two games and scored 8 goals in the process. A daunting prospect for the Rams but they will take heart from the fact that QPR’s away form is decidedly average; they have won two, drawn two and lost two this season. In their last away game they lost to Swansea 2-0 so there is a chink in their armour which Derby could take advantage of.
Men to watch:
One of QPR’s best players and someone to really watch is Ben Watson, however the central midfielder who is on loan from Wigan until January is currently serving a 3 match ban after being sent off in his last two matches. Watson is a former Crystal Palace player who has a great engine to keep going for the whole game; his absence will be a big bonus for Derby.
Wayne Routledge – a tricky winger who is performing very well this season. Routledge has bags of pace and lots of skill, which makes him a very tough opponent for defenders. Dean Moxey will definitely have a busy game against him.
Jay Simpson – a striker on a season long loan from Arsenal having been at West Bromwich Albion last season. Simpson has a real eye for goal and is highly thought of at Arsenal, he has shown his accuracy already this season by scoring 5 goals.
Games between these two sides are generally very even, last season both teams won their away fixture 2-0, and overall the Rams have a slightly better record in the previous meetings – winning 16 out of the 42 encounters. QPR have won 11 and there have been 15 draws.
Mark Haywood from West Yorkshire will be the referee for this game; he has taken charge of 11 games this season although only two of these have been in the Championship. So far he has issued 20 yellow cards and a single red card.
I think that an injury ravaged Derby side will struggle to contain an in-form Rangers, I predict an away win but would love to see Clough’s men grab a victory and continue their good home form. The match is Saturday’s evening kick off (17:30) and will be live on BBC2.
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