The Thursday Preview: Bristol City Vs QPR

Posted by on Oct 21, 2010 in The Thursday Preview | 8 Comments

It can sometimes be surprisingly difficult to pick out a half-decent game for The Thursday Preview across 36 Football League fixtures, but tomorrow evening’s Sky televised match under the Ashton Gate floodlights between Bristol City and QPR is, at least on paper, a corker.

This is the fourth consecutive season that the two clubs have met, but I doubt that players and supporters will have any problems getting up for the match. In the top flight, such repetition more often than not means stagnancy but this fixture suffers from no such troubles; bookending the Championship table in bottom and top place respectively, City and Rangers are both in need points, but for quite different reasons.

Both have had their highs and lows since they returned to the Championship from down below, and they couldn’t be further apart right now. The Robins’ opening two months have been a shambles, whereas Neil Warnock has, to date, brought a steeley consistency rarely witnessed around Shepherd’s Bush. Going into the game, the Londoners have conceded just once in eight and, aside from a minor League Cup blip, remain unbeaten. On the other hand, City can’t stop conceding and it looks like it’ll be a long season for the Championship’s surprise relegation package.

It was all so different when the Cider drinkers, buoyed by a last day promotion from League 1 the year before, first arrived in the second tier. However, as Billy Davies is currently finding out with Forest, momentum is difficult to recapture once it’s left you, and City have been infected by the dreaded slow decline since the play-off final defeat to Hull in 2008. Marked by taking pops at Lee Johnson and local boy done good Cole Skuse, there’s been a whiff of in-fighting for some time now at Ashton Gate and one wonders whether supporters may have played an ever so small part in City’s descent through their (albeit mild) self-flagellation.

There’s reason to be a little more cheerful, though, after the Robins recorded their first home win in six months on Tuesday night against Reading. As slender as it was, the 1-0 victory has provided a morale-boosting base from which to make a belated start to the season and captain Louis Carey has spoken about how he even shed tears at the end of the game. With emotions raw and confidence fragile, this really is a pivotal game and a win in particular could be the making of Keith Millen as the club’s permanent manager. He’ll no doubt hope to settle the team down after a good result so, barring injury, expect the same eleven to start against the R’s. The performance of Jon Stead and rookie centre-half Steven Caulker, one of a legion of Spurs players on loan to Football League clubs, will be key to the outcome for me.

You can expect Warnock’s battle-hardened side to make it difficult, though. They may have struggled creatively after two of their attacking triumvirate, Ákos Buzsáky and Alejandro (Alejandro) Faurlín, were ruled out in recent weeks, but your Clint Hills, Shaun Derrys and Jamie Mackies have still been around to ensure that no team is given an easy ride. There is a suggestion that Rangers have rode their luck on occasion, however, and just today an article on the Guardian Football Blog from Barney Ronay compared the R’s unfavourably to previous second flight winners (with apologies to Reading).

I’m sure they’ll all make some money from this ‘venture’, but it’s a circus behind the scenes at Loftus Road, which no doubt undermines the strides being made on the pitch. One silly comment about Marcello Lippi coming in as manager and another about having no enthusiasm for QPR “at all” are this week’s offerings from the boardroom, which will have reopened supporters’ wounds. Warnock has dealt with worse before, though, and he’ll use his experience to turn this week’s events in his favour. With that in mind, I’d be surprised if his team didn’t come away with anything, but not completely. With Buzsáky still sidelined, there is a question mark lingering over the quality of the R’s attack and they will need to answer those before I start getting too carried away.

Lloyd
is co-editor of The Two Unfortunates. He’s 30, supports Plymouth Argyle and takes a particular interest in the fortunes of those Football League clubs west of Bristol.

8 Comments

  1. Lanterne Rouge
    October 21, 2010

    Football is littered with examples of matches where bottom beats top – I'll stick my neck out and state that this will be the next – although I'm probably still fuming from that Ronay piece and his ignoring of 106 points.

    Here's with steam coming out of my ears.

    Reply
  2. Ben
    October 21, 2010

    Bernie Ecclestone: proof that odious oafs can be found in boardrooms beyond the Premier League.

    I'm at a bit of a loss to see why QPR are suddenly doing so well (and don't want to have to attribute it to Warnock if I can help it). Taarabt was there last season, after all. Is it just Mackie?

    As for City, I'm as surprised as anyone. I thought they made some good summer signings and strengthened their attack to useful effect before the transfer window closed. Nicky Maynard's absence hasn't helped, though.

    Reply
  3. Bill Turianski
    October 21, 2010

    Thanks for this, I had forgotten that this match is on live in the US on Fox Soccer Plus. I think it will be a 2-2 draw.

    Reply
  4. Lanterne Rouge
    October 22, 2010

    Gutted that I don't get Fox Soccer Plus here in New York as this would have been a cracker to watch although skiving off work would have been necessary.

    Reply
  5. Stanley
    October 22, 2010

    In answer to Ben's question, I would suggest that the Super Hoops' improved performance is more down to the addition of Paddy Kenny, Clint Hill and Shaun Derry. The attacking verve was there already, only without a sturdy enough foundation. Although they've had a relative wobble in recent weeks, I fully expect a QPR win.

    Reply
  6. Ben
    October 22, 2010

    Mackie's clearly playing out of his skin but were Clint Hill and Shaun Derry really that good for Crystal Palace? Just surprised to see them hailed as key players for a table-topping side…

    Must say that QPR were one of the most aesthetically pleasing sides we faced last season – we were a bit lucky to get away with the 1-1 draw at home. Not many other sides came close to beating us, but they were fluid and purposeful. I was a bit mystified when they tailed off so badly.

    Reply
  7. Lanterne Rouge
    October 22, 2010

    Not sure when you played them Ben but I also thought they were one of the better sides I saw last season – they hammered Reading 4-1 at Loftus Road. However, that was before a certain Neil took over and if Shaun Derry and Clint Hill are far from polished gems, they both know hwo to compete. I haven't seen Rangers this sesaon but suspect that their progress is based on what Avon Barksdale from The Wire might term “muscle”.

    Reply
  8. Ben
    October 26, 2010

    I think the home game was in September (we played them at Loftus Road the last game of the season, when the dust had already settled on everything).

    Reply

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