For every Manchester City that 'buys' Premier League success via an owner with boatloads of cash, there is a Queens Park Rangers that serves as a cautionary tale. Indeed, the deep pockets of Tony Fernandes and the Mittal steel empire have only served to complicate the picture more as Mark Hughes follows up transfer market failure by throwing more good money after bad. There was a time when the Welshman was considered to be one of the up-and-comers in the managerial world, but after his term at Manchester City whetted his appetite for profligacy, things have not been the same. Having picked up over a dozen new players in the summer, Hughes is firmly in the hot seat now with currently-jobless Harry Redknapp's name being floated around as a possible successor. With trips to Arsenal and Manchester United upcoming in the next four games, it's difficult to see how Hughes digs himself out of his current predicament.
Everton go back on the road after the international break, this time to the capital with Marouane Fellaini the only new name to the casualty list. Currently in fourth place, three points tomorrow would serve David Moyes very well in keeping Everton locked in at the top of the table. On the other hand, Hughes finds his side rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table, with just two points from seven fixtures so far. QPR have failed to find any form or consistency this season, and have not had the cause helped by a rash of injuries either.
Team News -
Tony Hibbert still hasn't recovered from his calf injury but Darron Gibson could play some part after having missed some time with his thigh strain. Fellaini missing out after sustaining a knee injury while training with Belgium is a bigger headache for Moyes, especially with Gibson's extended absence. Steven Naismith being out of sorts has not made anything easier for Moyes either, so the in-form Victor Anichebe could play linkman between Nikica Jelavic and the midfield where Leon Osman and Phil Neville could pair up. Everton signed Thomas Hitzelsperger for midfield cover, but Moyes has stated he didn't feel he was match-ready yet.
The line of convalescing players has considerably shortened for Hughes, with on-loan defender Fabio coming back and the pair of Jose Bosingwa and Anton Ferdinand fully fit again. In midfield, Samba Diakite returns from his one-match ban. Armand Traore still hasn't recovered his match fitness while former Everton striker Andy Johnson is out long term with a knee injury.
Keys To The Game -
Without Fellaini's physical presence, expect Everton to focus even more on the wings, and use cutbacks rather than crossing as the mode of attack tomorrow. The pairing of Jelavic and Anichebe can more than hold their own against a very shaky QPR backline, while Leon Osman revels in picking up rebounds in the area. It will be interesting to see if Rangers prepare for the Leighton Baines - Steven Pienaar pair and end up getting stung by the Seamus Coleman - Kevin Mirallas duo instead.
Between Adel Taarabt and Esteban Granero, Rangers have two very skilful players who can control the ball and create chances out of nothing. With Howard's propensity to spill swerving shots from long distance, Taarabt will probably be peppering his goal all day long. The small pitch will suit their narrow game where Diakite can control the midfield, especially with Fellaini out. Park Ji-sung and Shaun Wright-Phillips provide pace on the wings while veteran forward Bobby Zamora can be counted on for his niggling fouls to take advantage of slip ups by the defence.
Match Facts -
- This will be David Moyes' 200th away game in charge of the Blues.
- Everton have struggled often at Loftus Road, with just three wins in 35 years there.
- 6 of Everton's goals have come from headers, the highest in the League.
- 4 of the goals QPR have conceded have come from headers, tied for highest in the League.
- Everton have also struck the post the most times this season, eight so far.
- QPR have had their posts struck the most times this season, on six occasions.