Chelsea are back in action on the back of a mouth-watering 2-1 home win against Stoke City last weekend. Next up is the London derby away from home at Loftus Road, and another win would bring the leaders one step closer to their first Premier League title in five years.
TEAM NEWS, INJURY UPDATES AND SUSPENSIONS
The poor form of the hosts has been accompanied with a few injuries. Suk-Young Yun, Eduardo Vargas, Leroy Fer, Alejandro Faurlin and Darnell Furlong are the ones sidelined with injuries and have no chance to be involved in the match against the league leaders. However, Adel Taarabt will be assessed late on Sunday and could feature in the match.
Diego Costa injured a hamstring in the outing at Hull City and somehow managed to make an appearance against Stoke City as a second half substitute. But the fairy-tale comeback ended after just 11 minutes and the former Athletico Madrid man was replaced by understudy Loic Remy. The Spaniard is expected to be out for at least another week and hence there’s no chance of him playing any part in the derby. Midfielder John Obi Mikel has been declared fit after being out for one month with a knee injury.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS
— QPR have managed to keep three clean sheets in the last four Premier League matches at home to Chelsea (W2 D1 L1).
— Charlie Austin has been directly involved in 55% of the 38 goals scored by QPR this season (17 goals, 4 assists).
— The hosts have a 5-4-7 record at Loftus Road, which is a major concern for their Premier League survival this season, scoring just 21 goals and conceding 22.
— Chelsea have failed to keep a clean sheet in six of their last seven games against Rangers in the top-flight (W3 D2 L2).
— The Blues are on 99 goals in all competitions this term.
— Eden Hazard will make his 100th Premier League appearance for Chelsea against QPR. The Belgian maestro has scored nine out of nine PL penalties, the joint most of any player with a 100% record (along with Dimitar Berbatov).
— This Sunday will mark the 700th game in all competitions since Roman Abramovich took over the club in 2003. The Blues have a remarkable 62.5% win rate under him in the same period.
— Loic Remy has netted winners in last two league matches for the Blues. He will be up against his former club after making a summer switch to Chelsea.
— Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic have racked up 9 yellow cards each this term and are to miss the next two league matches [Arsenal(A) and Manchester United(H)], if either one picks up one more yellow card.
PLAYER VS PLAYER BATTLES
LOIC REMY vs. STEVEN CAULKER
In the absence of Diego Costa, Loic Remy is very likely to start the match against his former employers. Caulker has been the best at his position for the Rangers after giving some commanding performances. With both the players being in red-hot form, this is a battle that could make the crowd jump out of their seats.
CHARLIE AUSTIN vs. JOHN TERRY
The English forward has been involved in a significant part of the Rangers’ goals this season and will be hoping to continue his blistering form and make a dent in the leaders’ ambitions. However, he is not up against just anyone. He will be facing the Blues Captain, John Terry, arguably the best defender in the league.
EDEN HAZARD vs. MAURICIO ISLA
The on-loan Chilean fullback has been an essential ingredient for the hosts considering his form but coming up against Eden Hazard is a different story altogether. The Belgian maestro can prove to be a nightmare for the full 90 minutes.
With just 8 matches remaining, Chelsea need 5 victories and a draw to seal the title provided the rivals win all their matches. The derby makes it a must win match for the visitors, but the next two fixtures against Arsenal and Manchester United can make or break Chelsea’s title charge. Going by the trend, the league leaders will look to grab any opportunity for an early lead and look to hold the opposition thereafter.
QPR are in a bid to survive in the Premier League after gaining promotion in the current season itself. They are currently sitting in 18th position, and any slip-ups can all but ensure their relegation. The hosts are likely to play counter-attacking football with high pressing tactics and are expected to line up with two forwards. Fabregas and Hazard will surely be man-marked and forbidden from playing their natural game. Last but not the least, if the hosts want to get something out of the tie, goalkeeper Green will have to be in top form.
LAST 5 PREMIER LEAGUE MEETINGS
1 Nov 2014 Chelsea 2-1 Queens Park Rangers
3 Jan 2013 Chelsea 0-1 Queens Park Rangers
15 Sept 2012 Queens Park Rangers 0-0 Chelsea
29 Apr 2012 Chelsea 6-1 Queens Park Rangers
28 Jan 2012 Queens Park Rangers 1-0 Chelsea
PREDICTED STARTING LINE-UPS
QPR: Green (GK), Isla, Onuoha, Caulker, Hill, Phillips, Sandro, Barton(C), Kranjcar, Austin, Zamora.
Chelsea: Courtois (GK), Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (C), Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Hazard, Oscar, Willian, Remy.
QPR 1-3 Chelsea
TIME: 1230 GMT / 1800 IST
VENUE: Loftus Road
REFEREE: Andre Marriner
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Edited By: Vikram