A return to Premier League duties following the Europa League draw with Lazio see’s Tottenham Hotspur welcome Queen’s Park Rangers to White Hart Lane. The 0-0 with the Serie A outfit wasn’t the ideal start to this season’s European campaign, but it is true what they say; one point is better than none.
If the aftermath of the stalemate, the players took to Twitter to express their disappointment with the result, but also to voice determination to pick up a positive result against the R’s this afternoon. And they’re absolutely right to be looking ahead to the tough London derby. As mentioned, the draw wasn’t ideal, especially with two of the three goals, Clint Dempsey’s first half effort and Steven Caulker’s second half head, being incorrectly chalked off.
However, it’s time to put the game behind them and focus on QPR. Unlike last season, a comfortable 3-1 win for Spurs, the visit of Mark Hughes’ side is going to be a much tougher proposition. The R’s have spent heavily this summer, bringing in the likes of Park Ji-Sung, Julio Cesar, Stephane M’Bia and Esteban Granero.
While the loss of former captain Joey Barton, who completed a headline grabbing loan move to Marseille late in the transfer window, is likely to have weakened them, to stay QPR have strengthened would be an understatement. The backline is significantly stronger, through the acquisition of Cesar alone, and going forward; you can add Junior Hoilett to the aforementioned signings of Granero and Park.
Unlike last season, a comfortable 3-1 win for Spurs, the visit of Mark Hughes’ side is going to be a much tougher proposition
However, regardless of the R’s signings, they haven’t had the best of starts. Two draws and two defeats, including a disappointing 5-0 defeat to Swansea City on the opening day of the season, has left the club in 19th place on two points. Improvements in the performance are evident, however, following an impressive, but not spectacular, 0-0 draw with rivals Chelsea.
Spurs, like QPR, have also succumbed to a poor start of the season, only winning their first game of the season under new head-coach Andre Villas-Boas last weekend with the impressive 3-1 victory over Reading. They are likely to come under the microscope against stiffer opposition today and, with a difficult trip to Manchester United next weekend, three points is vital.
Villas-Boas is likely to make just three changes from the 0-0 draw with Lazio; Brad Friedel, William Gallas and Gylfi Sigurdsson to come in for Hugo Lloris, Kyle Naughton and Dempsey. Naughton will be the main loss of the three, should he fail to recover in time, having limped out of White Hart Lane on crutches with his right foot in a protective boot.
The young full-back has looked assured at left-back following an injury to Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who is expected to be out until next month. It will be a huge blow for Naughton should he face a spell on the sidelines as he looks to stake a claim for a starting spot. If he is to miss out, fans are expecting Jan Vertonghen to move over to left-back and Gallas to start alongside Caulker.
They are likely to come under the microscope against stiffer opposition today and, with a difficult trip to Manchester United next weekend, three points is vital
Some are also championing for Lloris to retain his place in between the sticks, but with a mid-week encounter against Carlisle United in the Capital One Cup; it is key to rest key members with the games beginning to come thick and fast.
Dempsey looks as though he will drop to the bench following his run-out against Lazio, but his lack of pre-season fitness was painstakingly evident. The remainder of the starting XI, effectively, picks itself, with the likes of Jermain Defoe, Gareth Bale, Mousa Dembele, Sandro and Kyle Walker all expected to start.
However, it is pivotal Spurs don’t rest on their laurels. QPR may’ve stuttered at White Hart Lane last October, but this is a completely different R’s side, as witnessed in the 1-0 defeat to the West London outfit at Loftus Road back in April. Despite the poor start of their London neighbours, QPR have more than enough talent to cause a major upset at White Hart Lane.
Spurs need to take game seriously, but if they do; can certainly pick up all three points. Like the game against Lazio, I’m again going for a 2-1 win. QPR certainly have the personnel to cause the hosts damage and a goal will undoubtedly be netted by the R’s. However, with home advantage and the form of Defoe, it will be too much, with Spurs to come away with all three points.
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