Who: Chelsea FC at Queens Park Rangers
Where: Loftus Road, White City, London, England
When: Saturday, September 15, 2012
Weather: The Weather Channel Weekend Forecast, London, England
Time: 15:00 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT
TV: Fox Soccer Channel (USA)
2-Way Odds: Chelsea -½ -125, QPR +½ +105
3-Way Odds: Chelsea -125, QPR +350, Draw +260
Total: Over 2½ -120, Under 2½ +100
Source: LVH SuperBook, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
It seems likes it’s been ages since Chelsea has played, but the Blues will be back in action Saturday when they face Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road in a west London derby in their first English Premier League game since August 25.
Chelsea enters the match on top of the league table with a perfect 3-0-0 record (eight goals for, two goals against) and should be looking for revenge after losing to QPR on the road last season, 1-0, in a match that saw both Didier Drogba and José Bosingwa ejected with red cards.
QPR (0-1-2, 2 GF-9 GA), off to a poor start this season, is coming off a 3-1 loss to defending EPL champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium and was blasted 5-0 by Swansea City in its only home game to date in its league opener.
Manager Mark Hughes leads a revamped QPR squad which added 12 new arrivals during the summer transfer window including Park Ji-sung and Fábio from Manchester United as well as Ryan Nelsen, Andy Johnson, Esteban Granero, Junior Hoilett, Samba Diakité and goalkeepers Rob Green and Júlio César.
After the embarrassment of allowing five goals to the Swans and the acquisition of César, Hughes said he is willing to let Green leave in the winter transfer window if he is unhappy about his lack of first-team football for the club.
Super Hoops’ fullback Fábio said he and his QPR teammates are up for the match with the Blues this weekend.
“I know all about the rivalry between QPR and Chelsea,” Fábio said on QPR's website earlier this week. “All the players know about this. It is a big derby game and I am ready for it.
“These ones are more special to be play in, definitely. We really want to win this game because we know what it means to our supporters to win this match. It is very exciting. Matches like this have an extra edge.”
With Chelsea enjoying its nice start in the league and QPR getting off to a dismal one, expect the home team to bring some extra effort to this match but with so many new parts and some mini-controversies with Green and reports of Diakité being treated for depression—which the Malian international has vehemently denied—it will be surprising if QPR will suddenly finds its form here against the European champions.
The Blues pounded the Super Hoops, 6-1 at Stamford Bridge last season and coming off the utter embarrassment against Atlético Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup, expect Chelsea to be on its best behavior Saturday just two-and-a-half miles away from home.
Of concern for the visitors is the health of defenders John Terry and Ashley Cole who both suffered ankle injuries in England’s 5-0 win against Moldova last Friday in its World Cup qualifier match in Chisinau.
Both players received extensive treatment this week and are now battling to return for Saturday’s match.
Meanwhile, QPR defender Anton Ferdinand will be fit and play after recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in the loss to the Sky Blues.
Ferdinand and Terry were involved in an incident in this fixture last season with the Chelsea captain being accused of using a racial slur against Ferdinand in which Terry was found not guilty by the Westminster Magistrates Court.
Terry still remains the subject of an investigation in the alleged incident by the Football Association, which will is scheduled to hold a hearing on the matter on September 24.
If somehow both Terry and Cole can’t go, the Blues have four solid guys on their roster in Gary Cahill, Ryan Bertrand, Paulo Ferreira and new acquisition César Azpilicueta to turn to but but I expect the two veterans to both to be fit for this match.
Defensively, Chelsea will need to keep QPR striker Djibril Cissé in check and Blues goalkeeper Petr Čech—who will reportedly need elbow surgery in the offseason—will need to be at his best for visitors to come away with three points and hold on to its lofty perch atop the EPL table.
One area of concern for Chelsea is the defensive midfield, so we may see Oriol Romeu get a start besides John Obi Mikel although Frank Lampard will likely get the call again from Blues manager Roberto Di Matteo.
On the attack, expect Fernando Torres, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard to continue to be as dangerous as they have been so far this young season and Daniel Sturridge and new acquisition Victor Moses may get some minutes and show the Blues potential scoring depth.
This one will no doubt be played on pins and needles with even the pregame handshake potentially being some strange source of entertainment for the fans with the ongoing Terry-Ferdinand sideshow.
Although both clubs are undergoing transformations with so many new faces in, I expect the better club, Chelsea, to prevail in this one and avenge its loss here last year in a close and exciting contest.
And it will probably be a little bit easier for the Blues this time around trying to beat QPR at Loftus Road with 11 players on the pitch as opposed to nine.
Prediction: Chelsea 2 QPR 1
Bets: Chelsea -125
Picks Last Match: None
Season To Date: (4-2-0)
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