Queens Park Rangers: 6 Things We Learned from QPR's Draw with Everton
Prior to the match, a draw would have been considered a great result by Mark Hughes and his team. But as the game progressed, QPR had every opportunity to take maximum points...and squandered them.
Everton looked off the pace and could be deemed lucky to have held on with 10 men after Steven Pienaar was sent off for a pointless second yellow card. Even so, a draw was probably the right result.
But what lessons did we learn from the game? Read on to find out.
4-3-2-1 Might Be Winning Formula
Whatever formation Hughes handed in to the officials, Rangers looked as though they set up in a 4-3-2-1 shape.
With Bobby Zamora in the holding position up top, Adel Taarabt and Junior Hoilett had free roles behind the front man and looked very dangerous at times.
Esteban Granero, Samba Diakite and Ji-Sung Park held back more than in previous games to assist the flailing back line. They provided the bridge between attack and defense, sending passes up field for the three attacking men to latch on to.
This tactic worked almost instantly, with Hoilett being set free and capitalizing with his first Premier League goal for the club.
Despite the set-piece shambles, Rangers defended much better than in previous games. However, that was mainly due to the three midfielders snuffing out any threat of attack before it could reach the rickety back line.
Park Is Learning to Be a Leader
Some Rangers fans have voiced their uncertainty regarding Ji-Sung Park as captain material. However, Park's performance against Everton may go some way to easing those concerns.
Ji-Sung Park was more vocal on the pitch than in recent games and would appear in front of the referee every time he blew for a foul on an Everton player. The Korean was not confrontational, but he seemed to realize he needs to be more of a presence on the pitch.
Park has begun to show his leadership qualities through more than just hard work and solid passing, and a strong leader is what is required for Rangers in these tough times.
Jagielka Is a Top Class CB
Phil Jagielka was easily the best player on the pitch today, showing why he is one of the top center-backs in England.
His block of Ji-Sung Park in the first half prevented a definite goal for the Korean. Jagielka threw his body in the line of duty, in much the same way England fans were used to seeing John Terry do the same.
The block from Granero's shot in stoppage time again confirmed that he should easily add to his 16 international caps in the coming years.
Great news for Everton and England, but it wasn't such good news for QPR on Sunday.
Taarabt Is Becoming More Mature
Adel Taarabt is a very frustrating player. When he first arrived at Loftus Road, he didn't seem to acknowledge that the rest of the team could help him out if he passed them the ball.
However, recently, Taarabt has started to lift his head up to see if anybody else is in a better position than he is. Releasing Armand Traore down the left numerous times against Everton and switching the play are just two examples of how Taarabt is maturing.
Of course, the midfielder completed his usual step over and Cruyff turn routines, with the occasional mistimed flick or dribbling into trouble. But Taarabt looked like he was a more mature player. And that can only mean good things for Rangers.
Fellaini Is More Important to Everton Team Than First Thought
Marouane Fellaini has played a pivotal role in the Everton team for numerous years, none more so than this season. And everybody knew the Toffees would miss the Belgian in the weeks he was out through injury.
But did anybody predict just how much?
One man out should not mean a complete reshuffle of the pack, but Steven Pienaar, Victor Anichebe and Kevin Mirallas all had to play out of position on Sunday. This ultimately cost the Everton team, as they looked disjointed for much of the first half.
Fellaini is undoubtedly the key man for the Merseyside team, but David Moyes will need to learn to adapt without him a little better in future.
Rangers Don't Have a Natural Goalscorer
Bobby Zamora did his job very well on Sunday. He was there to hold the ball up and allow the onrushing Taarabt and Hoilett to create chances.
What Bobby Zamora seems to be missing is that poacher's instinct. This all comes down to confidence, or lack thereof.
To try and snatch a winning goal, Hughes brought Djibril Cisse off the bench. Yet the Frenchman found the offside flag more than the back of the net, as seems to be his main problem in recent games.
With only the two aforementioned men Hughes' out-and-out strikers, if they aren't firing, then goals will not be forthcoming. And goals win games. Rangers need to force Cisse and Zamora to find their form—and fast.
Waiting until January to make a new signing is not an option for QPR, as by then, they could be in an even worse place than they are now.