Queens Park Rangers: Predicting Harry Redknapp's Formation vs. Aston Villa
Harry Redknapp has no other option but to beat Aston Villa on Saturday. Well, he does, but anything less than three points at home against a struggling side would be unacceptable.
However with a squad containing big talent, and even bigger egos, his first test will be to select a team and formation that will flow and be able to play together.
Redknapp usually favors playing down the wings, and uses the speed of counterattacking the opponent to try and win games (via ESPN).
But which formation at QPR will allow the players to play good football, not leak goals and score them at the other end?
I have selected Rob Green in goal for all of these options, but this is because Julio Cesar is in doubt (via the QPR website). The rest of the squad is currently available (apart from Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora, of course), apart from some match-fitness worries.
So who will Redknapp pick to start? And what formation will they line up in? And can they actually win a game?
I will try and predict the first two questions, but not even Paul the Octopus could answer the last.
Here are three possible formations and starting lineups. Feel free to leave your own suggestions below!
The 4-5-1 is Redknapp's preferred style of play.
Djibril Cisse as the target man up front, with Jamie Mackie and Adel Taarabt running forward behind him and taking the ball down the flanks.
Esteban Granero will be the holding midfielder and essentially the playmaker, while Samba Diakite and Stephane Mbia sit just in front of the back four. All three were praised by Redknapp in midweek for their performance against Sunderland (via Kilburn Times).
With these three strong midfielders holding back, Jose Bosingwa makes it into my starting lineup with this formation. And the other back three are consistent throughout my formations.
Neither Mbia or Diakite have the the temperament to be the defensive midfielder covering the back four alone, but together they are a force to be reckoned with. And although it doesn't look good for Alejandro Faurlin, this could well be a regular midfield trio under Redknapp.
A 4-1-2-1-2 is a tighter formation and one that could be seen as more aggressive.
Stephane Mbia drops into right-back here and Shaun Derry also makes an appearance in the team. This is because Diakite and Granero would be given more license to push forward, with Derry as the holding midfielder—a position he played so well last season.
Playing Mbia instead of Boswinga at RB will mean the right flank is more protected, as the Cameroonian has a more defensive mindset than the Portuguese.
Going with both Mackie and Cisse as out-and-out strikers ensures that Djibril does not get left up top with no service. Mackie could drift back to be the bridge between midfield and attack. And Taarabt would have a free reign behind the forwards, ultimately becoming the playmaker in this formation.
A 4-4-1-1 mirrors the formation Harry Redknapp lined up with against Sunderland. However this is probably the most controversial starting XI.
The back four returns to that of a 4-5-1, as there are four midfielders across the center of the pitch, meaning there is cover for the full-backs.
Bringing in Junior Hoilett provides width on the right-hand side and can become a third striker during counterattacks.
Mbia and Diakite yet again play as the holding midfielders, however on the left in comes Ji-Sung Park. Out injured recently, Park possesses the work ethic that Redknapp admires—even if he hasn't always shown it since joining QPR.
Speaking of work ethic, Jamie Mackie moves into the main striker position as Cisse drops to the bench. Cisse is out of form and Mackie may be beginning to find some. Add in Adel just behind him, and you could see a deadly combination up top.
One major upset could be leaving Granero out of the lineup. However with Redknapp's penchant for big strong midfielders (remember Wilson Palacios, Tom Huddlestone and Sandro), it is likely the Spaniard could be the man to miss out.