Queens Park Rangers: 5 Things We Learned from QPR's Win over Fulham
QPR needed three points to rejuvenate their season and get Harry Houdini's great escape up and running, and they did just that. A victory for the Super Hoops was long awaited and hard earned.
A scrappy game in parts, Rangers dominated possession and looked the better team throughout—something which has been said of the side before, but this time they made it count, even if Mladen Petric tried to spoil the party.
But what did we learn from the win, apart from the fact that we now know that Rangers actually can?
Adel Taarabt Can't Go to the African Cup of Nations
"Taarabt's too good for you," rang out at Loftus Road, as he had a lucky deflection for his first goal (although he'll probably say he meant it), and his second was a superb solo effort.
Without the Moroccan Magician, who was the star of the show on Saturday, QPR may well have faltered to their 17th game without a win.
He looks like a transformed player this season compared to last—tracking back, making tackles (sometimes), controlling the play, completing 17 step overs a minute, creating many spectacular chances and scoring even more spectacular goals.
The game against Fulham highlighted how influential he is at QPR, but he must make a decision soon as to whether he will stay and help the Rangers revival or play for his country in the African Cup of Nations next month.
Taarabt told the BBC earlier this week:
Of course, it's my country so it's a difficult decision for me because the situation with my club is difficult and the manager asked if I could stay. I would love to but it's my country so if I say no everybody at home will think I don't want to play.
Any rational person can see both sides of Adel's dilemma and understand how hard the decision will be.
But Rangers desperately need Taarabt, and fans will hope he realizes that before the ACON roll call.
Rob Green Is a Real Contender for a Starting Place
Rob Green was written off in August by most people, including myself.
The introduction of Julio Cesar looked likely to spell the end of the England international's QPR career. However, Cesar limping off with a groin injury against Sunderland has sparked new life into Green.
His performances against the Black Cats in the second half caused fans to take their hands away from their eyes and admit that, "that was actually a good save".
His performance against Wigan caused Harry Redknapp to retain him as the starting goalkeeper in the game against Fulham.
However, his performance against Fulham may well have given Cesar cause for concern, as despite some worrying one-two passing in his own penalty box, Green was solid, and he could well be staking a real claim to be retained as Rangers' No. 1 keeper.
Heart over Medals
QPR won their first game of the season against Fulham, and the team contained just one Champions League medal winner.
Harry's "go hard or go home" philosophy seems to be working, with Clint Hill, Ryan Nelsen and Stephane Mbia increasingly looking like the backbone of the team.
The lack of ego on the pitch—with the exception of Adel Taarabt and Djibril Cisse—could well be the key to the future success of Rangers.
Harry Redknapp seems to have found a balance between heart and class, and QPR look like they are playing as a team instead of 11 separate entities.
Dimitar Berbatov Needs Better Teammates
Dimitar Berbatov flung his arms into the air more often than he had the ball at his feet against QPR.
Frustrated and often lonely up front, Berbatov is not used to playing without consistent, decent service. There is undoubtedly talent in the Fulham side, but not to the heights of Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes or Antonio Valencia, and Dimitar is starting to find that out the hard way.
Berbatov will be the key to Fulham's success this season, and if Martin Jol finds a system which utilizes the Bulgarian's talent, he could see three points coming his way more regularly.
However, at the moment, Berbatov is a class above the rest of the boys in white, and he is starting to look like he wished he never moved—although he always seems to have frown on his face, even at his happiest times.
QPR Still Need to Take More of Their Chances
Without Adel Taarabt's magic, there is a chance QPR would not have scored against Fulham.
Rangers had 19 shots, and nine of those were on target on Saturday (via BBC). With their 19 shots, they only scored two.
Jamie Mackie, Djibril Cisse and Shaun Wright-Phillips all had clear-cut chances, and none of them were taken. If Taarabt is to leave for ACON, one of these men will have to step up to the plate.
Taking their chances is the biggest weakness in QPR's armoury when it comes to attacking. They create the spaces, play the balls and make their way into the opponent's box, but they struggle to finish.
The strikers need to start firing if Rangers are to build on the most important three points they just won.