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Queens Park Rangers: Tactical Analysis of Their Defensive Resurgence

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 29: Fabio da Silva of QPR and Gael Clichy of Manchester City tussle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Manchester City at Loftus Road on January 29, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJanuary 29, 2013

Queens Park Rangers held Manchester City to a 0-0 draw at Loftus Road on Tuesday night and the home fans can thank their defence for a share of the spoils.

City outshone their rivals in every department except the scoreline, totaling 69 percent of the possession, 17 shots and the lion's share of territory.

How did QPR hang on?

It's a question Roberto Mancini will be asking himself on a long trip back from London, so let's shed some light on it here.



Harry Redknapp has done a marvelous job of sorting out a patched-up set of players. The camp were in disarray under Mark Hughes and the defensive indiscipline was clear to see—no commitment, no pursuit, no second balls won.

Much like when Sam Allardyce saved Blackburn Rovers from relegation in the 2008-09 season, 'Arry has taken QPR back to basics and instilled true defensive instincts at Loftus Road.

He's played around with formations, but right now favours a very flat 4-5-1, with new signing Loic Remy a very lone striker.

The shape they took against Manchester City had shades of Atletico Madrid's successful walling off of Athletic Bilbao in last season's UEFA Europa League final.

A flat four defence housing full-backs who don't attack, supported by a flat five midfield who sit very, very deep.

What QPR successfully managed was to stop the Citizens from finding space between the two lines, making it difficult to create anything from outside the area. It's easy to see why, too, as Shaun Derry, Stephane M'bia and Esteban Granero worked their socks off to maintain this blockade.

City were forced wide and ended up crossing the ball in, but to who? Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez started the game, making one diminutive, aerially unimpressive pair.

At this point, Ryan Nelsen and Clint Hill were having a very easy game, so Mancini flinched early in the second half and brought on Bosnian battering ram Edin Dzeko.

All of a sudden, the long ball up to the target man was a viable option, and Gareth Barry had been dying to play it all game long. Dzeko caused a few worries and was inches from connecting with through-ball from James Milner, but most of his influence came down the left-hand side too.

Despite his presence, the seven-man central wall was enough to nullify his presence.



QPR grabbed a draw when it looked unlikely and Julio Cesar was in inspired form to mop up any long-range efforts City chanced. This is the third time they've done this in 30 days, and five points from fixtures against City, Chelsea and Tottenham is a superb haul.

Remy has a thankless role up front on his own. Against a poor West Ham defence, his midfield were able to feed him through for a goal, but tonight even a makeshift line including Javi Garcia dealt with him comfortably.

It's not fun to watch for anyone, but you can't argue with its effectiveness.

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