QPR vs. Manchester City: 6 Things We Learned
QPR drew 0-0 with Manchester City tonight. It's a result that will have pleased Harry Redknapp more than Roberto Mancini.
Redknapp's side are still rooted to the bottom of the Premier League though and four points away from safety.
At the other end of the table, Manchester City are now four points behind the league leaders Manchester United, which will rise to seven points if United win their game in hand tomorrow. The bad news for City is that game is at home to Southampton.
The game threw up a number of interesting questions and points. Here are six things we learned from QPR vs. Manchester City.
QPR Are Now Very Tough to Score Against
On paper QPR had a nightmare run of Premier League fixtures in January. Three London derbies is the form of Chelsea away, Spurs at home and West Ham away, before tonight's home game against Manchester City.
There was no point in Harry Redknapp adopting a gung-ho approach to such challenges. The best tactic was to keep it as tight as possible at the back and hope to grab a goal on the break.
That's just what they did, as Redknapp packed the midfield, which included the full-back Fabio. With veterans such as Clint Hill and Ryan Nelson in defence, QPR have almost no choice but to sit deep and invite pressure.
The results in the four league games of 2013? Six points, scored two, conceded once. That won't be good enough to stay up, but under the circumstances, it's a good start.
Julio Cesar Could Keep QPR Up
You could have forgiven QPR for letting him go, considering that they have Rob Green on the bench. Tonight though, Cesar proved that he could be the difference between QPR and oblivion.
The Brazilian made a string of saves, including a spectacular late stop to deny the City substitute Edin Dzeko. Cesar will save not just shots, but points for QPR before the end of the season.
Manchester City Miss Yaya Toure
The fact that Manchester City miss Yaya Toure when he's out is hardly revelatory.
What's worrying is that his likely replacements looked so ineffective tonight and of course the fact that Toure's Ivory Coast are very likely to go all the way to the African Nations Cup final.
James Milner failed to give anything like the sort of drive that Toure supplies from central midfield.
Jack Rodwell is another City player who could potentially be used in this role, but he looks far away from establishing himself in the first-team and the jury is still out on his best position.
Roberto Mancini had better hope that the Ivory Coast get eliminated in the quarter-finals.
City Rely on Individual Talents Rather Than a System
The issue of Toure's absence brings up a wider question in regards to Manchester City's playing style.
There seems to be no overall strategy to City's play. Instead, they merely rely on a moment of magic from the likes of Toure, Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Carlos Tevez.
When a team has players of that sort of talent, this will very often be enough to win most games. The problem comes at times like tonight where the opposition keep it tight and afford you no space.
There was very little movement, or anything looking like a plan as to how to break QPR down. If the league slips away from Manchester City this season, it would be no surprise if they found themselves a manager capable of greater tactical subtlety.
Redknapp Likes Goalkeepers
Not content with having the fantastic Julio Cesar out on the pitch, Harry Redknapp picked a further two on the bench.
Why would he do this? The Daily Mail suggests that it could be a ploy to convince Tony Fernandes that the squad needs more players, or to prove a point to Jose Boswinga.
Whatever the motivation, it's not the first time that Redknapp has pulled such a stunt. He picked two goalkeepers on the bench on occasions at Spurs last season.
Was there really no other outfield player that Redknapp could have picked? You can't imagine that it gives much encouragement to any young fringe players at QPR.
Now QPR Need to Start Scoring
A backs-to-the-wall approach is all well and good when you have to play teams like Chelsea, Tottenham or Manchester City, but now is the time for QPR to be more adventurous.
Aside from a visit from Manchester United towards the end of February, QPR have some very winnable fixtures in the next couple of months. Draws will not be good enough.
You wonder where that will leave Adel Taarabt, who revels in the role behind the striker. The Moroccan doesn't look a natural fit in the midfield of a 4-4-2. How do QPR best utilise their most creative asset?