by, 11-03-2009 at 08:46 PM (953 Views)
Saturday 14th March 2009
St Mary’s Stadium
Referee: M Jones
Southampton (23rd) V Queens Park Rangers (11th)
After a disappointing 2-0 defeat at Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday, Queens Park Rangers travel to the St Mary’s Stadium to face Mark Wotte’s struggling Southampton side. Without a win in eight matches and with Paulo Sousa’s job reportedly hanging by a thread, the Rs simply have to get back to winning ways.
Southampton are a club struggling both on and off the pitch. Last season, under manager, Nigel Pearson, the Saints narrowly escaped relegation, ensuring their safety on the last day of the campaign with a 3-2 victory over Sheffield United.
However, due to financial reasons, Nigel Pearson was forced to leave the Saints during the summer. His replacement came as a surprise to many: Dutch coach, Jan Poortvliet. Instead of signing proven Championship quality, he put his faith in the youngsters. Although the likes of Adam Lallana, Andrew Surman and David McGoldrick impressed, the Saints’ side lacked experience and the team started the 2008/09 campaign very badly.
With the club in 23rd place, Poortvliet resigned on the 17th January 2009, with Mark Wotte being appointed as his replacement. Since then, the Saints’ results have improved, with impressive victories over Preston, Cardiff and Ipswich. However, they remain in 23rd position in the league and cannot afford to lose on Saturday against an off-form Queens Park Rangers side.
Men to watch
Southampton’s star man is forward, David McGoldrick, who at the age of 21 has already made a massive impact at the St Mary’s Stadium. He has netted ten times this season and the Saints will need him to keep scoring if they are to avoid relegation. Without doubt, McGoldrick has a bright future ahead of him.
Marek Saganowski could partner McGoldrick in attack. The Polish international joined Southampton in 2007 and has since made over 50 appearances. The 30 year-old has put away six goals this season.
Wotte also has the talented, Adam Lallana, at his disposal. The 20 year-old scored against Queens Park Rangers earlier this season and his creativity and eye for goal will certainly pose a threat to the Rs’ defence on Saturday.
In midfield, the Saints have Andrew Surman. The versatile 22 year-old, who can also fill in at left-back, has earned himself a call-up to the England U-21 side as a result of his impressive performances. He will certainly be a threat to the QPR defence on Saturday afternoon.
32 year-old Jason Euell signed for Southampton during August 2007. The former Wimbledon man usually plays in defensive midfield. He has also had spells with Charlton and Middlesbrough. As well as Euell, Wotte could select 23 year-old Simon Gillett in the middle of the park. The hard-working midfielder is a talented set-piece taker.
At left-back, the Saints have Rudi Skacel. The talented 29 year-old, who can also play in midfield, joined the club in 2005 from Hearts, where he had hit an astonishing total of 16 goals from midfield in one season. The Czech Republic international has also played for Panathinaikos and Hertha Berlin.
In central defence, the Saints have the tall, strong, Jan-Paul Saeijs, who signed for the club during this year’s January transfer window. The 30 year-old Dutch centre-half has also had periods with ADO Den Haag and Roda JC.
Chris Perry usually partners Saeijs in the heart of defence. The 35 year-old has had spells with Wimbledon, Tottenham, Charlton, West Brom and Luton before signing for the Saints in March 2008. Perhaps the likes of Wayne Routledge can expose Perry’s lack of pace on Saturday.
In goal, Southampton have solid keeper, Kelvin Davis, who performed brilliantly during the fixture at Loftus Road earlier this season. The 32 year-old played for Luton, Wimbledon, Ipswich and Sunderland before joining the Saints in 2006.
September 2007 – In QPR’s first match since the tragic death of Ray Jones, Southampton cruised to a 3-0 victory at Loftus Road. Gregorz Rasiak opened the scoring in the 18th minute, heading home at the far-post from Youssef Safri’s corner. The Saints striker got his second ten minutes later, smashing home from close-range. The Rs couldn’t get back into the game and Bradley Wright-Phillips sealed the victory just after the break, nodding home Nathan Dyer’s cross.
QPR Captain, Adam Bolder: “It's been a difficult week and one of the worst games I've played in. But the events are no excuse for our performance. We're still a professional team and we should have done better. We were second in every department. What happened should have spurred us on, but didn't, for whatever reason.”
Queens Park Rangers 0-3 Southampton
February 2008 – A Patrick Agyemang brace helped Queens Park Rangers to a 3-2 victory over Southampton at the St Mary’s Stadium. The Saints took the lead when Darren Powell converted Adam Hamill’s cross. However, Martin Rowlands equalised in the 38th minute, slotting home from close-range. Agyemang put the Rs into the lead, capitalising on an error from Jermaine Wright. The QPR striker made it 3-1 after the break, pouncing on an error from the goalkeeper and calmly flicking the ball into the net. Youssef Safri was sent off for a late tackle and Stern John scored a late consolation goal but it was too late.
QPR Manager, Luigi De Canio: "Southampton are a good team with good players but the behaviour of the QPR players, even after we let in an early goal, was excellent. We regained the right mentality and dominated the game."
Southampton 2-3 Queens Park Rangers
September 2008 – Two goals from former Southampton striker, Dexter Blackstock, helped QPR to a comfortable 4-1 victory over the Saints at Loftus Road. Blackstock opened the scoring after just 40 seconds, smashing home from close-range. Ollie Lancashire was then dismissed for a sliding challenge on Damien Delaney. However, the Saints equalised just after the break, Adam Lallana slotting home after a good passing movement. Damion Stewart restored Rangers’ lead, despite being in an offside position, before Patrick Agyemang sealed the victory with a fine finish.
QPR Manager, Iain Dowie: "It's not the best we've played, not by a long stretch.
Southampton deserve credit for that though. They played with great freedom and popped the ball about really well."
QPR 4-1 Southampton
Queens Park Rangers: DLLDL (Last Match – Doncaster 2-0 QPR).
Southampton: WWLDD (Southampton 1-1 Derby County).
Lee Cook has missed the last few games through an injury. I really don’t know whether he will be back in time for the Southampton game –there has been no information on the official website about this. Heidar Helguson did not play last Tuesday night after picking up an injury during training. Rowan Vine, Akos Buzsaky, Patrick Agyemang and Martin Rowlands remain long-term absentees.
Unfortunately, at the moment, I just can’t see QPR scoring. The Rs lack a cutting edge up front and it has cost them so many points this season. Southampton’s defence did look vulnerable when the two sides met last year at Loftus Road, so this could be the perfect opportunity for Rangers to end their goalscoring drought. However, I’m afraid that after some awful performances from Sousa’s side over the past few weeks, I’m going to go for a 1-0 victory to the Saints.
Southampton 1-0 QPR
My match previews and reports are also available at www.wearetherangersboys.com.