QPR Victory Heats Up Relegation Battle

by Sean Bell

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

QPR’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal on Saturday has given them an excellent chance of retaining their Premier League status. With Blackburn due to host Manchester United on Monday evening, four teams are currently within one point of each other above the doomed Wolverhampton Wanderers.

It was Rangers’ finest performance of the season and finally gave supporters a taste of what Mark Hughes and his expensively assembled squad might bring to the club. With Djibril Cisse suspended, Hughes opted to play with Bobby Zamora as a lone striker. The success of the formation was dependent upon the five-man midfield playing behind him, and with Joey Barton returning to have his best game for Rangers and Adel Taarabt scoring his first goal of the season, everything clicked into place.

The star performer was Samba Diakite, Hughes’ on loan signing from Nancy, who has looked raw but promising since being sent off after just 33 minutes of his Premier League debut against Fulham. Against Arsenal he played like Patrick Viera in his Gunners’ pomp, long limbs ranging across the whole pitch, and was rewarded by scoring the winning goal.

Rangers’ problem is that the other sides at the wrong end of the table have also started winning too. With matches still to come away to both Manchester clubs and at home to Spurs, time is running out for Hughes’ team. It is often said that Hughes is slow to have an immediate effect upon the teams he manages and it is fair to say that he initially struggled to win Rangers’ supporters over with a series of underwhelming performances in his first couple of months in the job.

Although Rangers came from behind to beat Liverpool, the first seventy minutes of the game were pretty dire from a Rangers perspective and was followed up by an abject display away to Sunderland. But the manner of the victory against Arsenal suggests that the relegation battle is now down to any two sides from five going down (including Aston Villa who are only four points above Bolton at the time of writing). Rangers next match is away to Manchester United when they will need to call upon the spirit of Dennis Bailey and his New Year’s Day hat-trick at Old Trafford if they are to continue mounting a successful fight against the drop.


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