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Queens Park Rangers 2 v 2 Everton
Carabao Cup
Tuesday, 21st September 2021 Kick-off 19:45
Rolling back the years - Preview
Tuesday, 21st Sep 2021 10:00 by Clive Whittingham

Some of QPR's finest moments of the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s have come against Everton, and if Mark Warburton's bright young side can add their own chapter tonight it'll go a long way to lifting the mood after a pair of unlucky defeats.

QPR (3-3-2 DWWDLL 8th) v Everton (3-1-1 WDWWWL 6th)

Rumbelows Cup, third round >>> Tuesday September 21, 2021 >>> Kick Off 19.45 >>> Weather – Warm, sunny, dry >>> Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, Loftus Road, London, W12

Whatever vintage of QPR fan you are, there’s likely an Everton game for you. Top flight mainstays, champions in the 1980s, FA Cup winners in 1990s, they may have been, but the Toffees have often come a cropper against Rangers teams through the generations.

The defeat at Bournemouth last week ended an unbeaten start to the league and cup season at QPR of eight games. That was their best sequence since the fabled side of 1975/76 who went 11 before losing 2-1 at Leeds at the start of October. The recovery from that loss was a spectacular 5-0 demolition of Everton at Loftus Road, with two for Gerry Francis and then three goals spread equally between Givens, Masson and Thomas. Dave Sexton’s team at its absolute finest, destined to be pipped at the league title by post thanks to an Easter slip at Norwich.

In the 1980s, Howard Kendall’s side were reigning league champions when they came to Loftus Road in 85/86 and were sent packing with a 3-0 defeat thanks to a brace from Gary Bannister and one from John Byrne. Two seasons later, now under Colin Harvey, Everton were beaten here again by a Martin Allen goal as Jim Smith’s innovative team in its trend-setting wing back formation led the First Division table with seven wins and a draw to start the season – again, that run hadn’t been bettered until Mark Warburton’s men did it this term.

In the 1990s, Everton were rather tormented by a young Les Ferdinand, who spoke at length in his autobiography about the racist abuse he used to receive at Goodison Park over and above anything he got anywhere else, and his determination to ram it back down their throats on the pitch. While Millwall retain and revel in their reputation for violence and hostility, and Chelsea’s at-all-costs defence of John Terry has ensured the days of the National Front magazine being sold on The Shed at Stamford Bridge haven’t been forgotten, the complete airbrushing of the racist element of Everton’s history must be one of football’s most successful PR jobs. I remember being in the hospitality before the game at Goodison in 1994 when Ferdinand scored twice again and it being a big, big thing that Daniel Amokachi was making his debut that day - certainly a far bigger deal than it should have been in 1994. You literally never here it mentioned in amongst all this ‘People’s Club’ guff. Les rejoiced in goals against them, and wasn’t afraid to say why. Seven goals in six appearances 1992-1995 - well done lads, that really worked out well for you didn't it?

There were plenty of QPR goals to share around. Gerry Francis’ tricky, injury-hit start to life as our manager saw the R’s go eight without a win to begin 1991/92 and although that stopped that rot with a scrambled 1-0 at Luton it was a further month before the first home win was secured at the seventh attempt. Two goal leads had been blown against Chelsea and Palace and when Everton made it 2-1 after earlier goals by Dennis Bailey and Simon Barker the spectre of another surrender loomed large. Barker took care of that, interrupting some clock running by the corner flag with a 20 yarder straight into the top corner to send the Loft into raptures.

Thereafter games with Everton became some of the most memorable of Rangers’ early days in the Premier League. Three QPR players got hat tricks in as many fixtures. Andy Sinton, Christmas 1992, at Loftus Road, sealing a 4-2 win that at one point looked like it might go from 3-0 to 3-3 despite Everton being reduced to nine men with red cards for Neville Southall and Paul Rideout. We truly have always been the same. Rangers won the return 5-3 at Goodison Park, part of Les’ remarkable two hat tricks in three days over the Easter weekend, and then the following season won there 3-0 again with a supremely skilful treble from Bradley Allen. Everton were the opponents on the last day before they tore up the Lower Loft terracing – another goal for Les to win it 2-1, but Devon White deciding he’d had quite enough of a goal mouth scramble and fisting the ball over the line for the first, sending Southall into some sort of public haemorrhage in the process, was easily the highlight of that.

Fast forward to the present day and when the R’s returned to the top flight for the first time in 16 years in 2011 they perhaps wondered what they’d got themselves into when a chaotic summer manifested itself in a 4-0 opening day loss at home to lowly Bolton. The first away match back in the big time was at Everton and QPR, in a putrid orange kit and with Patrick Agyemang up front in the Premier League, secured an incredible 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Tommy Smith right in front of the away end.

Whether there’ll be another one to add to the archives tonight depends largely, as these early League Cup ties so often do, on what sort of teams are fielded. The first bump in the road for Rafa Benitez at Aston Villa at the weekend came amidst a mounting injury list for a squad that was already threadbare on quality once you scratched the surface of it, and has been hamstrung through successive transfer windows by an initial gross overspend on transfer fees and enormous contracts for mediocre players when the new owners moved in. It’s free transfers and fill-ins until some of those monster deals can be offloaded or expired, and any hope of seeing James Rodriguez gliding around in second gear this evening appear to have been scuppered by a career surrendering move to the Middle East.

In that context wouldn’t you just love to see a full strength QPR team, playing in the style this one has adopted, come flying out of the traps and go straight for the throat? A real opportunity to test how good we are; a great showcase for the potential of Dickie, Willock, Chair and others to go even higher and further still with their careers; a chance for that oh so rare cup run and upset in these parts. It would certainly lift the mood after the desperately unfortunate defeats to Bournemouth and Bristol City, which could easily have been two wins on other days with similar performances.

Sadly the pragmatics of the league, and a big game at West Brom on Friday night, will probably weigh heavy on the selection, and perhaps the performance. It’ll certainly be a midfield without its most crucial component, though thankfully Stefan Johansen was pulling up with cramp rather than a hamstring injury late in the day against the Robins. One of the many gut-wrenching elements of that last minute, wholly underserved, loss is how much I’ve found myself looking at the league table (after eight chuffing matches) and the fixture list (with 38 of the fuckers still to play) since. If West Brom proves to be beyond us as well, that puts big pressure on the Preston and Birmingham home games beyond in the context of a promotion push. We spoke a lot in pre-season about the potential dangers and drawbacks of raising expectation levels this season, and already there are apparently serious posts on the dreaded social media calling for Warburton to be replaced and writing off multiple members of a team that is still on for a club record calendar year of wins.

It’s been a long slog over the past few years since we were last sharing a league with Everton, and really at this stage of the season and of this team’s development we should be enjoying the ride and how good they are to watch, particularly in a cup tie like this, not fretting over nascent September league tables and who’s fit or otherwise for some Friday game at West Bromwich Albion.

Links >>> Benitez’s promising start – Interview >>> Smashing the champions – History >>> Friend in charge – Referee >>> Everton Official Website >>> Liverpool Echo – Local Press >>> Grand Old Team – Forum >>> All Together Now – Podcast >>> The Unholy Trinity – Podcast >>> Royal Blue Mersey – Blog >>> Toffee Web – Blog

Below the fold

Team News: Stefan Johansen’s late pull up on Saturday was thankfully just cramp rather than the dreaded hamstring pull, though he’s unlikely to be risked again here with so many games coming all at once. Rangers have rotated their goalkeepers for both League Cup ties so far and will likely do so again, though I notice it was Joe Walsh on the bench at the weekend rather than Jordan Archer. Jimmy Dunne, Albert Adomah, George Thomas and Andre Dozzell are all likely starters here with one eye on the big Friday match at West Brom. Luke Amos has long been pencilled in for a comeback in this game, a year on from his knee explosion away at Bournemouth. Sam Field and Lee Wallace are the long term absentees.

Everton’s initial overspend on mediocre players under their new ownership has painted them into an FFP corner and this summer’s transfer activity was mostly based around low key and underwhelming free transfers while they wait for some of the outlandish contracts they handed out to run down or leave the club. James Rodriguez is front and centre when it comes to earnings and is currently in discussions over a move to Qatar so is unlikely to feature tonight. Their bench at Villa at the weekend (Kenny, Holgate, Gomes, Gordon, Davies, Lonergan, Branthwaite and Simms) wouldn’t have looked out of place in the lower reaches of our division which presents Rafa Benitez with a problem if injuries start to stack up (Pickford, Rich Charlotte’s Son, Calvert-Lewin and Coleman are all out) or he wants to rest players for a cup tie such as this one – Everton were singularly fortunate to dispatch Huddersfield in the previous round. Salomon Rondon, in on a free from China, will likely play up front with Jonjoe Kenny at right back and one or both of Andre Gomes or Jean-Philippe Gbamin giving in form midfielders Allan and Doucoure a rest. If you enjoyed being a guest at Anthony Gordon’s birthday party/Preston v QPR last season then you’ll be overjoyed to hear he may be in for a start here too.

Elsewhere: Everton heading to Loftus Road was just one of several intriguing ties to emerge from the Carabao can at the third round draw in Morrison’s Colindale/Beijing Airport/The International Space Station, sending vulnerable looking Premier League teams on tricky jaunts into Championship country. League leaders and top scorers Jeffers and AJ are welcoming Leeds Reserves, Sheffield Red Stripe finally hitting a bit of form host Southampton Reserves, and the Marxist Hunters will be on the lookout for any perceived lack of patriotism among the ranks of Leicester Reserves. Four very watchable ties there straight off the bat and so of course the televised game tonight is Norwich Reserves against Liverpool Reserves, and tomorrow it’s Man Utd Reserves against West Ham Reserves. So stung were the television companies by the general consensus among football writers that it was some kind of travesty fans across the country weren’t able to watch the second coming of Ronaldo at home to Newcastle last Saturday it seems we’re now going to have to put up with a Sky camera following that egotistical prick whenever he goes for a shit/strays uninvited into some woman’s bedroom.

Six other ties yet to cop a mention tonight include crisis club Oldham and our own Faysal Bettache heading to Spartak Hounslow B, almost certainly the best team they’ve played all season; Burnley Reserves and Rochdale facing off to prove once and for all which is the most desirable place to live in the country; Man City Reserves v Wycombe giving worn out match previews all manner of ‘haves v have nots’ angles for copy; Preston Knob End v Cheltenham and Wigan v Sunderland guaranteeing some chaff in round four; and Watford Reserves v Stoke just because.

Tomorrow it’s finals of the World Pass Completion Championship as Brighton Reserves host Swanselona (bring a good book); a flashback to days of yore as Wimbledon head up to Arsenal Reserves; and a couple more of those oh-so-thrilling all-Premier League games we get to see every bastard week anyway as Chelsea Reserves host Villa Reserves and Wolves Reserves face their old boss Nuno Spirit of St Louis and his new charges Spurs Reserves.

Referee: Premier League opponent means Premier League referee, though probably not the one QPR would have chosen given our record with him. Rangers have been refereed by Kevin Friend through three divisions and 20 years across his career, most recently last season when he (rightly) awarded Preston two penalties against Lee Wallace at Loftus Road in a 2-0 defeat. That made it five defeats in a row for Rangers with Friend, four of them without scoring, and ten without a victory going all the way back to a 1-0 win at Everton in our first away game back in the Premier League in 2011. Details.

Form

QPR: Saturday’s last gasp heartbreaker against Bristol City means QPR have gone from an unbeaten start to the season of eight games (best since 1975) and 11 match sequence without a defeat to two losses in as many games. The last time they lost two games in a row was the end of February when they were beaten late at Birmingham and then at home by Barnsley. They’ve lost only six of 22 since then but two of them have been in the last seven days. Sam McCallum has gone from four goals in 88 senior appearances to two in two, although his goal against Bristol City at the weekend following his one at Bournemouth during the week did interrupt a nice sequence of QPR’s last nine goals coming from nine different players (Willock, Chair, Austin, Dykes, Barbet, Ball, Gray, Johansen, McCallum) – hat tip Chris Guy and @QPRStats. It did continue Rangers’ run of scoring in every match for 21 consecutive games, going back to last season’s 1-0 loss here against Huddersfield, their best record in 59 years. Another sequence continuing – Rangers have now won only three of the last nine games played without injured full back Lee Wallace. QPR have been dumped out (klaxon) of this competition by League One opposition in each of the last three seasons (Plymouth in the first round in 20/21, Portsmouth in the second in 19/20, and Blackpool in the third in 18/19) but having dodged that bullet against Oxford last month they now get a crack at a Premier League team for the first time since 2016/17 when they lost 2-1 to Sunderland at this stage, on this ground after 54-year-old Sandro’s opener was cancelled out by two from Paddy McNair. Rangers haven’t been to round four since the last time they beat a Premier League team in this competition – 2008/09 when a win at Villa Park set up a fourth round match at Man Utd which they lost 1-0 to the standard Old Trafford late penalty. You have to go back to 1995/96, when we were a Premier League side ourselves, for the previous venture that far into the competition, as wins over Oxford and York set up another trip to Villa which we lost 1-0.

Everton: The appointment of Liverpool legend Rafa Benitez as manager did not go down well at Goodison Park over the summer but he was treated to a very soft fixture list to begin with and had, until Saturday, been making the most of that. Victories in the league against Brighton, Burnley and Southampton, a draw with Leeds, and a narrow League Cup win at Championship side Huddersfield, saw at least two Everton goals scored in each game. That was all prior to the weekend trip to Villa when three quickfire second half goals saw them slump to a defeat as injuries start to rack up. Everton haven’t won a major trophy since the FA Cup in 1995, and have become one of those middling Premier League clubs whose ditching out of this competition in particular to focus on goodness only knows what else has horribly devalued the competition. They beat Salford, Fleetwood and West Ham in the behind-closed-doors 2020/21 before losing to Man Utd and disposed of Lincoln, Sheff Wed and Watford the year before prior to going out on penalties to Leicester. There was a narrow two-legged semi-final defeat to Man City in 2015/16 but apart from that they’ve been out of this competition at this stage or earlier in 29 of the last 33 seasons. It’s usually a Premier League team that does it to them mind – their last defeat to lower league opposition in this comp was Norwich’s 2-0 win at Goodison in 2016/17 and prior to that Leeds at Elland Road in 2012. The Toffees knocked QPR out of the FA Cup at Goodison in 2014 but these sides have never played each other in this competition.

Prediction: With all the injuries at Everton, and likely team changes from QPR, if you think you can call this you’re a better man than me. With a clear fixture list I’d like to see QPR really have a go at this, full strength, because with their absentees they’re gettable. The subsequent rounds space out quite nicely between here and Christmas so it wouldn’t be a huge burden. But, with West Brom to come on Friday, two big home games next week, and two defeats requiring a recovery, I suspect we’ll have a scratchy team out and not quite be good enough. Hope not though.

LFW’s Prediction QPR 1-2 Everton. Scorer – Albert Adomah

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NottsQPR added 10:28 - Sep 21
Marxist Hunters..I’ve got to give in - I don’t understand the reference here… can anyone help🤷‍♂️
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enfieldargh added 11:53 - Sep 21
Marxist hunters??!! not bothered as long as we get a knob end
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Northernr added 11:58 - Sep 21
I'm simply taking Millwall at their word that their objection to the 'knee' is nothing to do with race and everything to do with creeping Marxism in society.
1

BrianMcCarthy added 12:19 - Sep 21
Thank God we have Waaaaalllll to protect us from creeping Marxism. It's everywhere!
1

dmm added 13:19 - Sep 21
Millwall fans wouldn't recognise Marxism if Karl himself slapped them around the head with a copy of Das Kapital.
1

062259 added 14:46 - Sep 21
Rich Charlotte’s Son

lol
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TacticalR added 18:45 - Sep 21
Thanks for your preview.

Whatever Everton's squad problems Benítez has (or used to have) a reputation as a specialist in elimination football, even if fifteen years ago Jorge Valdano warned that Benítez and Mourinho's defensive approach was going to ruin the game.
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