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Cardiff v QPR - It's a big weekend for...
Cardiff v QPR - It's a big weekend for...
Friday, 18th Sep 2009 16:11

With QPR back in action this weekend and facing a daunting trip to high flying Cardiff Ash takes his usual look at the key factors that could decide this Championship clash.

Real tests:
So far this campaign Rangers have played Blackpool, Plymouth , Nottingham Forest , Bristol City , Scunthorpe and Peterborough . Without the possible exception of City, these are names that you probably won’t be expecting to see contest the top six places at the end of the season, even in a tough competitive division like the Championship. Looking at those fixtures at the start of the season, we’d have probably expected up to be higher then the 14th place we currently find ourselves in, but as we all know we have so far failed to live up to the billing this squad has had from both management and fans alike. True, had our game on Tuesday night not be a casualty to the weather, then we may now find ourselves three points better off and in the top half of the table, nevertheless Jim Magilton and his Rangers boys face their hardest task to date this weekend as they travel to Wales to play Cardiff, in our first visit to the swanky new Cardiff City stadium. Dave Jones’ men currently sit in fourth place, having lost only twice thus far this season and have the division’s top scorer in Michael Chopra. Seeing as we struggled to overcome teams that now occupy the bottom six of the league, it will be interesting to see how Magilton and his no doubt vastly changed team approach this one. We did rather well against the eventual promoted teams last year but many will still expect to leave Wales on Saturday empty handed. But if Rangers do manage to nick a draw or indeed all three points then it could be the perfect tonic for the side to kick-on and show we really do mean business this season. I’m not holding my breath though.
Cardiff currently shortest priced 8/1 fifth favourites for the Championship with Ladbrokes, QPR currently longest price 40/1 with Victor Chandler

Three days after the trip to Cardiff , we have the little matter of a proper West London derby against our beloved neighbours Chelsea in the Carling Cup Third Round. A game that you’d think as a player you would relish playing in, after all it’s not only a match against the Premier League leaders and arguably the best team in England right now (that was painful to say), but it’s a derby match and one us Rangers fans cant wait for, so the atmosphere should be quite something. The first XI Magilton picks will no doubt have this in the back of their minds and will be out to impress and play their way into the manager’s ever changing starting eleven for Wednesday night. Not that should need an excuse to impress, because three points on Saturday is still much more important then an upset at Stamford Bridge as good as it would be, and that should come first. But if these boys really do think they can play at the highest level regardless if it’s with Rangers or elsewhere, then showing what they can do against one of the so-called ‘big four’ should hopefully bring out the best in them both on Saturday and then on Tuesday night.
Chelsea are 3/13, QPR 5/1 and longer to win on Wednesday

Peter Ramage:
It’s been quite the turn around for Peter Ramage. Last season the right-back signed from Newcastle in the summer was constantly targeted by the Rangers boo-boys for his performances. He came with a reputation of someone with genuine experience of top-flight football and someone who was just unlucky to not be getting into the Newcastle team (such is their wealth of quality defenders) and was seeking a new challenge – that being taking QPR into the Premier League. Unfortunately as we found out during last year, Ramage can be found wanting at both ends of the pitch, especially when it came to crossing a ball, and was easy to see why Kevin Keegan had let him go and how he’s found himself in the Championship. Fast forward twelve months and it seems Ramage has won round the Loftus Road faithful and would go as far as to say that other then Wayne Routledge has been our best player so far this campaign. Of course the equaliser on the opening day got him off to a good start but his all round game this season has vastly improved and you can rarely fault him for his attitude on the pitch. He’s forward play is still not his best asset but it’s coming. Bearing that in mind I’d love to know how he felt last week when he was relegated to the bench just so Magilton could accommodate both Mikele Leigertwood and new signing Ben Watson in the same line-up. Not happy I’d guess. Now I don’t really have a problem with Legs at right back and think he can do a comfortable job there but is it really fair to drop one of the few players who had been playing somewhere near his full potential? How good is that for morale? Especially when the reason given was that he thought Mikele would combat the threat of Peterborough ’s Tommy Williams – that the same Williams who provided the cross for Posh’s opener. Whether or not Ramage will back in the team this Saturday is something only Magilton knows and I’m not saying that Ramage but should always be an automatic choice, but surely if someone’s playing well they should keep their spot in the first XI. Hopefully if Ramage is at right-back on Saturday then he will continue this good form and help keep his old team-mate Chopra quiet.
QPR best priced 10/3 to keep a clean sheet with Paddy Power

Wayne Routledge:
Talking of players playing well, Rangers best player so far this year is easily the former Crystal Palace winger. We are finally beginning to see the player we all thought we’d signed in January, a player that can really be a star in this division. His goal last time out was his fifth of the season already from right wing (Ronaldo eat your heart out!) and his all around contribution this season has pretty much been head and shoulders above anyone else in a hooped shirt so far. On Saturday he comes up against the club he snubbed for QPR at the start of the year despite previously being on loan with them at the back end of 2008. Routledge will no doubt be in for some stick from the City fans who still think he chose the money over a move to Wales but what better way to shut them up then another stellar performance and possibly three points.
Longest price for first goal 16/1 with 888Sport

Jim Magilton:
I’m not going to delve even more into the whole ‘crashgate’ scandal because I think enough has already been said and no doubt will be next week. But with Flavio stepping away from F1 one way or another will mean he will have a lot more time on his hands for his other ‘projects’, which maybe bad news for our man in the dugout. With still only league one win to his name since taking over, having the eccentric owner around the place on a more regular basis could put even more pressure on Magilton to bring success to Loftus Road – and quickly. Three points on Saturday against a team quite fancied in this league would at least give him some early breathing space and some calm before the possible storm from the fallout of crashgate and Flavio’s reaction to it.
QPR are 18/5 to win with Tote, cardiff are odds on with most bookies but evens with Coral, the draw is best price 5/2 with Bet Fred

Photo: Action Images

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