QPR v Fulham: Head to head - Who would you choose ahead of the new campaign?
There's no love loss in west London when it comes to QPR and Fulham, especially as the Cottagers comprehensively came out on top in their two meetings last season. But who would make it into your ideal starting XI from the two squads?
Below is a comprehensive comparison of the expected QPR and Fulham starting XIs ahead of the new season. Clint Dempsey has been excluded from the Fulham line-up as he is expected to complete his move to Liverpool before the start of the season.
Goalkeeper: Mark Schwarzer vs Rob Green
QPR signed Rob Green on a free transfer from West Ham to replace the Leeds bound Paddy Kenny. Although prone to the odd high profile error, Green is an all round solid keeper who represents an improvement on Kenny. Mark Schwarzer may be nearly 40, but he continues to be a key performer for Fulham and he gets the nod over Green here.
Right Back: Stephen Kelly vs Nedum Onouha
Kelly has developed into a competent, if unspectacular, right back since spending time on loan at QPR as a youngster over a decade ago. Nedum Onouha put in a string of impressive displays for the R’s in the second half of last season after signing from Manchester City. After finding opportunities limited at the Etihad, he finally got an extended run of Premier League games after joining QPR and continued to impress as the season progressed. R’s fans will be hoping for a big season from the former England U-21 international.
Left Back: John Arne Riise vs Fabio Da-Silva
Riise is best known as an attacking left back with an eye for goal from his time at Liverpool, but has yet to register on the score sheet at Fulham. Mark Hughes has used his Manchester United connections to sign Fabio on a year’s loan. Extremely calm on the ball and always willing to provide an option on the overlap, the pacey left back will be keen to prove to Sir Alex that he is Premier League standard and gets the vote over Riise.
Centre Back: Brede Hangeland vs Anton Ferdinand
Anton Ferdinand performed well last season despite the John Terry court case hanging over him. Having now made more than 200 Premier League appearances Ferdinand is experienced at this level, but performs best when next to a commanding centre half who takes responsibility for leading the line. Brede Hangeland is someone who would make an ideal partner for Ferdinand. A leader at the back, he takes responsibility for marshaling the defence, and with the added bonus of always being a threat from set pieces, Hangeland has to be the choice here.
Centre Back: Philippe Senderos vs Clint Hill
Clint Hill was QPR’s Fans and Players' Player of the year last season, which must have exceeded even his own expectations for a campaign which began with a sending off in the 4-0 home defeat to Bolton and a loan spell at Nottingham Forest. Hill is a player who never lets you down and is a great personality at the club, but his lack of pace is a serious limitation in the Premier League. Philppe Senderos is another player not blessed with pace, but his top-flight experience gives him the edge over Hill.
Left Midfield: Bryan Ruiz vs Adel Taarabt
Bryan Ruiz has said that he is ready to show his potential this season after a mediocre start to his Fulham career, following his £11 million move from FC Twente. A player with a good goal-scoring record in Holland, Ruiz only netted twice last season. Adel Taarabt was the reason QPR won the Championship in 2011, his 19 goals and 19 assists firing QPR to the title. Given his form in the Championship, last year was something of a disappointment for Taarabt. Continuous pre-season speculation about a move to PSG seemed to turn his head and he also only managed two goals last season (although both were vital in narrow wins over Arsenal and Tottenham). Both Ruiz and Taarabt will be looking to improve on last season, and with a full trouble free pre-season and what appears to be a much improved attitude, Adel Taarabt should be the happier man at the end of the season.
Right Midfield: Damien Duff vs Junior Hoillett
Damien Duff was once one of the most feared wide men in the Premier League, but sadly for Fulham fans that was more than five years ago. Now aged 33, Duff has lost the pace that his game was based on. Signing Junior Hoillett represented a major coup for QPR, given the size of the other clubs reportedly interested. Hoillett easily takes his position over Duff.
Central Midfield: Moussa Dembele vs Ji-Sung Park
If Fulham manage to keep hold of Moussa Dembele this summer it will be one of Martin Jol’s best bits of business. Another superb season from the man brought to the Premier League by Mark Hughes, has lead to Manchester United and Tottenham being linked with moves for him. Now more often deployed as a midfielder, Dembele has the ability to create time and space on the ball and has the eye for a killer pass.
Often an unsung hero, versatility and consistency meant that Ji-Sung Park was seen as a player for the big games by Alex Ferguson during his time at Old Trafford. Cynics have suggested that Tony Fernandes sanctioned the signing of Park in order to increase links between QPR and his Air Asia business. There is no doubt that Park will improve QPR’s commercial value off the pitch, but he will also be a big asset on it, with his experience being extremely valuable. Dembele has all the attributes to succeed at the very top level and edges it over Park here.
Central Midfield: Mahamadou Diarra vs Samba Diakite
International teammates for Mali, Samba Diakite and Mahamadou Diarra are players in a similar mould – both solid powerful big tackling midfielders who protect the defence. Diarra has a wealth of experience having won back-to-back La Liga titles at Real Madrid and performed well after signing on a free transfer from Monaco in the middle of last season. After taking time to learn about the ways of the Premier League, Samba Diakite became a pivotal part of the QPR team, before missing the end of season run in with a virus. Despite being the signing with the lowest profile, at £3.2 million Diakite has been QPR’s most expensive signing to date this summer, and QPR fans will be desperate for him to continue his form from last season. Samba Diakite’s agility makes him the choice here.
Centre Forward: Mladen Petric vs Bobby Zamora
If you asked the majority of Premier League fans about Mladen Petric, not many would claim to know much about him. However, Petric has tasted success on English soil before. He is the man who scored the winner in a 3-2 Croatia win at Wembley to stop England qualifying for Euro 2008. Bobby Zamora is the subject of much hatred at the Cottage after defecting to QPR. A player who excels in leading the line and bringing others in to play, Zamora could be an important link between the likes of Hoillett, Taarabt and Cisse.
There will be a lot of responsibility on Petric to score the goals to replace Clint Dempsey and whilst he is unlikely to manage that, Mladen Petric will be of greater importance to Fulham than Bobby Zamora is to QPR and gets the vote here.
Centre Forward: Hugo Rodallega vs Djibril Cisse
Djibril Cisse enjoyed a colourful start to his QPR career, scoring in six of the eight games he played in last season, and getting sent off in the other two. His pace and ferocious strike are attributes that mean he should be able to fire the goals to ensure the Hoops are well clear of the relegation zone next May. Hugo Rodallega scored only two goals in 22 appearances last season, but if he can recapture the form he showed early in his Wigan career he could be a great signing for Martin Jol. Djibril Cisse’s form at the end of last season make him the better bet.
Fulham – Steve Sidwell, Aaron Hughes, Chris Baird and Sascha Riether.
QPR - Andrew Johnson, Shaun Wright- Phillips, Alejandro Faurlin, Armand Traore, Jamie Mackie and Joey Barton.
QPR look to have the greater depth and options within their squad. Alejandro Faurlin, Jamie Mackie and Joey Barton will all expect to be in and around the starting eleven. Fulham on the other hand have good defensive cover but look short of anyone with Premier League experience who could come on and positively change a game. However, don’t be surprised if Martin Jol adds a couple of players before the start of the season.
The two clubs don’t meet until December 15 when Fulham travel to Loftus Road, where QPR will look to improve on last year’s showing. If the game plays out as reputations suggest, expect QPR to do just that.
Calling all QPR and Fulham fans: Do you agree with Rob's assessment? Would Rob Green get in your starting XI? What about Bobby Zamora or Andy Johnson? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.
For more QPR articles click here
For more Fulham articles click here