FM

May 192013
 

Liverpool v QPR 16:00

 

- Daniel Sturridge scored his first ever professional hat trick in Liverpool’s last league outing to see off Fulham 3-1.

 

- That took Sturridge’s goal tally for the season to 11. He’s one of 25 players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to have scored ten of more Premier League goals this season, and he’s done it in the least amount of minutes on pitch (1248 minutes, averaging a goal every 113 minutes 27 seconds).

 

- Sturridge converted his hat trick from 7 shots at goal with 5 on target – more than any other Liverpool player has in either category this season. Sturridge plagued the Fulham defence, exploiting space by taking 15 touches in the opposition box. He also completed 8 dribbles, more than any other player in the last round of games.

 

- Sturridge’s attacking play was complimented by a tough midfield performance from Lucas and Jordan Henderson. Lucas attempted ten tackles in the game, winning six, the most of any player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, while Henderson was the only player in the Premier League to commit four fouls in the last round of games.

 

- Lucas is now ranked 5th in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for tackles attempted with 121, an incredible feat given he has played just 1957 minutes this season. To put it in context, 4th ranked Robert Snodgrass has taken 3126 minutes to attempt 127 tackles.

 

- Jamie Carragher will wave farewell to his beloved Anfield on Sunday before retiring. He showed what his team mates will be missing in the game against Fulham, completing 64 of 67 passes in the game.

 

- QPR went 1-0 up in their last game against Newcastle before falling to a 2-1 defeat.

 

- QPR did well to disrupt Newcastle’s passing game though, limiting them to a 66% success rate, their lowest of the season. Jermaine Jenas, meanwhile, completed 64 passes in the game, more than any other player on the pitch.

 

- QPR defender Clint Hill has been one of their most impressive performers this season. He has been the fifth busiest defender in the league this season, contributing defensively 342 times across tackles, clearances, blocks and interceptions.

 

- Christopher Samba joined in January and has the best minutes per defensive contribution rating in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, averaging one every 7 minutes 12 seconds.

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May 122013
 

QPR v Newcastle, 15:00         

 

- Relegated QPR showed good fight against Arsenal in their last game, losing 1-0 to an early goal but matching the Gunners for much of the game.

 

- Andros Townsend, in particular, impressed. He completed six dribbles in the game to take the match to Arsenal, the most by a player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for a single game in the last round of matches.

 

- Just as impressive for a midfielder of Townsend’s age and unquestionable attacking ability is his defensive stats this season. Townsend has 31 tackles this season and won 80.6% of them, while committing a foul on average every 6.2 tackles.

 

- Clint Hill worked hard to stop Arsenal from opening the flood gates after the early goal, one of two players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to make four blocks in the last round of games, and the joint third highest in a single game for the whole season.

 

- Hill is now one of five players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to have made 200 or more interceptions this season. Hill has 203 to his name in total this season.

 

- That takes Hill’s defensive contributions this season to 316 across tackles won, interceptions, blocks and clearances, one of five players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to have passed 300, and the one to have done so in the least pitch time (2,626 minutes).

 

- Newcastle risk joining QPR in the relegation zone at the end of the season after a 0-0 draw with West Ham leaves them just three points clear of the drop.

 

- Chieck Tiote is gave his all against West Ham, winning 8 tackles, the 9th highest in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index by a player in a single game this season. He attempted 13 tackles in total, the joint highest by a player in a single game this season. Of the five players who have attempted 13 tackles this season, Tiote’s percentage of them won is third highest.

 

- Tiote has now attempted 100 tackles this season, one of 22 players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to have hit this milestone, although he has the fifth lowest tackles won percentage of these 22 with just 45% of tackles won.

 

- Sylvain Marveaux has an equally impressive, but different defensive stats to his name this season. The Magpies midfielder has the cleanest minutes per foul conceded rate in the league, having played 1091 minutes and committed just two fouls, averaging 545 minutes 30 seconds per goal.

 

- Davide Santon has been Newcastle’s top ranked player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index this season ranked in 97th. He’s won 67.6% of 68 tackles attempted, made 31 clearances and 81 interceptions.

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May 032013
 

QPR v Arsenal, Saturday 17:30 

 

- QPR host Arsenal on Saturday knowing that they will be playing Championship football next season. Harry Redknapp has signaled his intention to stay manager next season, and that he would expect players to do the same. 

 

- Adel Taraabt is one player that Redknapp will undoubtedly want to keep the services of. The talented Moroccan has struggled to convert the chances that he has worked so hard to make for himself this season. With 95 shots at goal Taraabt is the 11th most prolific shooter in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, but has converted just five goals and got just 54.7% of shots on target. That’s an average of 19 shots for every goal scored this season. 

 

- In comparison, today’s opponent Theo Walcott has 12 goals from just 71 shots at goal with 69% on target, averaging 5.9 shots per goal this season. 

 

- Stephane Mbia has also worked hard in midfield for QPR, and is one of 17 players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to have attempted 100 or more tackles. Mbia has attempted 116, thought with just 44% won he has the worst tackle success rate of those 17 players. 

 

- Clint Hill, meanwhile, is ranked 7th in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for clearances with 55 this season 

 

- Arsenal came away from the visit of newly crowned Champions Manchester United with a point last weekend after the game ended a 1-1 draw, Theo Walcott on target for the Gunners. 

 

- Santi Cazorla has been the driving force behind Arsenal’s push for a top four finish this season. The Spanish midfielder has scored 12 goals from 106 shots at goal. He’s one of only 7 players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to have had more than 100 shots at goal this season, and of those seven he has maintained the best shooting accuracy, getting 69.8% of his shots on target. 

 

- Aaron Ramsey may want to borrow Cazorla’s shooting boots against QPR. He is now tied in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index as the player to have had the most shots at goal this season without scoring. Ramsey (along with Sung-Yueng Ki and Jobi McAnuff) has had 34 shots at goal this season without scoring. 

 

- Lukas Podolski can also give Ramsey some tips on troubling goalkeepers. The German striker has the third best shots on target rating in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, discounting players who have had fewer than 40 shots on goal this season. Podolski has got an impressive 72.1% of his shots on target, and Arsenal fans will be looking to him in the absence of the suspended Giroud.

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Apr 292013
 

Following QPR’s relegation from the Premier League this weekend, Jose Bosingwa was seen walking off the pitch with a grin on his face. QPR fans and the press picked up on this and have been full of criticism.

Interestingly enough, none of the media outlets seemed to pick up on the fact Harry Redknapp looked like he couldn’t care less that he had guided another club away from the Premier League.

Redknapp, who the journalists sang “happy birthday” to during a press conference on his birthday last year, has seemed to escape without any criticism and it has today been confirmed he will remain as manager next season.

He has today tried to defend Bosingwa, claiming that “another foreign lad” made him laugh, but that he was upset about them being relegated.

“He wasn’t laughing about the result or getting relegated,” he said. “To start throwing that one about is completely out of order. He was only laughing because one of their players – another foreign lad – came up and said something to him.”

When he took over from Mark Hughes as manager they were 5 points away from getting out of the relegation zone.

“There are a lot of players at this club who earn far too much money for what they are; far, far, far too much money for their ability and what they give to the club,” Redknapp said after taking charge.

After five months in charge that gap between QPR and safety has almost doubled. Who is earning far too much money for their ability and what they give to the club?

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Apr 282013
 

Reading v QPR, 13:30

 

- Despite a second-half goal from Gareth McCleary, Reading were left clinging to their hopes for Premiership football next season after a 2-1 defeat away to Norwich.

 

- Adam Le Fondre’s ability to score goals at vital times could be the key to Reading’s hopes of remaining in the top flight, the ‘super-sub’ chipping in with 10 goals this season. His success has come off the back of a solid work rate and knack of being able to get his shots off in and around the box, given that he’s managed a shot on goal once every 35.6 minutes he’s been on the pitch, a squad-high.

 

- The defensive efforts of Mikele Leigertwood have stood out particularly this season, despite Reading’s struggles at the back. Aside from Matthew Lowton and James McClean, Leigertwood has the best tackle success rate of any player in the Premier League to have made more than 100 attempted challenges, with 66.4% ending in his favour according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

 

- Adrian Mariappa is another who has made something of a name for himself despite Reading’s turbulent season, the Englishman having made the the 5th highest number of defensive contributions of any player in the league this season with 306 according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

 

-  QPR’s status as a Premier League side next year was left in tatters after a 0-2 defeat at home to Stoke left them with an almost impossible mountain to climb between now and the end of the season.

 

- With QPR’s Premier League survival now in more danger than ever, the club may be hard pushed to retain some of their prized assets come the summer. Adel Taarabt is one who has caught the eye in particular, the Moroccan’s quick feet contributing to his 46 dribbles this season, a figure placing him 3rd on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

 

- Captain Clint Hill can certainly not be faulted for a lack of effort or quality in QPR’s long battle this season, the defender acquiring some admirable defensive statistics. He’s averaged a defensive contribution once every 7.9 minutes this season, a best from players with more than 200 to their name.

 

- Stephane Mbia will be desperate to see his tackling statistics improve somewhat before the end of the season. Despite being QPR’s most enthusiastic defender, with 110 attempted challenges to his name, Mbia unfortunately also has the third lowest tackle success rate in the league for players with 100 or more tackles to their name (44.5%).

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Apr 242013
 

As if being relegated wasn’t painful enough for QPR fans, they had to endure the embarrassment of seeing their goalkeeper, Julio Cesar, wearing the shirt of their hated rivals Chelsea.

“I would like to clarify that last night I attended David Luiz’s fancy dress birthday party and as a joke for my friend, my family and I dressed as him,” Cesar said in a statement on QPR’s official website. “I want to assure everyone that absolutely no offence was intended.”

Whilst he may not have wanted to offend anyone, it is unlikely that QPR fans will be as forgiving as he hopes. The rivalry with Chelsea in West London was intensified after the FA found Chelsea captain, John Terry, guilty of racially abusing QPR defender, Anton Ferdinand. Their imminent relegation certainly won’t improve their mood either.

After winning 5 Serie A titles and the European Cup, amongst other trophies at Inter Milan, Cesar was a shock signing for QPR.

“I have many dreams at QPR,” he said upon joining the club. “To play well for the fans, the manager, the chairman and myself. And eventually finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League and then one day win the Premier League. It is possible. A few years ago nobody believed Manchester City would ever win the Premier League. So we have to dream. When you dream, things can happen. That’s the reason I came here.”

QPR are currently bottom of the league, ten points away from safety, with four games left to play.

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Apr 202013
 

QPR v Stoke, 15:00

 

QPR were pushed ever-closer to relegation last weekend as they fell to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of a much strong Everton side at Goodison Park.

 

– Expect Loic Remy to be well-marshalled by Stoke this Saturday should the Potters have done their research on Harry Redknapp’s side. The French striker has made an immediate impact on QPRs ability to threaten in front of goal and already has the best shot accuracy in the Rs squad at 72% from 25 attempts.

 

– Arriving at a club which is likely to struggle in a league as strong as the Premier League would cause many players to go into their shell, but not Esteban Granero. The gifted midfielder has shouldered much of the responsibility in the QPR engine room since his arrival and is now the fulcrum of their attacking play. Granero possesses a squad-high 438 successful passes in the attacking half according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

 

Stephane Mbia’s reading of the game will be crucial this weekend, Stoke being a side who know how to shut up shop and protect a lead once gained. Mbia has the most interceptions of any QPR player this season with 102.

 

Stoke come to this match with their own relegation worries having been outclassed by Manchester Utd to the tune of a 0-2 defeat last weekend.

 

– Tony Pulis will need Geoff Cameron in top form this weekend to ensure his side have some chance of taking a vital three points away from this game. The American defender has by far the best tackle success rate in the Stoke squad, with 71.4% from 91 attempted challenges. Only Aston Villa’s Matthew Lowton can boast a better success rate from more challenges (74.2% from 105) according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

 

– Should he play a role this weekend, Peter Crouch must be careful not to let defensive indiscretions stifle potential opportunities for Stoke. Crouch has committed more fouls than any other Stoke player this season with 42, and should likely stick to doing what he does best rather than tracking back into midfield.

 

Matthew Etherington will be desperate to get some return on his attacking efforts this weekend as Stoke as they league enters its final phase of the season. Etherington has now delivered 39 crosses yet registered 0 assists, the only player in the league who has delivered 35 crosses or more to have done so.

 

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Apr 132013
 

Everton v QPR, 15:00

 

– A late Tottenham goal forced a 2-2 draw and denied Everton all three points in a pulsating encounter at White Hart Lane last weekend.

 

Phil Jagielka’s goal last weekend was a deserved reward for the consistent level of performances he’s been turning in as the season approaches its end. No Everton player has made more defensive contributions than him, his total of 287 complementing his superb 85.9% tackle success rate from 64 challenges.

 

– David Moyes will need Leon Osman involved as much as possible this weekend to try and dictate the terms of possession to what will be a highly motivated and aggressive QPR side. Osman has one of the best passes per minute ratios in the Everton squad, finding a team mates in the opponent’s half on average once every 4.08 minutes.

 

– Everton captain Phil Neville announced that he would be leaving the club at the end of the season, with many speculating that he might possibly move on to another club rather than retire. His performances have certainly been solid enough to suggest that the 36 year old has a couple more years left in him, his tackle success rate of 47.6% from 42 attempts a solid return at this level.

 

– A free kick in the dying embers of stoppage time saw things end in a 1-1 draw and QPR denied a vital win at home to Wigan last weekend. The cruelty was magnified given after Loic Remy’s goal looked to have secured the win in the 86th minute.

 

– Harry Redknapp knows that QPR must take the game to Everton, not just because this is a game they have to win but should they fall behind early away from home they may struggle to ever get back in the game. Bobby Zamora could cause the Everton defence problems with his strength and experience, the striker also being in solid form in front of goal with 71.4% shot accuracy rate from 21 attempts according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

 

Andros Townsend was brought in on loan from Spurs to provide a much-needed attacking option for QPR, yet his performances have suggested he is truly invested in the cause and not seeing the Rs as a mere stopover. He already has the joint best tackle success rate in the QPR squad, coming out on top in 85.7% of his 21 challenges this season.

 

– French striker Loic Remy was bought by Tony Fernandes to do one thing, find the back of the net. Remy has not disappointed and has adapted quickly to the physicality of the Premier League, his five goals a return from his ability to get behind opposition defences and get his shots away. Indeed he’s had an attempt on goal on average once every 31.4 minutes he’s been on the pitch.

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Mar 162013
 

Aston Villa v QPR, 15:00

 

Villa face another crucial relegation battle on Saturday after last weekend beating Reading 2-1. Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor were on target then in what could be a vital result come the end of the season

 

Benteke’s goal was his 12th of the season. With 83 shots on target Benteke has been the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index’s 7th most prolific shooter this season, and with 71.1% of shots on target he is the most accurate of the Premier League’s top 30 shooters.

 

Agbonlahor’s goal was his fourth of the season, but coming from just 20 shots at goal. That surprisingly low figure, averaging a shot every 80 minutes compared to Benteke’s one every 27 minutes. That demonstrates Agbonlahor’s recent assertion that this season he has sacrificed his own goal scoring return to work harder for the team overall.

 

Bradley Guzan also continued to do his utmost to save Villa from the drop with 11 saves against Reading, the joint highest in the Premier League last weekend.

 

– However, QPR are also coming to this match with confidence after beating Sunderland 3-1 in their last outing. Goals from Loic Remy, Andros Townsend and Jermain Jenas gave them a much needed three points, and brought them level on points with Reading.

 

Loic Remy now has three goals in the Premier League for QPR, averaging one every 134 minutes, and having got 9 of his 11 shots at goal on target..

 

Andros Townsend has reveled in playing regular football with QPR, and now averages a pass completed in the opponent’s half every four minutes 55 seconds, and a defensive contribution every 13 minutes 41 seconds.

 

Stephane Mbia did as much as any of the goalscorers to earn that result for QPR. He made 9 tackles in the game, winning 8, a figure bettered only by Bradley Johnson in the last round of games. While across all defensive contributions Clint Hill did more than any other player, contributing 36 times across tackles, interceptions, blocks and clearances

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Mar 112013
 

Bob Chapman once again fills Pete Sixsmith’s outsized shoes to  report on a game the master chose to miss. It started as a day when Bob  and a friend would impress two young Aussie women with a scintillating  show by Sunderland preceded by the delights of a west London gastro-pub. Something went wrong; they endured takeaway KFCs in a foodless boozer  near the Bush and the poor Aussies may never set foot in another  football ground. Meanwhile, Bob was left feeling there’s something  damaging to the health in watching SAFC at this stage of a season …

Pete Sixsmith contacted me last week, to ask whether I could fill in for him at QPR, whilst he went and communed with the  gentry down at Ascot, supporting Shildon in the FA Vase.

Naturally I replied that this posed no problem. However, it does  become a real problem for me when Sunderland play so poorly and lose.  What can you say? As a teacher I write numerous reports all of which  usually have to have a positive slant.

All the same, I will try my best even though my fellow supporters at  Loftus Road suggested I should just send in “rubbish, could well go  down” and leave it at that.

It’s getting to that time of year when my mind is totally preoccupied  with football. Being a Sunderland supporter it’s always the same. Oh for the life when I could just go and watch a match without there being  some underlying threat. I’m sure it does you no good in the long run.

I was greeted by some unusual faces when I arrived at Bedford station.

Kevin Spencer had brought along two female Australian gap year  colleagues for the experience. Being Aussies they preferred Rugby Union  but were quite willing to give “soccer” a go. They told me they went  down to London most weekends.

Choice of pre-match pub was my brother Tim’s. He selected the  Coningham Arms on Uxbridge Road, a traditional boozer only 10 minutes  from Loftus Road. To come through the door at midday to find it  virtually deserted, apart from a man with a strange haircut standing at  the bar seemed bizarre and a little unsettling. Closer, rather  intermittent examination of this haircut revealed a blue and white close crop with a QPR razor cut into it. Was this a sensible choice?

Anyway he turned out to be a really friendly chap and it soon became  clear we had similar opinions. He, like me, couldn’t understand why we  were in such a desperate situation with the squad we have. The beer was  OK but definitely no food was on offer. Food came from the local KFC two doors along. The two rather charming pint-sized landladies didn’t seem  to mind, although our Australian friends certainly seemed bemused.

I like days out in London, but resent having to pay exorbitant ticket prices for matches. The fact that 91 p[er cent of QPR’s income is spent on players’ wages suggests they will have problems should they go down. I dislike clubs like that, although to their credit they do produce a  quality programme.

In an article headed “The numbers game”, Sunderland apparently per game  have 11 shots against an average of 17.  Our average possession is only  44 per cent and we complete one through pass per game. I think this last point is at the crux of our problems, in that we currently don’t have  an adequate midfield.

Unlike other recent matches I felt we deserved nothing from this  game. We only showed one glimpse of quality in the whole 90 minutes. A  Sessegnon break down the right allowed him to get to the bye line and  deliver a quality cross to Johnson at the back post. His drive in was  converted by Fletcher for the opening goal. Once they equalised, rather  fortunately following a deflection off O’Shea, there was only going to  be one winner.

Although we are now playing with Graham and Fletcher up front we seem unable to get up and support them with any conviction. Sessegnon and  Johnston are always double marked when they are on the ball, so we need  to use an alternative strategy. Sadly we don’t seem to have one. Tricky  wingers are always double marked and I couldn’t understand why we didn’t do it yesterday as Colback and Gardner were continually exposed.

We are definitely a much better side when Cattermole is playing. He  drives the team on from the midfield and I feel this is the area that is causing most concern.

If Cattermole had been fit for the season then we wouldn’t be in this mess. Danny Graham had a season in the Premier League with Swansea and  then got found out by defenders. If you do not have pace then ultimately you will struggle. Consequently he spent most of his time on the bench. I believe we have bought a Championship player and the sooner we recall Wickham the better.

Alternatively we should revert back to 4-5-1. You could never predict a  Roy Keane side and MON is the complete opposite. I think you need  something between the two and you don’t play players out of position.   Although we were beaten by two wonder strikes with which Mignolet had no chance, you have to question why those players were able to shoot from  outside the box.

So I am sorry it is not much of a report but I can’t honestly  remember seeing very much football and the resounding response at the  end of the match was justified.

Will we go down? I don’t think so, as I am sure we will pick up the  necessary points of which three against Norwich are essential.

Like Pete Sixsmith against Fulham, my loyalty points mean I have been offered a hospitality  package at the Stadium of Light for the game against Norwich. I have managed to persuade my wife of nearly 23 years to come along for her first match. Let’s hope it’s a win and the  first of many for her – unlike our Aussie friends who went straight home after the match. Was it the “soccer” or was it the Coningham Arms  experience. I may never know!

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Mar 082013
 

QPR v Sunderland 15:00 – EW

 

QPR secured a vital win in their relegation fight, as they beat Southampton 2-1 last weekend. Jay Bothroyd was brought back from loan early by Redknapp last month, while Loic Remy was a January purchase, with both players scoring on Saturday to repay Redknapp’s faith.

 

Bothroyd has needed just 122 minutes to get his first QPR goal, while Remy has averaged 161 minutes for each of his two goals.

 

– Those strike rates already compare well with fellow QPR striker Jamie Mackie has scored twice in 1732 minutes on the pitch this season, while Dijbril Cisse took 1199 minutes to score three goals before leaving QPR in January.

 

Sunderland came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Fulham in their last game, thanks to goals from Craig Gardner and Stephane Sessegnon.

 

Gardner’s goal was his fifth of the season, having come from 45 efforts at goal with 57.8% on target.

 

Sessegnon has also scored five goals this season, coming from a marginally more efficient 43 efforts with a significantly more accurate on target percentage of 67.4%.

 

– The game will see two of the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index’s best players with the ball at their feet. Sessegnon is ranked third for dribbles completed with 38, four behind today’s opponent and league leader Adel Taarabt with 42.

 

Adam Johnson set up Sessegnon’s goal, his 7th assist of the season coming from 76 crosses, the 6th most frequent crosser of the ball in the Barclays Premier League.

 

Gardner’s goal came from a penalty won by January signing Danny Graham. Graham is yet to score his first goal for Sunderland, despite playing 233 minutes for the Black Cats. In that time Graham has hit four shots on target and one off target. Graham’s shots per goal ratio this season at Swansea was 9 shots per goal, but an on target percentage improved from 62.9% to 80% suggests it won’t be long before he’s firing for the Black Cats.

 

Carlos Cuellar has now got the best tackles won percentage in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, with 86.8% of his 53 tackles won, over taking Everton’s Phil Jagielka who’s tackles won percentage is 85.2%.

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Mar 042013
 

Loic Remy joined QPR in the January transfer window and has gone on to score two goals in four games, with one earning a point against West Ham and the other ensuring a win over Southampton.

The Frenchman  was set to join Newcastle United after an agreement had been made between the clubs but a last minute offer from QPR sealed his move to the capital.

QPR are at the bottom of the table and in need of a miracle to avoid relegation which Remy knows may have a negative impact on his Internation career. However, it appears as though the £75k-a-week contract was too good to turn down.

“It has surprised many people,” he said. “It’s in London, with very good conditions. The wage level too, it was interesting. This may be a hindrance to my international career, but I do not see things like that. I will make every effort to maintain the club’s status this season.”

Last season he scored 20 goals for Marseille and the season before it was 17, but at the beginning of this season he struggled for form and fitness. Having gone eight league games without a goal, Marseille decided to cash in on him for £8m, much to his disappointment.

“I didn’t want to go as a failure,” he said. “I wanted to finish the season there and then look elsewhere. I got a chill when I saw that the leaders had made their decision behind my back. When I heard that, I was a little disappointed. They have told me at the last moment, I was hurt.”

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Mar 012013
 

Southampton v QPR, Saturday 15:00

 

Southampton remain three points clear of the relegation zone, despite a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Newcastle in their last game.

 

Morgan Schneiderlin and Rickie Lambert were both on target despite the Saints leaving St James’ Park without a point.

 

Lambert’s Premier League goals for the season now count 12, coming from 65 shots at goal with an accuracy rating of 49.2%. Of the 18 players in the Premier League to have scored 10 or more goals this season, Lambert is the only one to have done so while getting less than half his shots on target.

 

Lambert is also ranked 7th among the Premier League strikers for passes completed in the opposition half, having completed 407 so far this season.

 

– As well as having scored four goals in the Barclays Premier League this season, Schneiderlin is one of three players to have attempted 100 or more tackles. He has now attempted 102 tackles, winning 56.8% of them.

 

– Team mate Nathaniel Clyne has also thrown himself into the tackle on his step up to the Premier League from the Championship. Clyne is ranked 23rd for tackles attempted with 76. His most impressive stat, however, is the percentage of tackles he then wins. Clyne wins the ball from 73.6% of tackles, the second best among the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index’s most prolific tacklers.

 

QPR remain six points adrift at the bottom of the table after suffering a 2-0 defeat at the hands of league leaders Manchester United. Despite the scoreline, QPR threatened on occasion with Loic Remy and Christopher Samba both going close.

 

– QPR’s threat in the game is clear when you consider they forced Nemanja Vidic to be the busiest defender in the Barclays Premier League last weekend, making 27 defensive contributions in total across tackles won, interceptions and clearances.

 

Fabio da Silva sat out the game, but watched his twin brother score one of the goals of the season for Manchester United against his team. Fabio has one 62.1% of his tackles this season, and also made 34 interceptions, averaging 14 minutes 42 seconds per defensive contribution

 

Adel Taraabt continues to show his undoubted talent this season. No player has completed more dribbles, with Taraabt leading the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with a defence terrifying 42 successful runs with the ball.

 

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Feb 232013
 

1) I’m not entirely sure why but prior to the game I felt slightly nervous thinking we’re going to be in for a very tight game and some late drama, with our recent trip to White Hart Lane still vaguely in memory. Seeing the starting XI didn’t help me relax with Rooney only on the bench, Giggs starting centrally and Kagawa nowhere near the squad. Having been offered the chance to go 15 points clear at the top of the league with City to play against Chelsea tomorrow is an opportunity that very rarely presents itself, and so it was crucial that we took full advantage. Although it’s still too early to see its full effect, you’d imagine this victory will have the City players looking at the size of the gap between the two clubs and thinking “there’s no coming back from this now”.

2) Make no mistake; our win today was not exactly plain sailing. Having said that, we did create quite a number of chances but failed to convert a large number of them which had me worried that today was going to be ‘another one of those days’, where everything goes against us. Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney both missed chances after taking a touch when a touch wasn’t needed, a great save stopped Robin van Persie from scoring a peach and Nani missed a couple of headers too, plus a few other chances that went begging. On another day, we’d have been punished for missing so many chances, but fortunately today, none of that matters as we’ve bagged the three points.

3) Whilst it seemed our strikers were having an off-day, our defence put in another solid show with them bagging their third consecutive cleansheet in the Premier League. David De Gea produced the goods too when he was called upon, and so it’s great to see that we’re finally looking like a team that can win without relying on their strikers to score three or four every match. It’s not only at the back where our defence has been ace, but the number of goals scored from our defenders this season has been immense. Although I was impressed with Vidic and Rio at the back, I would still prefer seeing Evans starting ahead of Nemanja as I feel he offers much more going forward.

4) It was over a year ago when I wrote an article regarding the importance of Rafael Da Silva to the Manchester United team, and I’m glad that people are finally starting to see just how good a player he is. He’d be the first to admit that he still has plenty to learn, but as of this moment in time, you’d find it very hard to find a better fullback in the league. His overall contribution to the team is phenomenal and can be best summed up during his ten minute spell today which included him scoring a contender for goal of the season, shortly followed by a clearance off the line to keep us a goal up, and then a delightful cross which Robin van Persie was on the end off. I find it slightly ironic that our two best strikers this season have come from the Brazilian, with the other coming at Anfield. Easily my Man of the Match.

5) On to less promising performances, Danny Welbeck had an odd game yet again. I’m always the first to shower him with praise and I really do think he’s a fantastic little player, plus there’s that little thing about him being an out-and-out Manc which I love, but I do think it’s fair to say that he’s got to have a long look at himself in the mirror. His overall contribution to the team is brilliant, his attitude and work-rate is undisputed but when it comes to his ability in the box, he’s as tame as a kitten. Unless he starts finding the back of the net more often and becomes a more clinical finisher, I hate to say it, but he might not be at his boyhood club for too long. We all know how ruthless Sir Alex can be, but I hope that that isn’t the case here.

6) Someone who has spent their entire career at United and doesn’t look like he’s going to stop any time soon is Ryan Giggs. He didn’t have the best of games with him often leaving his midfield partner doing the running of two men, but what Giggsy lacks, he more than makes up for in other departments. Firstly I’d like to mention the sheer audacity of his lob which came off the bar. It defied physics, in fact, if you’d have seen it in a game of Fifa, you’d have thought it was a glitch! His goal was sensational though, his movement brilliant as he slipped in behind the defender and cooly slotted it past the hapless Cesar. There’s not much else I can say about Ryan that hasn’t already been said though. 999 career games – It’s been a genuine honour watching him grace the pitch every single time.

7) Our next two fixtures will have us hosting both Norwich and Reading respectively at Old Trafford. Although you can take nothing for granted in football, I fully expect us to take six points from both those games. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s only a matter of ticking away individual matches before we can finally take our trophy back from those noisy neighbours. Yes, the Champions League would be great, and the FA Cup a nice bonus too, but all I care about at the moment is making sure we have that twentieth title.

8) The last ten minutes of our game today reminded me a lot of our game against Everton last season due to us already leading in a potential tricky tie with only a few minutes left. Against Everton we played with a certain nativity which saw us throw men forward when all we needed to do was see out the game, and our decision-making came back to bite us on the arse. Today, after slotting in the second, our players had the intelligence to keep the ball and make sure we didn’t concede to save us the hassle of yet another nervy finale. A lot of credit must go to Wayne Rooney who came on and set the tempo with his maturity and experience. Nani too deserves a mention after another fine performance which saw him pass the ball well and making the team tick.

9) The only disappointing news from our game today was seeing Robin van Persie pick up a little niggle which I’m hoping is nothing more than. Going into the final stage of the season, it’s important that we have our main players fit and ready to help see us through all the way to the end. I’m more worried about Phil Jones getting back in time for the Real Madrid game if I’m perfectly honest. Both players will play crucial parts if we’re to knock out the Spanish giants.

10) “Hard to believe it’s not Scholes, it’s Carrick, you know…”

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Feb 232013
 

- QPR remained rooted to the bottom of the Premier League as they were soundly beaten 4-1 away to Swansea. A solitary Bobby Zamora goal will have given little cheer to the R’s dressing room and they face an ever sterner challenge this weekend.

 

Julio Cesar has rightly been garnering rave reviews for some of his performances since joining QPR. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index records him as making 107 saves despite only playing 1687 minutes this season, the lowest of any keeper in the top 15.

 

– Much of the creative responsibility for QPR falls to Adel Taarabt and Man Utd will be keen to shut down his space this weekend. He leads the QPR on numerous attacking front including dribbles (41), crosses (26) and assists (5).

 

– The Moroccan forward is also often QPR’s biggest threat in front of goal, his 77 attempts being almost as many as the next three most prolific shooters in the QPR squad combined (87).

 

Man Utd cruised to a 2-0 victory over Everton as they continue their seemingly unstoppable march towards yet another Premier League title. The ever-green Ryan Giggs slotted home the opening quarter of an hour, followed by yet another Robin van Persie finish just before the break.

 

– Brotherly affection will be suspended on Saturday at Loftus Road and you can guarantee Rafael will be relishing the chance to compete against his twin Fabio. The Man Utd man has certainly had more game time than his twin this season and so it’s unsurprising to see him excelling on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. He’s racked up 84 defensive contributions this season as well as 443 completed passes in the opponent’s half, placing him 4th amongst Premier League right-backs.

 

– Fellow defender Jonny Evans continues to excel and has disrupted the established centre-half partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic with his performances. He currently has the best tackles rate of player in the Utd squad with 68% for 28 challenges.

 

– Should QPR manage to shackle Robin van Persie they will have achieved a feat that few defenders have managed this season. The Dutchman has been irrepressible this term, his 19 goals meaning he has scored from every 4.63 attempts he’s had on goal.

 

– Not to be outdone, forward partner Wayne Rooney has been upping the ante as the season has progressed, completing the third highest number of passes in the opponent’s half in the United squad (471) as well as chipping in with 7 assists.

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Feb 092013
 

Swansea v QPR 15:00

 

Swansea fell to a 1-0 defeat against West Ham in their last Premier League outing, despite a string of fine saves from reserve ‘keeper Gerhard Tremmel who was once again called upon to cover for the injured Michel Vorm.

 

Tremmel has now made 73 saves this season, one every 14 minutes 57 seconds and the fifth highest overall in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

 

– Swansea have been applauded for their attacking play this season, but full back Ben Davies has been quietly impressive in defence, and is one of only five players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to have attempted fifty or more tackles while maintaining a success rate above 75%. He’s attempted 54 tackles, winning 75.9%.

 

Angel Rangel, meanwhile, has been unlucky with his deliveries this season. Rangel has delivered 33 crosses without being credited an assist, more than any other player.

 

Sung Yeung Ki has a minutes per pass completed rating amongst the very best in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. He averages a completed pass in the opposition half every 3 minutes 12 seconds, a rate on a par with the likes of Steven Gerrard and Eden Hazard.

 

QPR got their second 0-0 draw in a row against Norwich in their last game, although they will perhaps be less pleased with this result than the previous game against Manchester City.

 

Adel Taarabt saw his penalty saved in that game and came close with several other efforts. Taarabt has had 73 shots at goal this season, with 58.9% of those on target and 4 goals to his name at a rate of 18.25 shots per goal.

 

Taarabt is ranked second in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for dribbles completed with 37, 4 behind Liverpool’s Luis Suarez.

 

– New signing Christopher Samba also saw an effort cleared off the line to come close to a dream debut. Samba got forward a lot from the back, completing 11 passes in the opposition half during the game.

 

– Goalkeeper Julio Cesar made his 100th save of the season against Norwich, taking his tally to 101 saves at a rate of one every 15 minutes 46 seconds.

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Jan 292013
 

QPR v Man City, 19:45

 

Loic Remy marked his QPR debut with a goal to earn QPR a point against West Ham in their last league match.

 

Remy was also the hardest working player on the pitch for QPR, covering 6.31 miles in total and showing the fresh impetus that new signings can bring in the January window

 

QPR will be hoping Remy’s goal scoring continues. Their current top goal scorer is Adel Taarabt with four goals this season. However, it has taken Taarabt 66 shots to score those goals, a conversion rate of 16.5 shots per goal. That makes Taarabt the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index’s 8th most prolific shooter but the 39th ranked goalscorer.

 

With four goals and four assists, however, Taarabt has contributed directly to 8 of QPR’s 18 goals (44%) this season, showing just how valuable he is for the R’s. He has also completed 478 passes in the opposition half this season, ranked 21st in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, and over 100 more than his next ranked QPR team mate Esteban Granero with 374

 

Taarabt is also ranked third overall in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for dribbles completed this season with 33

 

Manchester City have won their last four Premier League games, including three consecutive clean sheets.

 

Man City goalkeeper can thanks his outfield team mates for making those clean sheets relatively easy to come by this season. The England number one has had to make just 67 saves this season, averaging one every 33 minutes 7 seconds. Compare that to the league’s busiest goalkeeper Aston Villa’s Bradley Guzan who has had to make 130 saves, averaging one every 15 minutes 33 seconds.

 

David Silva scored twice in their most recent victory, a 2-0 defeat of Fulham, to mark a return to last season’s scintillating form for the Spanish midfielder. Of players who have played over 500 minutes this season only Paul Scholes has a better minutes per pass completed rating than Silva. Silva averages a pass completed in his opponent’s half every 2 minutes 10 seconds (compared to Scholes who averages exactly two minutes between each completed pass in the attacking half).

 

That has put Silva third overall in the ranking for most passes completed in the opposition half with 758. Silva’s passing game will be even more crucial as team mate Yaya Toure is away at the Africa Cup of Nations, and he leads the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for passes completed with 916.

 

City covered a total of 66.96 miles in that game, the 8th highest total distance posted by a team in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index this season

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Jan 182013
 

West Ham v QPR 15:00

 

West Ham could only muster a well-below par performance against Sunderland last weekend, as they were soundly beaten 3-0 at the Stadium of Light. Chances were in very short supply until it was too late and Sam Allardyce will have no doubt read his side the riot act ahead of this week’s fixture against fellow struggler QPR.

 

Mohamed Diame is attracting interest from some of the top clubs in the Premier League after being the heartbeat of West Ham’s midfield for much of this season. The dynamic midfielder has a 60% tackle success rate and 23 interceptions to his name.

 

Joe Cole has wasted no time in re-starting his West Ham career, already delivery 8 crosses at a rate of one every 36.5 minutes according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

 

– Not only is Mark Noble regularly the most energetic player on the field for West Ham, consistently covering the most distance this season, he’s also the fulcrum around which their play develops, having completed a squad-high 401 passes in the opponent’s half.

 

– However, Noble will be looking for greater consistency in his deliveries from the flank. He currently has the joint highest total for crosses made for only one assist, with 42.

 

Kevin Nolan loves to break forward with bursts into the box and may find space to work in what has a been a shaky QPR defence this season. He’s the Hammers’ top scorer with 5 goals, a rate of one every 8.4 attempts he has on goal.

 

– No West Ham player has contributed more defensively to his side’s cause than Winston Reid this season, making 172 successful defensive interventions according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

 

QPR managed to grind out a draw against a Tottenham side who are capable of beating anyone on their day, a result which may indicate that their revival under Harry Redknapp is under way. QPR keeper Julio Cesar was in fantastic form, saving a number of Tottenham efforts, and R’s fans will have taken hope from a performance that was full of hard-running and a battling mentality.

 

Adel Taarabt appears to have a new lease on life under Harry Redknapp and he is clearly enjoying his recent purple run of form. He’s getting himself ever-more involved in Rangers’ play, make a squad-high 460 passes in the opponent’s half, as well as chipping in with 4 goals and 3 assists.

 

– Striker David Hoilett stands almost alone among the Premier League’s strikers in having an impressive defensive record to complement his attacking play. The Canadian has a 64% tackle success rate from 38 attempted challenges according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

 

– The rest of the QPR squad will need to show some of the same grit and determination being showcased by their captain Ryan Nelsen if they are to escape relegation come the end of the season. The respected Kiwi defender has been throwing himself in the way of the ball with abandon, blocking 26 times this season.

 

Esteban Granero may have crossed the ball in 22 times this season, but he will be looking for greater end product from his deliveries as the season moves forward. He’s only managed to register 1 assist so far according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

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