Match Preview: Queens Park Rangers vs. Newcastle United

WIGAN, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: Joey Barton, the new signing of Queens Park Rangers, watches from the stands during the Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Queens Park Rangers at the DW Stadium on August 27, 2011 in Wigan, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Newcastle United will travel to Loftus Road on Monday to face Queens Park Rangers for the first time since both teams were in the Championship in 2009-10.  Newcastle defeated 10-man QPR 1-0 on a Peter Lovenkrands goal in the last match of the season.  This week's match preview follows the jump.

Queens Park Rangers

Currently: 15th place, 1-0-2, 3 pts

Out: None

Questionable: None

Projected XI: Kenny | Young, Ferdinand, Hall, Traore | Wright-Phillips, Barton, Derry, Faurlin, Taarabt | Campbell

Projected Subs: Murphy, Agyemang, Andrade, Bothroyd, Puncheon, Hill, Smith

Newcastle United FC

Currently: 6th place, 2-1-0, 7 pts

Out: Hatem Ben Arfa (ankle), Mike Williamson (ankle), Mehdi Abeid (knee), Haris Vuckic (hand)

Questionable: Steve Harper (knee), Shola Ameobi (hip), Danny Guthrie (ankle)

Projected XI: Krul | Simpson, STaylor, Coloccini, RTaylor | Obertan, Tiote, Cabaye, Jonas | Shola, Best

Projected Subs: Elliot, Santon, Ferguson, Marveaux, Gosling, Lovenkrands, Ba

Match Official: Phil Dowd

The Opponent

Neil Warnock's Queens Park Rangers have had a somewhat rude welcome back to the Premier League.  They earned all three of their points in a rather unimpressive victory over an underachieving Everton club, and have otherwise looked like they don't exactly belong.  Still, they were very active in the transfer window, adding players such as Shaun Wright-Phillips and, of course, Joey Barton.  It's hard to know exactly what to expect from the new-look QPR, as they honestly need to improve in all aspects of the game, but it's likely that they'll play with a lot of men behind the ball and take a high volume of (not necessarily quality) shots.

Developments

Both teams have new players to break in, though in Newcastle's case there's really only one player who has yet to be integrated into the squad.  Davide Santon spent much of the international break with the Italian U-21s, so despite the layoff, he is not familiar enough with the other players to garner a start.  This means two things: (1) Danny Simpson and Ryan Taylor will be playing for their lives, and (2) Newcastle will be fielding eleven players that are familiar with each other (and have had success as a unit), while QPR will likely have some chemistry problems as several new faces try to work together cohesively.  Meanwhile, all eyes will be on the sniveling Joey Barton as he tries to stick it to his old club.  The Toon Army supports Barton now, but it will be interesting to see how fast they jump ship when he wags his finger in Cheik Tiote's face after a tough challenge.

Expectations

Newcastle cannot possibly keep up this torrid pace to start the season, but against a newly promoted side that so far has looked every bit the part, it would truly be a disappointment if they didn't come away with a win, much less a point.  QPR are currently the betting favorites, but that's got to be more of a reflection of public sentiment regarding the teams' transfer windows, rather than how they match up with each other.

Keys to Victory

  1. The team must not let Joey Barton get under their skin.  That's Barton's game, of course, but it will be even more of a factor if the Magpies are intent on proving themselves rather than playing their own game.
  2. Frustrate Adel Taarabt.  It's a bit of a different game now that QPR have added more weapons, but as the mainstay, the Hoops will still live and die to a certain extent based on Taarabt's performance.  So far this season, he's launched 14 shots without scoring one of them, and he's bound to be feeling the pressure to find the score sheet.  
  3. Score first.  It's always advisable, obviously, but QPR are capable of playing shutdown defense if they happen to find the back of the net.  Newcastle will have their backs against the wall if they find themselves down at any point in this road fixture.

Fearless Predictions

  • Leon Best will score two goals, one of which will be called back because he was offside.
  • Joey Barton will be involved in an altercation...with one of his own teammates.
  • Tony Fernandes will get confused during the match as a player named Ferdinand suits up for his own team, so he'll make a handshake agreement with Mike Ashley to sell him to Newcastle in January.  Of course, the deal will fall apart at the last minute.
  • QPR 0, NUFC 1
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