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Friday, April 20, 2007

Cardiff Preview of QPR Game


This Saturday's opponents Queen's Park Rangers are currently just four points clear of the relegation zone with three matches left - against us at Loftus Road on Saturday, away to Wolverhampton Wanderers on April 28th, and then at home to Stoke City in their final match on May 6th.

Rangers have shown improved form since mid-March with four wins, two draws and two defeats including last Saturday's 2-1 reverse at Sunderland. They will be without former Bluebirds winger Gareth Ainsworth on Saturday - a leg injury against Luton on Easter Monday against Luton Town kept him out last weekend, while on-loan midfielder Inigo Idiakez played his final game for Rangers as substitute at Sunderland last weekend before returning to Southampton.

Although Dexter Blackstock did not score last Saturday, he has been in good form in recent weeks with four goals in his previous four matches, while midfielder Martin Rowlands was back in the line-up last weekend in place of Ainsworth, and scored from the penalty spot at Sunderland.

Rangers, who finished in 21st place last season, eight points clear of the bottom three, currently average 12,766 for home Championship games, and their largest attendance of the season so far is 15,188 for the 1-1 draw against Sheffield Wednesday on March 10th.

We will be looking to avoid a Championship "double" against us this weekend - Rangers were 1-0 winners at Ninian Park on November 17th with a goal from substitute Ray Jones.

Our last two visits to Loftus Road have ended in 1-0 defeats via goals from Marc Nygaard and Danny Shittu - our last away victory coming the year of our promotion to the Championship when Robert Earnshaw bagged three with Andy Campbell getting a last minute fourth in a 4-0 win. Cardiff Official

Cardiff City supporters will probably be glad to see the back of Queens Park Rangers this season.
For it was the R's who instigated their rapid mid-season decline in November, when a last-gasp Ray Jones goal dealt the then table-toppers a huge blow in their quest for an automatic promotion place.

After a flying start to the campaign, Dave Jones' side have struggled in the second half of the season.

The statistics don't lie and it appears that when star-man Michael Chopra fails to hit the back of the net, Cardiff fail to fire.

Indeed, it's no coincidence that the former Newcastle front-man's goal drought around the turn of the year - which saw him fail to net in seven matches in all competitions - coincided with the Bluebirds' sudden decline in form.

If truth be known, they've struggled ever since and at the time of writing, six points currently separate them from the fourth and final play-off spot.

Jones bemoaned his side's failure to make that extra push for the Premiership after two Easter defeats hammered their play-off hopes.

"We're up there, but it's disappointing to be just short," he said after the 2-0 defeat at Burnley.

"We've come a long way in a short time, people forget that. We're a brand new team, rebuilding with a lot of kids.

"But I wish we had the determination to push on, that's where we're short. Some players may not get this chance again."

The Bluebirds have three games left - but all hope of a play-off place appears to have faded after the stalemate with Stoke City last weekend.

Top scorer (league goals only): Michael CHOPRA 22

Last league game:
Cardiff City 1, Stoke City 1.
Coca Cola Championship.
April 14th 2007.
Cardiff City: Forde, McNaughton, Purse (Gilbert 79), Johnson, Gunter, Whittingham, McPhail, Parry (Flood 60), Ledley, Chopra, Thompson.
Subs Not Used: Alexander, Feeney, Blake.

Bluebirds gaffer Dave Jones: "I thought we deserved a point as we had most of the possession, but we must believe in the way we play.
"We are a young side and we have to think that the younger players will learn from their mistakes quickly.
"But if I don't think they will reach the level I require I won't hesitate to shift them out and bring new players in, this club will continue to grow."

Superhoopsbet.co.uk match odds:
QPR 11/10
Cardiff City 2/1
Draw 12/5

Hot-shot Michael Chopra

Star Man: Michael CHOPRA
A scorer of 22 goals in all competitions so far this season, Michael Chopra is widely regarded as England's brightest prospect outside the top-flight.
After falling down the pecking order at Newcastle United, the Geordie ace joined the Bluebirds in June 2006 for an initial fee of £500,000.
The 23 year-old - who has been capped at England Under-21 level - is already being touted for senior honours in the not too distant future.

Head to head: QPR wins: 22
Cardiff wins: 20
Draws: 9

Last league meeting:
Cardiff City 0, Queens Park Rangers 1 (Jones).
Coca Cola Championship.
November 17th 2006.


Our referee this Saturday afternoon at QPR is none other than Uriah Rennie.

The Premiership official has taken charge of thirty nine games this season, eleven of them in the Championship. From his thirty nine games to date he has shown one hundred and twenty three yellow cards plus five reds, the last coming to Jamie Forresterof League Two outfit Lincoln City in their 3-1 loss to Notts County in February.

Although this will be the first time in 2006/07 that he will referee Cardiff, Rennie has conducted a QPR match - their 2-1 home loss to Sunderland at the end of November.

The last time we saw him stand in the middle was our 3-1 home loss to Watford last season. Prior connections stretch back to our Division Two Promotion year and an away win at Colchester.

According to Wikipedia, standing at over 6 ft 2 in tall and weighing 16 stone (100 kg), Rennie practices both kick-boxing and aikido. Keith Hackett, head of the Professional Game Match Officials Board has described him as "the fittest referee we have ever seen on the national and world scene."

In short, don't mess with the ref. Cardiff

See Also: Hammanless Cardiff Visit Loftus Road

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