QPR fans have not had very much to sing about this season. The media had been enjoying the sensationalization of their disaster as the club failed to win a single game after 16 games in top-flight football. Many times this season, Loftus Road was filled with boos, targeted at Mark Hughes and his ‘negative’ tactics, or even players who seemed so psychologically shackled. A lot of the time, it was hard to believe they were ever professional football players. But at the home game against Fulham, one song rung throughout Loftus Road: Taarabt’s too good for you.
In QPR’s first win of the season, Taarabt proved too much to handle for the visiting London rivals. Besides bagging two goals and nearly producing assists as well had it not been for poor finishing from his teammates, Taarabt had also upped his game when comparing statistics from his previous game against Wigan.
Taarabt was not only finishing his chances better and getting on the score sheet, he was also producing a lot more chances in general. Against Fulham, playing in the hole behind the striker, the Moroccan worked tirelessly to hassle the struggling Fulham defence. He was also winning the ball off his opponents a lot more, which allowed QPR to counter much quicker with an attack that possesses both speed and strength in Taarabt, Mackie, Wright-Phillips and Cisse. Although it is too early to tell if Taarabt’s best position is in the hole rather than left midfield after only one proper game, it is a position we are likely to see tested by Harry Redknapp as he looks to sustain good performances from his players.
Although Taarabt stole the headlines with his sublime individual efforts, another QPR player that gave the team balance was Stephane Mbia. While Taarabt roamed further up the park to create chances for himself and his teammates, Stephane Mbia, together with Alejandro Faurlin, worked tirelessly as defensive cover for the back four. His performance, again compared with his last game against Wigan, was also one that warranted a win for the Hoops.
After one win, QPR fans and players alike are more upbeat. But QPR’s problem has always been consistency. If QPR can continue to create upfront with Taarabt while protecting their defence through Mbia, we might just see Harry Houdini pulling the Londoners away from the relegation battle.