Joey Barton hit back at his critics on Saturday with a stunning performance against Wolves. He passed well, tackled well, ran the game in the middle and even grabbed a scuffed goal. It was nearly a perfect game for the ex-Newcastle and Manchester City player, but it wouldn’t be Joey Barton if there was no controversy to talk about.
After receiving a horrific tackle from ‘Kelvin’ Henry near the final whistle, with the linesman metres away and for some reason not giving a foul, he lay on the floor receiving increasing abuse from the Wolves fans. However, after a nearly perfect game he couldn’t resist showing us his ‘darker side’ and goaded the home fans by reminding them of the score with his hands. The confrontation with Henry continued after the final whistle when apparently Barton reminded Henry of how much money he was earning and that Henry was only a “Sunday league player”.
The Match of the Day viewers then got to see ANOTHER side to Joey, acting the ‘clown’ after he threw a plastic bottle at Shaun Derry’s head during an interview and yet we wonder why he’s not allowed an interview himself? Nothing could be taken away from his or the team’s performance in which they could have been five up by half time. Early goals from new-captain Barton and man of the match Faurlin pretty much secured the win as Wolves struggled to challenge Paddy Kenny’s goal.
Barton did score a goal but what impressed me more this week was his passing; I criticised it against Newcastle but put it down to nerves. This week however, he completed an astonishing 35 out of 42 passes (83%) and made 18 final third passes of which 14 were successful and this really helped QPR create chances on their way to an incredible 17 goal attempts.
QPR once again dominated the midfield and the 5 man midfield certainly seems to be working, the new signings working nicely with the regulars. QPR bettered Wolves on the number of passes and the percentage of accurate passes. 236 out of 324 passes were completed (73%) and once again Warnock has seemed to have axed his long ball tactics for more attractive football. This will please QPR fans no end. The midfield passed the ball well to create chances and were unlucky not to have converted more. They did have to work hard, winning 47 out of 93 possession duals, edging the number of duals won compared to Wolves and this proved important in keeping the balance of the game in QPR’s favour.
Faurlin and Barton in the middle are showing true signs of a chemistry between them and increased the opinion that Warnock’s midfield five will be key to QPR’s success this season. Apart from scoring a brilliant volley from outside the area, two minutes after Barton’s opener, Faurlin also passed the ball very well as his statistics support. He completed 41 of his 49 passes (84%) 27 out of 31 passes were in the Wolves half which showed he was not afraid to get forward and his volley showed us what he can do when he does.
New signing Shaun Wright-Phillips continued his brilliant start at his new home with an assist for Barton’s 8th minute goal and he very nearly scored himself in the second half. After a good bit of skill, he was able to drill a shot on to the Wolves’ woodwork and was unlucky not to turn this game into a rout. Wright-Phillips’ passing continued to impress, completing 10 out of his 12 passes (83%) as well as winning 6 of his 11 possession duals and two of his three shots were on target. Not only do the statistics support him, he also looked dangerous whenever near the ball on Saturday afternoon and I am waiting to see Fabio and co. once again showing interest in him.
During the first few weeks of this season, especially P.T.F (pre-Tony Fernandez) it was worrying to see QPR’s lack of attempts on goal and we were curious as to where the goals were going to come from. Since then, Fernandez and Warnock have been able to get their players in. The curiosity has vanished and suddenly QPR are a force to be reckoned with. With the last two performances in mind, QPR could have had 10 goals instead of just 3. The flowing football in midfield seems to be the key to what has changed Rangers’ outlook on the Premier League. The long ball tactics were never going to work against teams who are bigger, stronger and better at it than QPR (Bolton) so this new attractive style of play is not only pleasing to the eye but also seems to be getting the best out of the players.
Talking of getting the best out of players, you cannot go a week at QPR without Adel Taarabt being mentioned in the news. Apparently this week he wants more money and a new contract, only to be reminded he isn’t our outright ‘talisman’ anymore. One thing he can rely on is that any questioning of his place in the team, two weeks ago should have been answered.
He has played very well in the last two games and surely, once again secured his place back in the team. Who knows, maybe it’s the better players around him? Maybe it’s the fear of being stuck in the reserves or maybe it’s the fact that the transfer window opens in 4 months and he’s still hoping for a move away from W12? We don’t know, but as long as he performs here and now (his partnership with Wright-Phillips is personally the best news so far) Rangers will continue to edge closer to that all important 40 point mark.
I also suggested last week that QPR don’t have an experienced, Premiership striker and I was weary of the fact that we didn’t have a 20 goal-a-season man. However, DJ Campbell showed he can continue his scoring form from last season. Less than quarter of an hour after his intro to the match, he scored. A real striker’s finish! So I was wrong, I believe he is the final piece of the jigsaw and deserves a starting place; whether at the expense of Bothroyd or not, that’s up to Warnock. He hasn’t been wrong so far.