Heidur Helguson scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season on Saturday helping QPR on their way to their fourth win of the season heaping more woe on Stoke City and inflicting their fourth straight league defeat. The win propelled QPR into ninth place and six points clear of the relegation zone.
Walters gave the home side the lead, coolly slotting past Paddy Kenny from the edge of the area after 8 minutes. For 20 minutes it seemed that Stoke’s poor run of form was coming to an end. QPR fought back however and after 22 minutes, Traore hit a first time cross into an unmarked Helguson, the Iceland international heading the ball powerfully past Stoke keeper Sorenson.
QPR continued to heap misery on the home supporters and just before half-time Luke Young latched onto the end of Jamie Mackie’s pass and put the R’s 2-1 ahead. This left the never-quiet home end at the Britannia, sounding like a library as the teams went down the tunnel at half-time. Helguson seemed to have won the game in the 54th minute after he tapped in from close range from Barton’s assist. Soon after he was denied his hat-trick after his goal was ruled out for offside.
It seemed as though there was no way back for the Potters, until Ryan Shawcross reduced the defecit in the 64th minute. The goal was impossible to defend, Crouch towered over every QPR player and headed the ball back across goal towards Shawcross, who bundled it in at the back post. The damage was done however, despite a strong penalty claim in stoppage time, QPR held on to claim their third away win of the season.
After struggling for the first 20 minutes, QPR changed their style of play and started to retain possession using the ball on the ground. QPR had 57.5% of the possession and were far more impressive with their passing, completing 68% of their 287 passes, compared to Stoke’s inferior 64% of 194 passes. QPR continuously passed the ball in the final third, trying to create chances in front of a back four, all of who were six foot plus. They made 125 passes in the final third compared to Stoke’s 91 and were far more clinical with the chances they created. QPR only had 6 shots on goal compared to Stoke’s 16 but both sides had five on target with QPR finishing on top on the few occasions when they penetrated the Stoke defence.
An interesting statistic for me was QPR actually won more aerial duals than Stoke. 17 times QPR beat Stoke in the air. Stoke have always been known for their ‘don’t like it up em’ attitude but it appeared on Saturday that Stoke ‘didn’t like it up em’ as the Premiership new boys pulled off the most unlikely of wins. QPR also dominated in the possession duals, winning 54 of the 101. For 70 minutes QPR controlled the game and it was a genuine surprise when travelling back from the game to hear ‘expert pundits’ suggesting QPR didn’t deserve three points. Yes, Stoke had claims for two penalties and Barton was lucky to avoid being punished for them, but for the rest of the game however, no Stoke fan could suggest they deserved anything from the match. For a home performance I can see why a few Stoke fans are worried. I always enjoy watching Stoke, and in Europe this season they have been fantastic. In the league however, they have been far from themselves and if this form doesn’t change, it could be a long season at the Britannia.
The attitude around W12 is certainly happy at the moment. 6 points from the last four games in which they weren’t expected to earn any, including a famous win against rivals Chelsea and a ‘tough’ away three points at Stoke, has put many smiles on faces at Loftus Road. They have earned 15 points from their opening 12 games and are sitting comfortably in ninth position, the highest placed newly promoted team. More funds are being promised to Warnock is January, which may prove pivotal as QPR are running a little thin in their 25-man squad with injuries to nine key squad members. We are approaching an important period in the season and QPR are heading into it flying.
Warnock needs to continue to keep the players’ feet on the ground and continue to successfully deal with certain players in the squad whose attitude is poor. These players need to be kept as far from first team action as possible, even despite their talent, the pathetic attitude and lack of effort should not be encouraged.
QPR are playing attractive, good football and are reaping the benefits, hopefully an away win against Norwich at the weekend will continue their good form and give them a good standing going into the New Year.