Queens Park Rangers vs. Tottenham Hotspur.
Or should we say, Harry Redknapp against Andre Villas-Boas?
So much of the media hype about this game is based on the two managers and their relationship and Harry's departure in the summer, and I have to admit it makes this so much more than a run of the mill London derby between in-form and struggling clubs, and makes it personal and a game all the better for any simmering friction, media hyped or not. No doubt Daniel Levy will be desperate for not only three points, but also added justification (if he still needs any) at his sacking of a very successful manager to bring in AVB, an appointment surrounded by major question marks.
Anyway, enough of the managerial issues and back to what really matters for both teams and that is 3 points. Both want them desperately for contrasting reasons. Spurs will see this as a great chance to score points when their rivals face each other. Obviously Sunday will be huge with Man Utd v Liverpool and Arsenal against City, but Everton at home to a boyant Swansea will be a game that I would pay to watch and will certainly be a tough and losable fixture for David Moyes and his team.
QPR have a desperate need for points. Though I have a feeling that 40 points may not be the required total at the end of the season, potentially Harry somehow needs to coax 27+ points from seventeen remaining games and despite an unlikely win at Stamford Bridge, it is difficult to see that happening and they may have to rely on others capitulating for any hope of survival.
Spurs are in excellent form, but it is clear they need to continue winning games to maintain their slim advantage over their rivals in the fight for a top four place. But with players returning from long term injury and only Younes Kaboul remaining out and William Gallas still supposedly struggling with a calf injury, AVB has a full squad to call upon, though assuming he doesn't again change his mind, this will be Emmanuel Adebayor's last game for a few weeks as he flies out for the ACoN tournament after the game.
Whether AVB will stick close to the team selection of recent weeks, I have no idea, though with BAE back, will we see his return at LB, which I believe will add greater balance, but then who plays on the right? Walker was in need of a break in my opinion, but would we be shocked to see Naughton retained for one more game at least? In the middle, has Dawson overtaken Caulker to partner Vertonghen?
In the middle, has Scott Parker done enough to retain his place, or are we now seeing Sandro and Dembele as the preferred pairing? For me, Parker adds experience, control and leadership in the middle, but fitting him in, is very difficult, based on the quality and form of the others. I would be surprised to see anything other than Lennon and Bale be selected wide to terrorise the QPR defence, but what about in attack. Is this a final game to rest Defoe before a long run of games, or do we simply play him because he is the best available. If so, does he play with Adebayor or the inform Dempsey?
This season in the Prem, QPR have only managed to beat an out of form Fulham at home, losing five of their ten games. Certainly not form to worry anyone, especially a team that won six of their ten away games (losing four). Whether they can build on their victory over Chelsea will be the big question, however it was obvious to anyone watching that they got lucky, and parking the bus at home is always much harder to do psychologically and physically, as the away side are often happy to let the home team take the initiative, so I feel that Spurs need to just worry about their own game to get the right result, but as has been the case before, would we be shocked to see Adel Taarabt have a moment of magic reserved for his former club?...