Preview: Chelsea vs. Queens Park Rangers

Rio Ferdinand of QPR and Nikica Jelevic of Hull City during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Hull City at Loftus Road on August 16, 2014
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Sports Mole previews the London derby between Premier League leaders Chelsea and 19th-placed QPR, who are pointless on the road this season, at Stamford Bridge.

Queens Park Rangers will be without the suspended Rio Ferdinand when they make the ominous trip to Premier League leaders Chelsea on Saturday afternoon.

Ferdinand has been handed a three-match ban by the FA for comments that he made on social media in which he "included a reference to gender" at the expense of women.

The 35-year-old former England captain has not actually started either of QPR's last two games, with Richard Dunne again preferred as the Hoops won for the first time in seven by beating Aston Villa 2-0 on Monday.

That result lifted them off the bottom of the table, but things appear bleak for Rangers this weekend as they travel to the unbeaten title favourites having yet to pick up a point on the road this season.

They have already suffered four-goal thumpings at Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, so they seemingly stand little chance of keeping out a Blues side who could welcome back top scorer Diego Costa.

The nine-goal striker has missed Chelsea's last four matches because of his fitness issues, although, in his absence, 36-year-old Didier Drogba has shown that he still has it by scoring in the 1-1 draw at Manchester United and 2-1 Capital One Cup escape against Shrewsbury Town.

Nevertheless, Jose Mourinho has hinted that Costa will start at Stamford Bridge, alongside several more of his first-team regulars after being unimpressed with how his fringe players performed against League Two opposition on Wednesday.

Andre Schurrle and Mohamed Salah bore the brunt of the criticism, so Eden Hazard and Willian should not be sweating on their places in the side, while Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic will also regain their midfield berths.

Thibaut Courtois, John Terry, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic will all return to the back five, with Filipe Luis maintained at left-back as Cesar Azpilicueta serves the final game of his own three-match ban.

The hosts are also without sidelined Brazilian Ramires and former Rangers striker Loic Remy, who misses the visit of the club who sold him to the Blues in the summer with a muscle strain.

Rangers boss Harry Redknapp must decide whether to stick with the 4-4-2 system which was profitable against both Liverpool and Villa, or add an extra body in midfield to protect a defence which has conceded 12 times in four away games.

Bobby Zamora is likely to be sacrificed, with Junior Hoilett coming into the side to provide support to lone frontman Charlie Austin from one flank, with Eduardo Vargas continuing to do so from the other.

With Joey Barton, Jordan Mutch and Alejandro Faurlin still injured, Karl Henry will keep his spot in the centre of the park. Nedum Onuoha and Alex McCarthy will have late fitness tests ahead of the London derby.

QPR won on their most recent visit to Stamford Bridge, but have failed to score in six of their last seven away Premier League matches, while Chelsea have kept 10 clean sheets in their last 12 home games.

Recent form

Chelsea: WDWWWW


Possible starting lineups

Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Luis; Matic, Fabregas; Hazard, Oscar, Willian; Costa

QPR: Green; Isla, Dunne, Caulker, Yun; Fer, Sandro, Henry; Vargas, Hoilett, Austin

Sports Mole says: 2-0

Who will win Saturday's match between Chelsea and QPR at Stamford Bridge?

Chelsea 'keeper Petr Cech during a game against a Thailand XI on July 17, 2013
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