Morning all. Looking down today's fixture list, there's not many more important matches than this one - Queens Park Rangers
vs. Norwich City
. Both could really do with the three points, which should make for an interesting encounter.
We've actually just been handed some early team news courtesy of Sky Sports News
's Chris Kamara on Twitter:
"Just at loftus Road had a good chat with both Managers Harry & Chris, no Remy 4QPR did a groin in training& Samba not match fit but playing."
And now we actually have the confirmed QPR lineup...
QPR X1: Cesar; Traore, Hill, Samba, Fabio; Townsend, Mbia, Derry, Wright-Phillips; Taarabt; Mackie
Let's get the bad news out the way first, shall we? As revealed by Kammy, Loic Remy has missed out with a groin injury. He made an exciting debut against West Ham United, so his absence will surely be felt. However, despite reports to the contrary, Christopher Samba
has been deemed fit enough to start following his deadline arrival. Tottenham Hotspur loanee Andros Townsend has also been included.
NORWICH X1: Bunn; Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido; Snodgrass, Johnson, Tettey, Pilkington, Hoolahan; Holt
The big news for Norwich is that deadline-day signing from Leeds United Luciano Becchio has only been given a place on the bench. Instead, skipper Grant Holt will lead the line for the Canaries. Wes Hoolahan, Bradley Johnson and Anthony Pilkington also start.
One player that is not involved for QPR today is Peter Odemwingie. What an earth was he thinking on deadline day?! He travelled all the way to Loftus Road without West Bromwich Albion's permission and has now been forced to return with his tail between his legs. Ironically, QPR could actually do with him today, what with Remy being out with a groin complaint.
Staying with QPR, and without beating around the bush, you feel that they have to win today. Harry Redknapp
has made them hard to beat and they've claimed more than credible draws against Manchester City and Tottenham in recent weeks. However, it's these types of matches that they must win if they are to retain their Premier League status.
Wins are something that QPR have found hard to come by since Redknapp took charge in November though. As mentioned, there have been a number of draws, but they've only claimed two victories from 11 Premier League outings under Redknapp's stewardship.
However, they can take some solace in Norwich's recent record away from home. Chris Hughton
's team have only won once from their last 14 trips away from Carrow Road. It was a memorable victory as well, having been achieved thanks to a 4-3 scoreline against Swansea City back in December.
Having said that, Norwich have enjoyed their recent visits to Loftus Road. They won 2-1 there last season and were undefeated in the two previous matches prior to that. In fact, the Norfolk-based outfit have won on 12 occasions in West London overall.
Norwich will be up against Samba today, who has been given a starting role despite fears that he is not match fit. If you believe everything you read, he cost the R's a club record £12.5m and will be picking up a cool £100,000 a week. Bit risky?
Whatever he is earning, it's not something that bothers Redknapp too much.
"If it's big money for Samba, that's up to the chairman and the shareholders," said Redknapp.
"It's their decision to spend the money. It wasn't a case of me telling them to go out and buy Samba. I don't think he is coming for anywhere near £100,000 a week, but whatever he is earning, it's their decision to spend the money."
Another of QPR's new boys, Jermaine Jenas, has only been given a place on the bench. That's a slight surprise, because he was considered more likely to start the match than Samba. Anyway, here's who is on both benches.
QPR: Green, Park, Granero, Jenas, Ben Haim, Zamora, Bothroyd
NORWICH: Camp, Whittaker, Howson, Jackson, E.Bennett, Becchio, R.Bennett
Funnily enough, two of the players that have been named as substitutes today scored during the 1-1 draw between these clubs earlier in the season. Simeon Jackson put Norwich in front, but Bobby Zamora rescued a share of the spoils for QPR. For a full recap on that match, here is our report
So, what's everybody's prediction for today then? Our very own Danielle Joynson has backed QPR to win 2-1 with her preview
. For what it's worth (probably not a lot) I'm going for a 2-2 draw, which would help neither side out too much!
Here are former Chelsea defender Graeme Le Saux's thoughts on the match ahead:
"I think Chris Samba is a good player, and I do not know how accurate the figures are, but by all accounts it is a lot of money QPR have invested in him.
"QPR have signed a lot of players, and a lot of them are probably on wages that are a lot bigger than the players who have been there since the Championship days. As a player, if you sign a contract that you are happy with it at the time, you have to deal with it and be professional.
"The fact that QPR have signed half a team says everything about the situation they are in, what is unique though is that most struggling teams are also struggling financially, but QPR have been able to buy.
"They have given themselves a chance and I expect the new players to have a positive impact. Norwich have a different model to QPR and were relatively quiet in January.
"I am really looking forward to this game, and I expect QPR to get the win if they are able to start the game at the right tempo."
He was talking to BBC Sport.
Right then, the players are beginning to slowly filter out into the tunnel area. You can sense from the atmosphere inside Loftus Road that it is a big match today. The R's will need their supporters to get behind them, that's for sure.
Here come the two teams onto a pitch that is half-bathed in sunshine and half covered in the shadows. It will be interesting to how that affects the two goalkeepers. Not long until we are off and running now...
Hosting QPR, kicking from right to left, get this important Premier League clash started...
It's Norwich who have started the better of the two sides here. They're knocking the ball around with purpose and the likes of Hoolahan and Pilkington are trying to exploit any pockets of space.
CHANCE! It's a bad miss for Norwich, who should be 1-0 up. Snodgrass did well down the right to swing in a cross for Hoolahan, who somehow flicked the ball over the bar from six yards out when it looked easier to score. That's a big let off for QPR.
Townsend has just given QPR fans a taster of what they can expect to see from him over the next six months. The Spurs loanee eased his way down the left with a neat step-over, before sending over a dangerous cross. Unfortunately for the home team, nobody was moving in to make a connection with it.
He can be frustrating at times, but there is no doubting the ability that QPR's Adel Taarabt
possesses. Moments ago he rode three separate challenges with neat footwork, only to his low shot from 20 yards out skid just wide of the target.
CHANCE! Now QPR are beginning to move through the gears. Taarabt is again involved as he threads a pass through to Jamie Mackie inside the area. The angle is against the Scottish striker though and he drags his shot off target.
Bit of a light-hearted moment here as Grant Holt appears to go down quite easily under a challenge from QPR skipper Clint Hill. A free kick is given, but credit to Hill - he doesn't complain and instead shares a joke with the Norwich striker. Good to see.
Norwich are really struggling to keep hold of the ball at the moment. Holt up top on his own is looking isolated and without any options, QPR are regaining possession rather easily.
SUBSTITUTION: A blow for Norwich as Pilkington is forced to limp off with a thigh problem. He tried to run it off, but was unable to succeed. He has been replaced by the pacey Elliott Benntt, who will play on the left side of midfield for now.
CHANCE! First sight of goal for Norwich for a while as Robert Snodgrass heads straight at Julio Cesar in the QPR goal from close range. Either side of the Brazilian there and the Canaries could have taken the lead.
CHANCE! It's now Norwich that are creating the opportunities. It's another headed effort as Grant Holt steers Javier Garrido's deep cross from the left towards the top corner of the net. However, Cesar reacts quickly and leaps across his line to catch the ball.
CHANCE! Arguably the best QPR chance of the afternoon goes a begging. It fell to Shaun Wright-Phillips, who wriggled free from Garrido, but only managed to shoot two yards wide of the target from the edge of the area. He had enough time there to take a couple more touches.
Some humour from the travelling Norwich fans as Wright-Phillips shanked that shot wide. "Odemwingie, he would have scored that," they sung. Funny thing is, he probably would have as well!
BOOKING! It's Stephane Mbia who sees yellow for grappling with Norwich's Bennett. It looked as though the QPR midfielder wanted a piggy-back there. And he still had the audacity to complain!
A dodgy moment for Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn
as he is forced to back track at pace following a corner from Taarabt. Luckily for Bunn, the ball strikes the top of the crossbar and bounces out of play. He was well beaten there.
We've got one minute of stoppage time to be played...
HALF-TIME: QPR 0-0 Norwich
Well, that wasn't the best halves of football, it's got to be said. Norwich manager Hughton will probably be the happier of the two bosses because after all, the onus is on QPR to be the attacking threat.
With that in mind, it's not been the best 45 minutes for QPR. They've had just the one shot on target, while Taarabt went close direct from a corner. Like Holt for Norwich, Mackie has looked a little isolated as a lone striker. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Bobby Zamora introduced at some stage to add some firepower.
Another player that could swing the game QPR's way is Jermaine Jenas, who joined on deadline day from Spurs. While the likes of Shaun Derry and Mbia will work hard all day long, Jenas possesses that eye for a pass that is currently lacking in the centre of QPR's midfield. It's certainly something that Redknapp is likely to be considering.
For Norwich, they may also introduce new signing Becchio at some stage. Whether it will be to partner Holt, or replace him, will probably depend on how the game is going. As it stands, Holt could currently do with a bit of help up there.
Here we go then - Norwich get the second half started...
How have QPR not scored?! Taarabt just sent over a great free kick from the right, which bounced across the Norwich goal. Four home players rushed in, but none were able to make a connection. How's your luck?
BOOKING! It's now 1-1 in terms of yellow cards as Garrido gets his name taken for tripping up Wright-Phillips, who looked to be in full flight. It's a deserved caution for the Spaniard, who doesn't argue - Mbia take note!
SAVE! What a signing Cesar has been for QPR. This time he denies Hoolahan, whose poked effort from a Snodgrass cross looked to be heading for the bottom corner before the Brazilian goalkeeper intervened. If QPR are to stay up, he is going to play a big part.
SUBSTITUTION: I said at the break Zamora could be coming on soon and here he is. The former England international has come on for Wright-Phillips, which means that QPR are now operating with a 4-4-2 formation.
PENALTY TO QPR!
MARK BUNN SAVES ADEL TAARABT'S PENALTY!
What drama at Loftus Road as Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn brought down Mackie inside the area. It's a blatant penalty, but Bunn atoned for his error by diving to his left to palm away Taarabt's effort from 12 yards out. How crucial will that miss be come the end of the season for QPR?
It's all gone a little bit frantic here, which is great to watch. Both sides are beginning to commit more men forward and as a result there is now more space in either half. A goal looks like it is coming, although at which end is too difficult to predict.
SAVE! There's a bit of duel going on between Taarabt and Bunn at the moment. Again Bunn comes out on top as he pushed clear the QPR attacker's effort from 25 yards out that swerved suddenly in the air. Meanwhile, up the other end Cesar gets down to turn away Bradley Johnson's shot from the edge of the area.
BOOKING! Norwich's Alexander Tettey gets shown the yellow card for sticking out a leg to block Armand Traroe's run down the left. He looks a little confused by the decision, although I cannot work out why! It's a deserved caution.
SUBSTITUTION: Another switch for QPR and another debutant. It's Jenas who has come on in place of Mbia, who has been booked and looked to be riding his luck.
SUBSTITUTION: Final change for QPR as Fabio da Silva limps off with a hamstring complaint and Tal Ben-Haim, who is making his Premier League debut for the hosts, enters the action.
SAVE! Townsend has been much quieter during this half but he came to life just now as he scampered clear of his marker, only to see his low effort from the edge of the area slip through to Bunn in the Norwich goal. QPR are now well on top.
SAVE! Another stop for the Cesar show reel. On this occasion he has denied Snodgrass, who spun 30 yards from goal and sent a rising effort towards the top right hand corner of the net. That's the first shot Norwich have had on goal for a long while.
BOOKING! Another yellow card for Norwich, although this time it was a harsh one. Michael Turner receives it for a challenge on Mackie. In fairness to the Norwich defender he clearly won the ball first there.
CHANCE! Big opportunity for QPR. Townsend checks back onto his left foot and swung in a cross from the right wing to the back post. Zamora managed to get in front of Russell Martin, but only succeeded in guiding his header wide of the target from six yards out. He really should have done better with that.
SAVE! Townsend has made a fine debut and he almost capped it off with a stunning strike from 25 yards out. However, he was denied by a diving Bunn, who got a firm hand to it. The resultant corner is headed wide by Hill.
SUBSTITUTION: Another debut as Becchio is given his chance for Norwich in place of Hoolahan, who will feel that he should have had at least one goal today.
There will be five minutes of stoppage time for one of these sides to find a winning goal...
It's QPR that are pouring forward in numbers, but as yet, their search for a goal has proved to be unsuccessful. Norwich are defending really well at the moment.
FULL TIME: QPR 0-0 Norwich
will certainly be the happier of the two managers with that result. His side defended well and looked pretty dangerous on the break. In contrast, QPR have failed to score yet again. That aside, their performance was positive but it's goals that will keep them in the Premier League and at the moment they are proving to difficult to find.
That's all we have time for from Loftus Road. Thanks for joining us this afternoon and be sure to stay with Sports Mole throughout the afternoon for coverage of football across Europe and the Six Nations rugby. Enjoy!