Hello and welcome to Sport Mole
's live text coverage of the rescheduled Premier League meeting between Queens Park Rangers
and Tottenham Hotspur
at Loftus Road.
This game has big implications at both ends of the table, with the visitors looking to close in on a Champions League qualification berth, while QPR now find themselves inside the relegation zone following the midweek action. Spurs have come out on top in five of the last seven meetings between the pair, so the R's will have to be on top of their game if they are to pull off an upset here today.
Kickoff in West London is now less than an hour away, so let's begin by taking a look at how the two teams line up...
QPR STARTING XI: Green; Onuoha, Caulker, Ferdinand, Suk-Young; Sandro, Henry, Isla, Phillips; Zamora, Austin
SPURS STARTING XI: Lloris, Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Davies; Bentaleb, Mason; Chadli, Eriksen, Townsend; Kane
has made two changes to his QPR side for this afternoon's London derby meeting, with Rio Ferdinand making his return to the heart of the R's defence. Mauricio Isla is the other player to enter the fold, slotting into a right-wing position.
Nedum Onuoha was a big doubt coming into this fixture due to the deep cut sustained to his cheek last time out, but he has been passed fit to start in defence. Joey Barton continues to miss out as a result of his three-match suspension, meanwhile, meaning that Sandro will play a big part in the centre of the field against his former club.
As far as the visitors are concerned, Mauricio Pochettino
has made just the one change to his side having stuck with the same XI for the last two outings. Ben Davies comes in for his first start since the goalless draw against Manchester United at the back end of last year, with Danny Rose dropping out.
A very much in-form Harry Kane
is tasked with leading the line once more (more on him a little later), while Nacer Chadli, Christian Eriksen
and Andros Townsend will provide him with some attacking ammunition. That Davies change aside, it's as you were in terms of this Tottenham starting lineup.
QPR SUBS: McCarthy, Hill, Wright-Phillips, Comley, Kranjcar, Hoilet, Grego-Cox
SPURS SUBS: Vorm, Fazio, Rose, Dembele, Lamela, Stambouli, Soldado
The two players who have dropped out of the QPR starting lineup this afternoon, Darnell Furlong and Junior Hoilett, both miss out on the squad completely due to injury. That means that there is room on the bench for academy duo Reece Grego-Cox and Brandon Comley.
Rose has to make do with a place among the subs having started all of his side's league games this year, and he is joined by Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado among others, each of whom can add some additional attacking threat should they be called upon. Michel Vorm provides the goalkeeping backup.
Spurs have the edge in this fixture over the years, but will they extend that run a little further this afternoon?
Well the home side come into this fixture on a bad run of form having won just one of their last 10 Premier League games. It means that as we edge closer towards the business end of the season, the R's find themselves camped inside the relegation zone with games fast running out to turn things around.
Rangers were heavily relying on their home form to keep them afloat, although even that positive factor has now been taken away from them in recent weeks. No win in five at their Loftus Road home means that, combined with their solitary win away from West London, they are three points from safety in 18th place. The good news is that with three points here today, they can climb above Aston Villa on goal difference.
If they are to climb to safety then it is important they start picking up points here once again. Fixtures against Crystal Palace, Everton, West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and Chelsea awaits in the coming weeks - a nice set of matches on the face of it, bar that tough meeting with the league leaders, which could prove to be make or break in the grand scheme of things.
Of course this will also be a special day for R's boss Chris Ramsey
, who comes up against the team he spent 10 years at before leaving last summer. He has just the one win to his name since taking to the helm, and what a huge victory it was at Sunderland to end that barren run of results away from home in the Premier League. He needs to get back to winning ways if he is to land this job full time, though, starting with a big performance against rivals Tottenham this afternoon.
Spurs are hardly flying themselves at the moment, either. They hit a rich vein of form earlier this year under Pochettino, but having been dumped out of the Europa League less than a fortnight ago, as well as being eased out by Chelsea in last week's League Cup final, they come into this game looking to mount a top-four charge.
The North London outfit got back to winning ways in the week with a much-needed win over Swansea City, which saw them remain on track to finish in a European spot. That made it one win, one defeat and one draw in their last three league games, however, so it is clear that a steady run of victories is required if they are to overhaul the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.
Interestingly, this will be Spurs's 47th game of the season already - the most of any side in the Premier League - which means that fatigue could be a key factor heading into the closing months of what has been a gruelling campaign. As disappointing as their Europa League exit may have been, it does mean that the focus is now solely on the Premier League, and with games against Leicester City, Burnley, Aston Villa, Newcastle United and, most importantly of all, Manchester United to come, they could still claim a Champions League place for next season.
It is vital that Pochettino's charges pick up three points here today in what is their game in hand over their rivals, and if their away record is anything to go by then it is very much touch and go. The Lilywhites have come out on top in exactly half of their 12 away games to date, meaning that there is certainly some hope for an R's side seeking a path to safety.
A big afternoon awaits Charlie Austin
and Co. in West London:
PREVIOUS MEETINGS: We've already discovered that Spurs have the edge in terms of overall meetings, but what about their record in more recent times? Well today's visitors have lost just one of their last seven against the Hoops, winning five of those fixtures. That includes a 4-0 victory in the reverse encounter earlier this campaign, which came about from just five shots on target all afternoon. Prolific.
The omens aren't great for QPR in terms of their record in London derbies, either. This is the second of three-successive meetings against fellow capital city sides, with Arsenal claiming a 2-1 victory in midweek and Crystal Palace to come next week. The Hoops have failed to win any of the last 10 against sides around them geographically speaking, so they will be looking to change that here today.
DID YOU KNOW? Tottenham have scored a league-high 20 goals so far this year, while they have also claimed more points - 16 - than any other in the division from losing positions. They have also kept just one clean sheet on the road in their last 11 games, however, with Hugo Lloris's goal so often being breached.
Of course, there are two names on the lips of both sets of supporters heading into today's fixture, with Harry Kane and Charlie Austin vying for an England call-up later this month. Despite Three Lions boss Roy Hodgon's comments in the week, it is highly unlikely that either will fail to make the cut for fixtures against Italy and Lithuania. Kane has scored 14 goals this season, one less than his compatriot in the Premier League, including four in a row away from home.
That makes Kane the first Spurs player in history to achieve that impressive feat, one that he will be eager to extend a little further in West London this afternoon. Meanwhile, R's boss Ramsey admitted this week that the club simply cannot keep relying on Austin to bang in the goals, with only Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa having scored more in the division so far. Today could very well be a two-way battle between the English strikers.
PREDICTION: This is the only fixture taking place in the Premier League this afternoon due to Spurs's League Cup exploits which saw this fixture - previously scheduled for last weekend - moved to this afternoon. The incentive is certainly their for both sides; a win enough to take QPR out of the bottom three while Spurs can close the gap even further on the top four by moving into fifth place with all three points. Pochettino's men may have been a little inconsistent of late, but I'm going to back them to run out 2-0 winners at Loftus Road.
Both sides are now out onto the field at Loftus Road, with kickoff just a matter of minutes away. Can a youthful Spurs side keep their European charge on track?
KICKOFF! A stalled start to the game as QPR finally get us underway at the third time of asking. Their first two attempts at kickoff were illegal.
SAVE! Lloris shows just why he is so important to Tottenham with just 30 seconds on the clock. Zamora's looping header was heading for the top corner, but the Frenchman got his fingertips to the ball to push it behind. Referee Craig Pawson awarded a goal kick, believing the ball had hit the crossbar.
Isla, as expected, is playing on the right-hand side of a midfield four as far as the hosts are concerned. It's been a strange start, that Lloris save, two false kickoffs and an illegally-taken goal kick adding to the spectrum of this contest.
Some positive running form Townsend earns his side a corner, which is well cleared away in the end. Yun could be in for a tough afternoon down that flank if the early stages are anything to go by.
SAVE! It's now Green's turn to make a big stop to keep out Kane's header. Walker swung the ball into the box, but the English forward couldn't get the better of his countryman from close range.
Spurs are looking particularly strong down the right-hand side through Townsend's positive energy, earning a second corner inside the opening 10 minutes which again comes to nothing. Good start to the game, which still remains goalless.
Both sides have struggled to get a real hold of the ball so far, Spurs just about edging things, but we have seen two big chances come and go. Zamora's header was brilliantly kept out by Lloris inside the opening minute, while Kane was denied by Green at the opposite end.
Tottenham have seen 73% of the ball so far without really cutting their opponents open. There is no doubt that they are the ones now in the ascendency, but they need to turn their spell on the ball into clear-cut chances.
Ferdinand, back into the side this afternoon in one of two changes, has done well enough so far but he has just been caught out by the glaring sun. His header was rather poor at the back, although Spurs didn't pounce on the danger. Things are rather flat at the moment.
Half a chance for the most unlikely of sources, as Vertonghen drives forward and latches onto Kane's cross inside the area. He failed to control the ball, though, and it rolled out of play.
SAVE! Austin gets his first sighter of goal, and his flicked effort forces Lloris into action for a second time. It came about following some poor Spurs defending, Dier failing to get any height on his initial header and Walker then heading back towards his goalkeeper. But Austin got to the ball before it reached the Frenchman, directing the ball towards goal only for Lloris to react and push it aside.
SHOT! QPR keep up this good spell of pressure with Phillips driving a shot narrowly wide of goal. Zamora and Austin linked up to pick out the winger, but he could not test Lloris with his effort from inside the area.
Ferdinand is really struggling with the sunlight, as he once more fails to deal with what should be a simple clearance away. More communication is needed at the back... or a hat. One of the two will do.
Still goalless, then, as we enter the second quarter of this match. It's been fairly quiet on the whole, but both sides have had chances to edge ahead. Spurs have seen more of the ball, while QPR have come closest to making a breakthrough.
Sandro out-muscles Townsend on the edge of the area and gets away the tamest of shots on goal which Lloris collects. I'm not even sure that can go down as a shot on goal, in fact, as even if the Frenchman had left it it probably wouldn't have crossed the line. QPR still on top.
OFF THE BAR! The Hoops come within the frame of the goal of taking what would be a well-deserved lead. Phillips created the chance, and after Caulker dummied the ball on the edge of the box Austin found himself in on goal with just Lloris to beat, but he struck the bar with his attempt from inside the area with the ball being cleared away.
Spurs have been second best so far, being restricted to just one Harry Kane chance which was well kept out by Green:
The visitors have been under the cosh for the best part of 15 minutes now, and they will be grateful to still be level. QPR may rue not taking their chances.
GOAL! QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0-1 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (KANE)
I did suggest that QPR may rue not making the most of their dominance, and that has proved to be the case as Kane continues his fantastic goalscoring season by racking up goal number 15 in the Premier League. A lofted free kick into the box by Townsend was met by the English forward, who simply got to the ball ahead of Green to head home from a few yards out.
Roy Hodgson is watching on from the stands today, incidentally, so that goal may very well have secured Kane's place in the latest squad which will be announced later this month. QPR don't deserve to be behind, with some slack defending from that free kick costing them dearly.
PENALTY SHOUT! A scooped ball over the top from Caulker leads to Isla chasing the ball down, and after being sent tumbling by Lloris three quarters of Loftus Road screams for a penalty. Replays show that the Frenchman made the barest of contact on the Chilean, so it would have been harsh had the referee pointed to the spot on this occasion.
Austin and Zamora are working hard up top, but it has ultimately been a frustrating afternoon for the R's strike-duo so far. Could that change before the interval? Three minutes still left to play in West London.
The atmosphere is a little subdued at Loftus Road, which is a sound reflection of the predicament the Hoops find themselves in at the moment. They really shouldn't be behind heading into half time, but their defence - statistically the worst in the league - were caught out for Kane's opener.
One more minute of added time to be played, but this one is petering out to half time now, as it has been for the past seven or eight minutes since that penalty shout.
SAVES! Two big moments at either end at the conclusion of the opening 45 minutes. Walker's dragged shot was heading wide until Mason inadvertently directed it towards goal, and Green did brilliantly to react and keep it out. Seconds later Austin forced a save out of Lloris for the second time this afternoon, testing the Frenchman with a shot at his near post.
HALF TIME: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0-1 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
Referee Craig Pawson brings a fairly entertaining opening 45 minutes to a close, as Tottenham head into the break a goal to the good. We've seen some big moments at both ends in the first half, although it was the prolific Harry Kane who proved to be the difference maker with his 34th-minute header.
The first opportunity to make a breakthrough come with just 30 seconds on the clock when Zamora's dipping header was pushed over brilliantly by Lloris. Green then kept out Kane up the other end shortly after, while Austin was also denied by Lloris. Austin and Kane had their own personal battle going on as the game transpired, the former striking the bar before the latter, now on 15 for the season, headed home the only goal of the game so far.
Isla had a shout for a penalty turned down after he was felled by Lloris, while both keepers had to make saves at the very end of the half. All-in-all a decent opening 45 minutes, then, which QPR have probably just about edged.
QPR SUBS: McCarthy, Hill, Wright-Phillips, Comley, Kranjcar, Hoilet, Grego-Cox
SPURS SUBS: Vorm, Fazio, Rose, Dembele, Lamela, Stambouli, Soldado
This is the only Premier League fixture taking place this weekend, which means that as things stand Spurs will climb into fifth place, two points behind Man United who occupy that final Champions League berth, while QPR remain in the relegation zone. A huge second half awaits, as both sets of players now make their way back onto the field.
SECOND HALF UNDERWAY! Spurs get proceedings back underway at Loftus Road, protecting a one-goal lead.
OFF THE POST! Almost a perfect start to the half for Tottenham, as Eriksen strikes the post with an effort from 25 yards out. It was a fine strike which had Green beaten, and it was very nearly a tap-in for Kane right in front of goal but the ball bounced to him rather awkwardly so he can be excused from missing the target.
A poor pass from Caulker at the back sees Townsend, much like Eriksen before him, cut inside and far a shot away. On this occasion he failed to hit the target, however, as QPR escape another near scare.
It's all Spurs in this second half, and I can only imagine that's down to a few stern words from Pochettino at the break. The Lilywhites were well bellow par in the opening 45 minutes, despite holding onto a one-goal lead, but they have looked far better over the past six minutes. QPR seem very nervous on the other hand.
Some good defending from Walker denies Phillips from being played through on goal at the expense of a corner. Up the other end Eriksen was caught in two minds as Tottenham hit their opponents on the break, neither crossing or shooting in the end as the chance went begging.
Spurs are having a lot of joy on the break at the moment, cutting the R's open through midfield with some intricate play. Ramsey is surely thinking about a change now with his side desperate for a goal.
SAVE! Yet another save from Lloris to preserve his side's slender advantage. Zamora has had a decent afternoon, and it was his strike from a tight angle which very nearly found a way through had it not been for the Frenchman's stop at his near post.
OFF THE LINE! Eriksen is quickest to react inside the box after Walker's shot was saved by Green, but he sees his shot cleared off the line by Austin of all people. Great defending from the striker, who is showing great commitment to the cause. Moments later Henry lunged into a challenge to earn himself a yellow card, which sparked a minor brawl as both sets of players came together close to the touchline.
YELLOW CARD! Second booking in a matter of seconds as Bentaleb, a man who spent time on loan at QPR a couple of years back, is cautioned for his challenge on Henry. Things beginning to get a little out of hand.
The atmosphere has certainly improved following that little sparking point, and the R's have responded by getting a few balls into the box. They have to throw everything they have at Tottenham now, with time fast running out to gain at least a point from this game.
SPURS SUB: First change of the afternoon as Dembele replaces Townsend. He can add some midfield steel to the side for the closing 25 minutes or so.
Eriksen takes range from a free kick around 30 yards from goal, which is directed a good yard wide of the target. Things have finally settled down a little now following that frantic 10-minute spell. Spurs are the side holding the lead heading into the final quarter.
GOAL! QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0-2 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (KANE)
He just cannot stop scoring. Goal after goal, Kane has bagged his 16th of the season in the Premier League to overtake his compatriot Charlie Austin in the scoring charts. Having latched onto Mason's through-ball, the striker showed the nerve to round Green and roll the ball into an empty net.
QPR SUB: Hoilett comes on for Isla as Ramsey opts to change things around. That goal had been coming for the best part of 15 minutes with Spurs looking dangerous every time they got men forward.
He has also now scored in six away games in succession. Impressive.
GOAL! QUEENS PARK RANGERS 1-2 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (SANDRO)
I wonder. Out of nowhere QPR manage to find a route back into the game thanks to a sweetly-struck Sandro strike. The midfielder was a real fan favourite at White Hart Lane but he has potentially dealt his former side a huge blow if Rangers can push on from this. The Brazilian fired into the bottom corner from right on the edge of the box to leave Lloris with no chance on this occasion.
PENALTY SHOUT! A huge shout for a penalty for QPR, and on this occasion they are hard done by. Bentaleb blocks Austin's shot with two hands in front of goal, but the big question is could he have moved his hands out of the way? For me Craig Pawson is in an impossible position there - damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.
SPURS SUB: Lamela replaces Chadli as Pochettino looked to take some sting out of this game. QPR are really knocking on the door now, so the visitors could be in for a long final 10 minutes.
YELLOW CARD! Mason is booked following his challenge on Henry. He will be walking a tightrope in the closing stages of this thrilling London derby.
The Lilywhites have remained strong over the past few minutes following the hosts' heavy pressure. No chances of note to report back on really since that penalty shout. Can the R's find some momentum once more?
SHOT! Half a chance for substitute Hoilett, who shakes off the challenge of Walker before blasting wide having worked a decent shooting angle inside the box. Austin saw his shot blocked on the edge of the box prior to that.
Spurs having to work so much harder than needed as we enter the final three minutes. A corner was cleared away a few moments ago, but Spurs couldn't quite mount a counter-attack. Still one big change in this one.
QPR SUB: Eighteen-year-old Grego-Cox replaces Henry. The youngster has never previously even been in the Hoops squad, but here he is with minutes left pushing his side on.
SPURS SUB: Stambouli is on for Eriksen, as Pochettino attempts to break up QPR's momentum. We will have at least three minutes added on, so still plenty of time remaining for the hosts to grab a second.
Spurs were temporarily down to 10 men with Walker off the field suffering from a nose bleed. He is back on now, though, with QPR on the ball. They just can't get the ball into the box at the moment.
Four minutes have been added on, but QPR are struggling to find any momentum at this stage. They just need something; a corner, free kick, any sort of set piece will do right now.
Loftus Road has seen its fair share of drama late on this season, while Spurs have been the kings of scoring at the death. But with two minutes left they are holding onto a slender lead here. Phillips managed to get a shot away a few seconds ago, which Lloris easily held onto.
QPR SUB: Forgotten man Shaun Wright-Phillips has one minute to make an impact as he replaces Sandro.
Goal kick for QPR as we enter the final seconds of the game. Green will launch this, but will there be a chance at the end of it?
FULL TIME: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 1-2 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
A huge victory for Tottenham Hotspur as they see out the game fairly comfortably in the end to claim a 2-1 win. Kane's double, which takes his personal tally up to 26 for the season in all competitions, put Spurs in command. But Sandro's goal 15 minutes from time left the game wide open. It wasn't to be for Queens Park Rangers, though, who remain in the bottom three with games fast running out.
Well that's all from me for the time being, but be sure to stick around with a full match report, player ratings and in-depth analysis to follow from this afternoon's match in West London.