Julio César was one of the poster boys of Mark Hughes’ doomed reign at QPR, arriving on a free transfer from Internazionale in the summer, alongside Esteban Granero and Park Ji-Sung. But in reality, little of the blame for QPR’s 16-game winless run can be attributed to César, who was more often than not left exposed by some shoddy defending. Under Hughes’ replacement Harry Redknapp, QPR have defended as a more cohesive unit – the 3-0 loss to Liverpool aside – and César was instrumental in securing a point for the Hoops against Tottenham. He showed superb reflexes to tip Jermain Defoe’s fifth-minute effort onto the woodwork before springing to his feet to deny Emmanuel Adebayor. It was the one bit of quality in an otherwise dull London derby. The 33-year-old had to be alert to save Gareth Bale’s swerving free-kick before blocking Defoe’s low effort with his feet as Spurs made a brisk start to the second half. Redknapp has made no secret of his desire to strengthen his squad, but in the goalkeeping department, the Hoops boss can rest easy with a world-class talent – and he’s got Robert Green in reserve!
Redknapp admitted he is desperate to sign at least one striker during the January transfer window on Friday. With Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora both injured and Djibril Cissé hopelessly out-of-form, Redknapp is being forced to rely on the ever-tenacious but not prolific Jamie Mackie and the inconsistent magician Adel Taarabt. It leaves QPR toothless up front, a theme which continued against Tottenham. When Taarabt did manage to outwit an opponent and create a bit of space to run at a panicked Spurs defence, the Moroccan was left without any support. With Mackie playing on the right wing, the Scotland international was left similarly isolated when his determination conjured room to run at Lloris’ goal, with Taarabt invariably having dropped deep to get involved in the play. Pegged back in the second half, the QPR manager appeared content to settle for a point as he failed to bring on Jay Bothroyd or Cissé to add to the home side’s tame goal threat. With Tottenham pressing for a late winner, QPR spent large portions of the last 30 minutes camped inside their own half. There was a rare reprieve when Taarabt’s ingenious flick did release Wright-Phillips clean through on goal, but the winger was beaten to the pass by Lloris. With Loic Remy and Alvaro Negredo unlikely to move to Loftus Road, Redknapp embarks on yet another scouting mission on the continent on Saturday night. Hopefully for the R’s, the wily manager can locate a goal-scorer.
Michael Dawson was a one-time target for the Hoops, with Mark Hughes failing to lure the England international to Loftus Road in the summer. The 29-year-old has been handed a reprieve by André Villas-Boas after previously being deemed out-of-favour at White Hart Lane, with William Gallas and Younes Kaboul injured. Redknapp’s side struggled to break down Tottenham’s stubborn defence, but on the two occasions where QPR finally put the visitors on the back foot, Dawson showed wonderful recovering ability to save Spurs. In the 12th minute, Shaun Wright-Phillips collected Taarabt’s disguised pass and cut inside, looking to test Hugo Lloris, only to see his goal-bound shot deflected wide by desperate block from Dawson. The Nottingham Forest youth graduate was at full-stretch again shortly after Wright-Phillips’ missed opportunity, prodding the ball to safety when Stéphane Mbia looked to have beaten the Spurs centre-half. With César ensuring QPR’s clean sheet remained in tact, Dawson’s contributions were similarly vital in ensuring Villas-Boas’ side left Loftus Road with at least a point.
Much of the pre-match build-up focused on Redknapp’s comments about Rafael Benítez’s impact at Chelsea. The QPR boss insisted the Spaniard would have to be a “real dope” to not succeed with a world-class squad at his disposal. Inevitably, this soundbite was construed to suggest Villas-Boas was a bit of a dope after lasting just six months at Stamford Bridge before being sacked in March 2011. The pre-match handshake and friendly smile exchanged between the managers suggested there was no telling damage, and although Redknapp couldn’t quite outmanoeuvre his successor at Tottenham, the 65-year-old will have been pleased with a point. The Hoops didn’t producing a bustling attacking display which became a trademark of Redknapp’s Tottenham side, but the west London outfit were dogged. Clint Hill, Ryan Nelsen and Shaun Derry were effective in keeping Adebayor and Defoe at bay, even if their style of defending wasn’t attractive at times. Nedum Onuoha was rarely tested by Gareth Bale with Mbia and Park aiding the young right-back, while Fabio had his best performance in a QPR shirt since moving on loan from Manchster United. The victory over Chelsea clearly injected much-needed confidence into Redknapp’s side after a demoralising 3-0 loss to Liverpool, and although Spurs were much better in the second half, QPR never really looked like conceding.
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