QPR 0 Chelsea 0: Lessons from a frenetic west London derby

QPR 0 Chelsea 0: What did we learn from the west London derby as the Hoops seal a goalless draw with the European champions?

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Chelsea
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Cesar impresses on QPR debut

In a crazy summer of transfer activity for Queens Park Rangers, perhaps the most surprising signing was Julio Cesar. It was an unexpected move in the sense that Mark Hughes had already snapped up Robert Green from West Ham United, and the England international was seen as Paddy Kenny’s successor. But QPR, who narrowly staved off relegation last season, managed to tempt five-time Serie A champion and Champions League winner Cesar to Loftus Road in August. Aged 33, the Brazilian could conceivably have his best years ahead of him despite a dramatic slump in form following the departure of former Internazionale manager Jose Mourinho to Real Madrid. On Friday, Hughes had remained tight-lipped over which goalkeeper would start against Chelsea, and his decision to throw Cesar into a vociferous west London derby was certainly a risk. But the Brazilian’s quality was evident as he was on hand to deny Eden Hazard in the eighth minute after the Belgian had outwitted QPR’s defence. His next test came from Fernando Torres as the Spaniard dribbled past two Hoops defenders before unleashing a left-footed drive which he parried clear. With QPR pressing for a winner in the second half, Cesar remained alert on the rare occasions Roberto Di Matteo’s side flirted with his goal. Judging by his debut, the Brazilian will be QPR’s undisputed number one and usurp Green.

Marriner ignores Chelsea penalty claims

For all of QPR’s endeavour in an intense first half, they were fortunate not to concede a penalty as referee Andre Marriner opted against punishing the home side despite a series of questionable clashes in Cesar’s area. Shaun Wright-Phillip’s raised boot on former Blues team-mate Ashley Cole would have constituted an infringement in any other area of the pitch but Marriner shirked away from pointing to the spot. Moments later, Ryan Nelsen appeared to wrestle John Terry to the ground in the six-yard area followng a Frank Lampard set-piece but once again the official waved play on. If there was any doubt surrounding the first two incidents, then Wright-Phillips was very fortunate to escape unpunished following a clumsy challenge on Hazard – the Belgian winger turned sharply and showed a quick turn of pace to ease past the England international in the QPR area. But just when the former Lille man appeared set to test Cesar, he tumbled to the ground. On closer inspection, Wright-Phillips appeared to have clipped Hazard, but Marriner, perhaps unsurprisingly, waved play on much to the anguish of Di Matteo. While QPR certainly lived dangerously throughout, Hughes will rightly argue Chelsea deserved very little from a game which saw them rarely threaten Cesar’s goal.

Granero impresses in QPR’s midfield

At his QPR unveiling on Tuesday, Esteban Granero was adamant he could cope with the physical demands of the Premier League despite his slight frame. “I like the speed and power of the Premier League,” Granero said. “I’m an aggressive player in a good way and I will mix well with this type of football.” And there is undoubtedly a steeley determination about the £9m signing. The former Real Madrid playmaker slotted effortlessly into QPR’s midfield against the Champions League winners, and looked at ease against Chelsea’s athletic trio of Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel and Ramires. The 25-year-old picked up sensible positions in between Chelsea’s midfield and back four, looking to thread a pass through to QPR’s ever-willing runners, and he created three chances for the Hoops in this manner. Granero also showcased his wider vision, picking out his team-mates with a couple of stunning 40-yard passes, but also displaying a presence of mind to simply switch play horizontally to keep the Hoops ticking. It was testament to Granero, Alejandro Faurlin and Park Ji-Sung that the home side enjoyed the lion share of possession – 53 per cent – while completing 82 per cent of their passes.

Chelsea and QPR deliver exciting derby

Hughes spoke glowingly about the derby day experience ahead of Saturday’s tie, and the atmosphere at Loftus Road certainly lived up to the expectations. This fixture is fast becoming one of the feistiest in the Premier League, albeit unfortunately aided by the tensions between Anton Ferdinand, Cole and Terry. Predictably the Chelsea pair got a cold reception throughout the match, with Terry’s seven misplaced passes greeted with cheers from the partisan home crowd. When asked whether QPR’s foreign stars would struggle to appreciate the significance of rivalry between the two clubs, Hughes said: “Sometimes in London, you have to actually be told what is and isn’t a derby, but you don’t have to explain the Chelsea-QPR derby”. And it appeared the Welshman had his players well-schooled on the significance of this fixture. Argentine midfielder Faurlin made four successful tackles and three interceptions, while the tenacious Park dispossessed Chelsea on seven occasions. And it was the Loftus Road outfit who showed greater determination to claim three points in the second half as Chelsea looked toothless up front – Fernando Torres was kept quiet by a superb performance from Anton Ferdinand and Ryan Nelsen, and the former Liverpool striker stormed down the tunnel following his substitution in the 79th minute.

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