QPR 1 Everton 1: Lessons learned as Hoops’ wait for first win continues
QPR 1 Everton 1: What lessons did we learn as the Hoops are again denied their first league win of the season at Loftus Road?
Hoilett hits the net on return
Queens Park Rangers ended an unwelcome run of conceding early goals in their last three matches in the best possible fashion when Junior Hoilett netted inside 180 seconds of the kick-off. The Hoops manager has used his summer signing sparingly this season recently defended his selection policy amid criticism from QPR supporters who feel Hughes’ team lacks width. “Everybody has an opinion and that’s why we love being part of football,” he said. “I have to go with what I see leading into games irrespective of whether the player played well last season or four weeks ago, it’s what I see on a day-to-day basis”. The 22-year-old, who was a second-half substitute in the club’s last two outings, picked up the ball from an Everton corner and ran the length of the pitch before his deflected shot beat Tim Horward. With confidence high, Hoilett came close to netting a second after Samba Diakite and Bobby Zamora combined to tee up the forward, who fired over the crossbar. After half-time, the former Blackburn man continued to torment Seamus Coleman and Phil Neville when he cut in from the left wing and drew a full-stretch save from Howard. He also impressed in central positions, and came close again when he showcased his dribbling skills, dancing past Leon Osman before testing the Everton goalkeeper. Provided Hoilett shows plenty of endeavour in training, he should be a regular fixture in Hughes’ side based on this performance.
Everton capitalise on defensive lapses
QPR’s frailties at the back are uncharacteristic for a Hughes’ side, which are usually renowned for their uncompromising defending. But his injury-ravaged back four have now leaked 17 goals in eight games – perhaps an unsurprising statistic considering QPR are yet to field the same defensive line this term. While Hughes’ men managed to keep the visitors out for the opening 30 minutes, old demons eventually reappeared. A free-kick 10 yards into QPR’s half caused confusion in Julio Cesar’s box, with unmarked Everton centre-half Sylvain Distin directing a low header onto the post, before the ball rebounded off the goalkeeper and into the net. Sucker-punched by the Toffees’ equaliser, another set-piece moments later almost culminated in QPR heading into the interval undeservedly behind as Phil Jagielka escaped Zamora and crashed a header against the crossbar. It appears set-pieces are becoming something of an Achilles heel for Hughes’ men and QPR were lucky to escaped unpunished in 70th minute when Jagielka managed to find space six yards out but was denied by a superb reflex save by Cesar.
Granero and Jagielka impress
Juan Mata may have sparkled for Chelsea in their 4-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Saturday, but another graceful Spaniard stood-out in QPR’s midfield against Everton. With Santi Cazorla, Mata and David Silva already earning rave reviews in their relatively short stints in the Premier League, Granero appears to be yet another Spanish midfielder set to shine in the top flight. Despite securing only a disappointing point against 10-man Everton, the former Real Madrid midfielder’s performance will have pleased Hughes as the 25-year-old excelled and is growing into his creative role. He completed an impressive 89 per cent of his passes, 15 of which were in final third as he tried to unlock Everton’s sturdy rearguard. Such is the respect he already commands from his team-mates, the Spaniard received more passes (61) than any of his midfield colleagues and created two late chances for substitute Djibril Cisse. The former Getafe man’s starring role was only eclipsed by Everton centre-half Phil Jagielka, who marshalled a tireless defence through wave after wave of QPR attacks. The 30-year-old made two interceptions and seven clearances with head and boot as Moyes’ talisman relished the siege mentality with the Toffees down to 10 men. Roy Hodgson clearly rates the centre-half and the Everton defender has started England’s last three World Cup qualifiers.
QPR start to rediscover home form
By Hughes’ own admission, QPR’s form at Loftus Road was the decisive factor in their successful battle against relegation last season. The Hoops are yet to replicate those performances – although Hughes will be encouraged by their display on Sunday despite remaining winless in the Premier League. The QPR supporters played their part Steven Pienaar’s red card as the South African was finally punished for a string of clumsy fouls in the 62 minute. With Norwich City beating Arsenal on Saturday and moving out of the bottom three, QPR threw bodies forward in attempt to secure maximum points. Granero’s perfectly-weighted cross was expertly controlled by Zamora but the former Fulham man was unable to beat Howard at his near post. Hughes introduced Cisse in search of a late winner, and the Frenchman was denied by the sharp reactions of Everton’s keeper after superb interplay between Jose Bosingwa and Park. Where home advantage had perhaps played a part in convincing Jonathan Moss to dismiss Pienaar, the inexperienced referee would not be swayed by their cries for a penalty, despite Seamus Coleman’s mistimed tackle appearing to catch Hoilett in the final 10 minutes. With trips to Arsenal and Manchester United on the horizon, it is now imperative QPR win their home fixtures before the pressure on Hughes reaches a crescendo.