QPR 1 West Ham 2: Lessons learned as Hammers add to Hoops’ woes
QPR 1 West Ham 2: What lessons did we learn as Sam Allardyce's men took all three points away from Loftus Road?
Defensive midfielders are often the players who often don’t get the credit they deserve for the contribution they make to a team’s success. The impact of Mark Noble, who was tasked with this responsibility against their London rivals, was clear for everyone to see as Sam Allardyce’s side picked up a first away victory since February 2011’s success against Blackpool. His constant marshalling in front of the Hammers back four stopped the QPR midfield, including the likes of Esteban Granero and Ji-Sung Park, from creating any clear-cut chances. A desire to set up attacking movement and a combative style in the defensive third, which left home management and players calling for fouls, outlined the importance of the 25-year-old to the visitors. Statistics show that he has made the most tackles in the league this season, with 33, which further illustrates how vital his role is in the team’s formation. Talk of a call-up to the England senior squad has surfaced and the onlooking Roy Hodgson will have only been impressed by the midfielder, who has already represented his country at every level from Under-16 to Under 21.
Goalkeeping dilemma for QPR
After Julio Cesar’s surprise arrival at Loftus Road, manager Mark Hughes was quick to emphasise that he was happy to have two top-class goalkeepers on board and could deal with the challenge of keeping both satisfied. The Brazilian’s inconsistent performance against the Hammers will have definitely put some doubt into Hughes’ mind about who deserves the number one spot on a regular basis. In both of the goals conceded, his positional sense and shot-stopping ability came under scrutiny, although the second took a deflection off Stephane M’Bia before finding the net. An outstanding second-half display showcased what the 33-year-old is truly capable of as he pulled off a trio of vital saves to deny Mohammed Diame, Carlton Cole and Ricardo Vaz Te. Reserve goalkeeper Robert Green’s future at the Hoops is being questioned, with media reports suggesting that he could be allowed to leave for free, just three months after arriving. The shot-stopper, who infamously let in Clint Dempsey’s shot at the 2010 World Cup, is currently being paid around £50,000 a week, which makes him one of the highest paid deputies in the Premier League.
Jaaskelainen shows his class
Since Jussi Jaaskelainen arrived on English shores in 1997, the Finn has built up a reputation for being a reliable presence behind a defensive line. Many thought that his association with the top-flight would come to an end following Bolton’s relegation but he was reunited with former boss Allardyce, after signing an initial one-year deal at Upton Park. Despite being 37, he is still capable of producing world-class displays, and was definitely at his best against their struggling opponents. He handled everything that came at him, especially when the hosts produced a second-half revival and fired a barrage of efforts at the West Ham goal. Djibril Cisse was denied on a quartet of occasions by the goalkeeper, with Granero and Alejandro Faurlin also being kept out. Adel Taarabt’s stunning strike, which proved to be a consolation in the end, was the only thing that beat him in the type of performance which has been the hallmark of his distinguished career. Defensive stability and organisation is a key factor in their success this season, with just five goals leaked, as the Hammers sit pretty in seventh spot.