Repeat of Chelsea gameplan gives QPR a chance against Manchester City
Striker Jay Bothroyd believes QPR must recycle their strategy from the Chelsea game to pull off another shock result against league leaders Manchester City.
City are looking formidable as they head for Loftus Road on Saturday – so far they have won nine out of 10 Premier League fixtures and average more than three and a half goals per game.
But Chelsea were also hot favourites when they made the short trip to Shepherd’s Bush just 11 days ago, only to succumb to a gutsy, high-tempo approach from Neil Warnock’s team.
And Bothroyd, who netted his first goal for the club in Sunday’s 3-1 defeat at Tottenham, knows Rangers must produce a repeat performance to have any hope of halting the City juggernaut.
"On any given day, if a team doesn’t turn up, they can be turned over. I think Blackpool showed that last year and teams will show it this year," said Bothroyd.
"We're under no illusions. Manchester City are a world-class side with world-class players, but we have to make it difficult for them at home.
"Against Chelsea, we got into their faces and got stuck in – we got the three points, but I still feel we could have kept the ball better than we did. This is going to be similar.
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"I think we have to frustrate City as long as we can and try to get a goal.
"These are the games you look forward to – you want to play against the best players in the world and try to embrace that."
While the Chelsea victory has raised hopes among fans that Rangers are capable of competing with the top sides in the Premier League, Bothroyd is quick to stress that survival this season remains the primary aim.
"We just got together this year, the nucleus of the squad is new and we're still working on a lot of things," added the 29-year-old. "We're not kidding ourselves – we’re not a top seven or eight, or top 10 side.
"Don't get me wrong, we’ve signed some really good players, but we're far from a top 10 side. We just want to cement our place in the Premier League."
Easy though it is to forget, that was also Manchester City’s chief concern less than a decade ago when they returned to the top flight under Kevin Keegan after several roller-coaster years.
The arrival of their mega-rich owners from Abu Dhabi in 2008 drastically changed the landscape, though, and City's unquestionable expectation is now to win the Premier League rather than just to remain part of it.
That confidence comes with the knowledge that manager Roberto Mancini has the most expensive squad in history at his disposal, and it is hard to see any obvious weak link.
City’s captain Vincent Kompany is suspended following his red card against Wolves last weekend, which could mean a first Premier League start for Montenegrin defender Stefan Savic in central defence.
He is likely to play alongside Joleon Lescott, with two other England internationals – goalkeeper Joe Hart and right-back Micah Richards, as well as Russia’s Aleksandar Kolarov – completing the back line.
Like QPR boss Warnock, Mancini favours fielding two defensive-minded midfielders and his preferred pair – Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure – will certainly make life difficult for Rangers in the centre of the park.
Even with the controversial Carlos Tevez well and truly out of favour, City have extensive options in attack, with Edin Dzeko or Mario Balotelli likely to lead the line.
Behind his main striker, Mancini has the luxury of perming three from World Cup winner David Silva, Argentinian star Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri, James Milner and Adam Johnson.
On the face of it, a frightening prospect for Rangers – but, as Warnock keeps pointing out: "This is why I wanted to get back into the Premier League. It's fantastic."
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