Chelsea vs. Queens Park Rangers: Team News & Preview

Shaun Botterill

Queens Park Rangers. For two months(!), they were the only team Chelsea had dropped points against in the Premier League. One late-autumn meltdown later and the draw at Loftus Road no longer sticks out like a sore thumb, but still, it's the principle of the thing.

The John Terry-Anton Ferdinand thing is always going to be a factor when we play QPR (which will be less often going forward, because they're going to get relegated), but with Terry out there probably won't be too much controversy in the build-up. Instead, let's talk about their laughable form.

Despite winning at home against Fulham a few weeks ago, their first victory in league play this season, QPR are still really, really bad. Their match against Liverpool was a fine example -- they 'only' lost 3-0 but for a while it looked as though they might pull an Aston Villa and come close to conceding double digits -- and they haven't looked any better with Harry Redknapp around than they did with Mark Hughes.

Chelsea, of course, have been in fine form since coming back from the disappointment in Japan. They've won at Goodison Park and Carrow Road, smashed Villa 8-0 at home, and navigated a tricky away match against Leeds United with relative aplomb. On paper, this isn't really a contest.

There are still some things to sweat over. Redknapp's current game plan appears to be to try to defend as deep as possible and hope Adel Taarabt does something good*, but the spanking his side received at the hands of Luis Suarez and Liverpool may actually get him to play some of his other good players, who've been benched for the egregious crime of being foreign.

*He does good somethings rather too often for the Blues to be comfortable at 0-0 or with a one goal lead.

We're unlikely to get a reunion with old friend Jose Bosingwa, because the right back reacted badly enough to being dropped to the bench that he was publicly blasted by his new manager. This makes me inordinately happy for some reason. Both Bobby Zamora and Andrew Johnson are out with long-term injuries, although Djibril Cisse's still around to cause problems up top. Park Ji-Sung is probably still out.

What should we expect from Chelsea? The Blues should be able welcome John Obi Mikel back to the fold, and with Frank Lampard scoring twice against Everton on Sunday it wouldn't be a surprise if that duo push David Luiz to either centre back or the bench. But we'll be without the services of Petr Cech, leaving Ross Turnbull manning the goal. That'll be... well, something. At least it's only QPR.

Victor Moses was rested against the Toffees, so expect to see him back in the lineup, probably at Ramires' expense. Maybe we'll see Oscar start over Eden Hazard, who was pretty disappointing over the weekend, but the young Brazilian doesn't appear to be in Rafa Benitez's good books just yet. Up top, we're going to be getting Fernando Torres, on account of having no other options there.

But to make a long story short: We're miles better than them and should win this one. Pretty easily. Don't screw it up now, Chelsea.

Date/Time: Wednesday, January 2nd; 7:45 pm GMT, 2:45 pm EST. Thursday, January 3rd; 1:15 am IST.

Venue: Stamford Bridge, London.

TV information: Fox Soccer Channel (USA), Star Sports (India)

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