Team: Cesar, Onuoha, Hill, Samba, Bosingwa, Park (Taarabt), Jenas, Granero (Diakite), Townsend, Hoilett, Remy.
Subs Not Used: Green, Fabio, Ben Haim, Mackie, Bothroyd.
Harry Houdini remains tightly buckled into a straitjacket at Loftus Road, showing little sign he is capable of wriggling free. Defeat for Queen’s Park Rangers at Everton effectively means this is one relegation escape act even Harry Redknapp, once considered the Premier League’s patron saint of lost causes, is incapable of pulling off.
It was a pitiful performance by the Londoners, so bereft of the necessary vigour one would expect from a team in the bottom three. David Moyes’ side were able to claim a comfortable victory without needing to exert themselves ahead of their potentially season-defining trip to Arsenal on Tuesday. For QPR it is a matter of when, not if, they must start studying the Championship fixture guide for next season.
Darren Gibson’s deflected shot on 40 minutes and a close-range Victor Anichebe volley early in the second-half was enough to end an 18-year wait for Everton to beat QPR. Only some excellent saves from Julio Cesar kept the score-line respectable.
The signs did not look promising for Redknapp even before the kick-off. He candidly admitted leaving out midfield enforcer, Stephane Mbia, because he did not think he could get through the game without collecting a 10th yellow card of the season and a two-game ban.
“He would have got booked today. He gets booked most games,” said Redknapp. “The way he plays in and around (Maroune) Fellaini, he would have got in a tangle.” Cynics may have pointed out it was Mbia’s clumsy challenge on Shaun Maloney that cost QPR precious points a week ago. If that was the case and he was omitted for indiscipline, Redknapp might struggle to send a full starting 11 out next week.
Jose Bosingwa’s body language at full-back suggested it would be with great reluctance he would break into an amble for the team’s cause. Centre-halves Christopher Samba and Clint Hill were bullied by Anichebe, and only Loic Remy and Junior Hoilett seemed to comprehend the urgency of QPR’s situation.
Everton started indifferently, but they went ahead thanks to a slice of good fortune, Gibson’s shot from the edge of the box deflected off Hill, leaving Cesar stranded. It was a stroll after that. The more the game progressed, the more QPR resembled relegation fodder as Everton picked up the pace in the second-half to expose a gulf in class. It makes Everton’s fixture at the Emirates their most significant of the season.
“If we win at Arsenal then we have a chance of being involved in the Champions League. If we don’t, we have a chance of being involved in the Europa League,” said Moyes.
Anichebe somehow failed to double the lead three minutes after half-time, Kevin Mirallas drifting past the static Bosingwa and picking out the striker. Cesar’s fingertips pushed Anichebe’s strike onto the post. Cesar also pushed aside a Sylvain Distin header as the home pressure intensified, and the inevitable second followed on 56 minutes after a succession of corners, Leighton Baines’ expert delivery and another Distin header. Anichebe was on the spot to volley in from close range.
“We were in-disciplined and sloppy,” said Redknapp. “We have got to keep going, what else can we do ? But it is getting more and more difficult. What can I do ? What can I say ? I can’t say we are down can I ?”
He will be saying it soon enough.
Chris Bascombe – The Telegraph