Team: Green 6, Caulker 7, Dunne 5 (Onuoha 6), Ferdinand 6, Barton 6, Traore 6, Mutch 7, Isla 6, Fer 5 (Faurlin 6), Remy 6, Phillips 6 (Zamora 6)
Substitutes not used: Simpson, Wright-Phillips, Murphy, Hoilett
One of the most sobering stats ahead of Sunday’s defeat at White Hart Lane was that Rangers had only won three on all the previous 23 visits. It’s an intimidating place to go to at the best of times. For this fledging Premier League QPR side it was an early test perhaps we could have done without. Nonetheless it was an opportunity to see where we stood against a top six side.
And the answer unfortunately wasn’t one the assembled 1,750 travelling hoops wanted. Harry Redknapp set up with a 5-4-1 formation. Loic Remy led the line whilst Matty Phillips sat in front of the middle three of Joey Barton, Jordon Mutch and new signing Leroy Fer. The only change in the back five from the Hull defeat was Mauricio Isla replacing Danny Simpson at right wing back. Charlie Austin was ruled out with a ‘slight hamstring injury’.
Spurs, under the tutelage for the Mauricio Pochettino at home for the first time, dominated from the off. Class was evident throughout the side and the chosen 4-2-3-1 Tottenham formation created havoc for the Rangers lineup all afternoon.
The warning signs became evident on ten minutes when Richard Dunne made a mistake in an advanced position gifting the ball to Érik Lamela. The Argentinian, a misfit at Spurs last season, strode forward unchallenged, not for the first time that afternoon. He found Nacer Chadli on the left who played in Nabil Bentaleb. Emmanuel Adebayor rose above Dunne to meet the resulting cross only for the header to drift menacingly over the bar.
Rangers struggled to make any early impact at all. Remy got hold of the odd long ball but was quickly and efficiently marshalled by Spurs defence. Mutch looked busy while Fer often looked lost in the presence of his new team mates.
On 12 minutes the inevitable happened. Joey Barton tried to play in Remy who was dispossessed by an onrushing Bentaleb. Isla and Steven Caulker were bystanders as Adebayor picked up the pass down the left. Unselfishly the Togolese striker neatly crossed for an unchallenged Chadli to chest down and chip past Robert Green.
Chadli controls for the first goal as Dunne looks on
Adebayor had a golden opportunity two minutes later to score on the break following a rare foray forward and corner from Rangers. Jan Vertonghen surged ahead and his pass wasn’t properly dealt with by Armand Traore, but Adebayor scuffed his shot to Green.
Rangers had one great chance in the first half – it fell to Phillips after a long ball from Barton, and Phillips did so well to bring the ball inside ‘man-mountain’ Younès Kaboul. But with only Hugo Lloris to beat the Rangers forward man spooned it over the bar trying for a chip when slotting the ball low might have been a better alternative. What a difference it might have made to Rs confidence and energy levels had that one gone in…
But confidence and energy seems to drain away from QPR. On the halfway mark of the half Rio Ferdinand made a late challenge on Lamela 25 yards out. Christian Eriksen nearly scored with a thunderous free kick which hit the bar. Surely the vanishing spray will make this type of opportunity more profitable thought the Premier League this season.
Rangers now lethargically sat back and already looked beaten. On 29 minutes a Lamela corner was headed in at the near post by Eric Dier who seemed to easily conquer Fer in the air and head home to make it 2-0.
Dier beats Green at the near post
This was now becoming embarrassing as wave after wave of Spurs pressure came in. Our system just wasn’t working, it didn’t feel as if our middle three knew their roles and Phillips looked lost in an unfamiliar central position. Our wing backs looked uncomfortable, especially Isla who was getting done time after time.
Hooped noses were well and truly rubbed in it on 37 minutes when a 48-pass move by Spurs ended in another swashbuckling Lamela run midfield and a pinpoint cross to Chadli who headed home with aplomb. Hard to blame anyone QPR player for the goal for the level of effort and application at that point was lousy. It was very noticeable though that Ferdinand thought about going out to challenge Lamela, was caught in ‘no-mans-land’ leaving Chadli with the free header.
Harry replaced the hapless Dunne at the break with Nedum Onuoha, who can count himself unlucky not to have got a start. Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the first half is that the QPR management team saw the players and the system getting repeatedly ripped apart and seemed to do nothing. By the time Onuoha came on the game was long dead as a spectacle.
The second half took on the status and significance of a testimonial. Rangers went to a four at the back and looked a little stronger although still seemed slow and had difficulty clearing their lines. Spurs continued to dominate possession, and most positive attacking was easily snuffed out.
Isla faces up to Rose
Rangers day was summed up on 53 minutes when a promising spell for QPR came to an abrupt end when a lazy Remy back pass evaded Caulker was jumped on by Adebayor. He fed it on the break to Lamela but Ferdinand showed his experience by shepherding the ball into touch.
On 65 minutes the rout was confirmed by a terrific piece of wing play. The excellent Danny Rose played a one-two with Chadli and crossed into Adebayor. Ferdinand couldn’t intercept the cross and Traore wasn’t close enough to challenge the Spurs striker. Adebayor did what Phillips should have done in the first half, scoring low and hard to the keeper’s left.
By now the Rangers support was thinning out and those remaining were left ashen-faced at proceedings. After the fourth goal Alejandro Faurlin replaced Fer and five minutes later Bobby Zamora came on for Phillips. QPR were brighter and possession came a little more easily and Spurs stepped off the gas. Late chances for Caulker and Remy, but a pretty good penalty shout for a Rose handball, couldn’t take the tarnish off what was a chastening day for QPR fans.
Faurlin and Zamora play out time
Sadly social media seemed preoccupied after the game with arguments over two unfortunate off-field incidents. One QPR fan in the upper tier caused a disturbance by waving a Palestinian flag – surely an unnecessarily inflammatory thing to do at White Hart Lane. Secondly Redknapp received a fair dose of criticism for responding to Spurs fans requests to give them a wave. The first occurrence in the first half raised few eyebrows, but the second at 4-0 provoked an angry action from some travelling Rangers. The timing of the second wave was particularly bad although the reaction at the time and after the game was equally hysterical in some quarters.
A bad day at the office then for sure. The Premier League has a wonderful way of providing the proverbial pin to burst the fans’ bubble. There has been so much optimism recently with the signings and of course Vargas is yet to play as he has not received a work permit. This game provided a number of lessons for Rangers fans. You can spend whatever you like, say whatever you like, sign the ‘right sort’ and learn as many mistakes as you can. If the effort and application are not there on the pitch you will get harshly punished.
The next home game against Sunderland now has a lot of pressure behind it. Surely a failure there to get off the mark will leave the nerves jangling. Burton Albion in the league cup also lies ahead midweek. This feels like a game which must not just be discarded, as other recent QPR efforts in the cup have demonstrated.
At least we’re only one point behind Man United…
QPR MOM: Caulker – looks accomplished and was the stand-out in the back line. We need other players to step up and demonstrate a similar level of class.
Spurs MOM: Lamela – Quick, stylish and persistent. Put himself about in midfield too. Fantastic assist for Chadli’s second goal.
Attendance: 36,109 (approx 1,750 QPR)
(Photos provided by Sandra Sayce and are used with permission)