Team: Green, Onuoha, Caulker, Ferdinand, Traore, Hoilett (Zamora), Henry, Fer, Sandro (Taarabt), Kranjcar (Mutch), Austin.
Subs Not Used: McCarthy, Isla, Dunne, Vargas.
Harry Redknapp’s autumnal trip down memory lane has proved a dead-end street for his Queen’s Park Rangers side. With defeats already suffered at his old haunts of Southampton and Tottenham, West Ham United completed the hat-trick thanks to Nedum Onuoha’s early own-goal and Diafra Sakho’s second-half header.
“It wasn’t great,” said Redknapp afterwards. That was an understatement. Gary Neville’s post-match view – “diabolical” – was a touch closer to the truth. The result leaves QPR bottom of the pile but the manner of the result will sting as much as the consequences.
Toothlessness in attack and flakiness at the back is a toxic combination and both were in evidence here – only Everton have conceded more, only Burnley have scored fewer. Not that West Ham will mind. Sam Allardyce’s side claimed their second home win in succession with some ease despite a stop-start performance that failed to maintain its early sparkle.
“We’re short of goals and we’re short of goalscorers,” said Redknapp. “We’ve lost Loic Remy right on the deadline and couldn’t get a replacement. It has not been easy. We’ve had a tough start but there’s an awful long way to go.”
A lack of goals, though, is not a new problem for this Rangers side – the list of teams who outscored them in the Championship last season includes Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough and Bournemouth – and they fashioned only two chances of note here.
They both fell to Charlie Austin who created the first himself midway through the opening half after flummoxing James Tomkins on the edge of the box but planted his shot too close to Adrian. The second came courtesy of an immediate impact from Bobby Zamora following his half-time introduction from the bench but Austin poked the substitute’s cross narrowly wide.
“If you can’t create a goal threat then the rest of the tem comes under too much pressure and ultimately cracks,” said Allardyce, whose side are up to seventh.
“We’ve suffered that ourselves in the past. When you’ve got a real goalscorer in your team it makes so much difference. Look at the difference that Diego Costa has made to Chelsea.”
Allardyce ensured that his side carried plenty of threat by picking an attacking X1 with a front three of Mauro Zarate, Enner Valencia and Sakho, while Redknapp aimed for solidity by naming Karl Henry alongside Sandro in midfield.
The way in which the home team took the lead in the fifth minute though, owed nothing to tactical tinkering. The excellent Stewart Downing swung in a corner and Onuoha inadvertently bundled into his own net from close range.
After an opening spell full of verve and swagger from the home side, during which Valencia should probably have put them two up but turned wide Sakho’s cross, Rangers improved and Austin’s two missed opportunities followed.
The home side’s strut had been sucked from them, and an equaliser was looking the more likely next goal when West Ham doubled their advantage. The irrepressible Zarate let fly from distance. The ball, initially blocked, spun out to Tomkins and the defender’s hook across goal was nodded in from little more than a yard by Sakho.
Valencia thought he had made it 3-0 but saw his effort ruled out after intercepting Robert Green’s free kick inside the penalty area (“I will check the rules,” promised Allardyce ominously) and Rangers huffed and puffed thereafter to little effect.
Adrian was forced to tip wide a Niko Kranjcar free kick and Adel Taarabt fizzed a long-range effort wide but the Hammers were comfortable. QPR seem in for a season that is anything but.
John Ashdown – The Guardian