Unfortunately, there is likely to be as much focus in what happens prior to kick off in this match than the actual game itself.
The will they – won’t they handshake saga is once again overshadowing this derby match between QPR and Chelsea. It is now 11 months since the teams last met at Loftus Road in that ill-tempered game which saw the beginning of the Anton Ferdinand and John Terry affair, and the story continues to rumble on in the build up to this weekend’s game.
Much has been said, and will continue to be said about the incident, but I am going to focus on the football itself from here on in. QPR and Chelsea have had contrasting starts to the season and are already separated by an eight point margin. Whilst Chelsea have cruised to three wins out of three and sit top of the Premier League table, QPR have notched up just a single point to date. They will be as equally concerned at their points tally as they will their goals against column, which already stand at nine.
Conceding five at home to Swansea in their first home game was the worst possible opening for Mark Hughes, and he will be hoping his experienced squad step up to the plate, starting this weekend.
Experience is something QPR have in abundance, with the likes of Jose Bosingwa, Ryan Nelsen, Rob Green and Estaban Granero all moving to Loftus Road this summer.
The key question surrounding Mark Hughes’s squad is whether this new look side can gel together quickly and efficiently. There may be lots of talent on display at Loftus Road this season, but success will only come if Hughes can get them playing as a team, not as a team of individuals. A vastly improved defensive display is required if they are to take any points off Chelsea this weekend.
As for Chelsea, they return to Premier League action following an unusually long three week break, due to Super Cup commitments and then the international break. The break may have come at the worst possible time for Di Matteo and he will be hoping that there will be no loss of momentum as Chelsea look to maintain the only 100% record in England.
As with any derby match, it is likely to be a physical game, and with the past history between these two sides, tempers will need to be kept in order. QPR may benefit from a bit of physicality in the game as they will look to disrupt Chelsea’s creative midfield and get the home crowd firmly behind them.
I’m expecting a tight game, with hopefully football being the main talking point at the final whistle.