QPR review and climbing the Champions League mountain – but do we have a head for heights?

We are back to the league tonight with a visit to “The Bush” to play QPR. With six league fixtures to go before the preposterous and needless trek (unless you are overly concerned about lining FA coffers) down to Wembley for the FA Cup Semi Final now is the time to focus on making ground in the league.

These six games QPR (tonight), Wigan, Newcastle, Villa, Blackburn and Fulham are all winnable. If we are to make a fist of getting anywhere near to fourth spot then I’d suggest that we need to be more consistent than we’ve ever been this season and win at least five of them, even then we are not guaranteed to progress as we are relying on others to slip up. It’s a bit like revising for an exam. We should have done the work much earlier in the term, sorry season, and now, with the deadline looming, we are facing the difficult prospect of “cramming” for points.

Will we “pass”? Steven Gerrard seems to think so

“We just have to try to win as many games as we can and see where it takes us. We won’t give up on the top four until it’s impossible. You can talk about luck, things not going your way, but you have to take responsibility for putting the ball in the back of the net…… the performances have been really good. The big picture is that the squad is a lot stronger and we are moving forward. But unless we can get the ball in the back of the net and have an end product we are going to find (ourselves) sixth or seventh in the league and that’s not what we want.”

That, I guess, is the long and short of it. Performances have been fine however, we need to finish. Form wise it’s going to take a big shift in the next month from what we’ve shown so far this season in order for that to be achieved. Throughout the season every time we’ve had a good result talk has been about “kicking on” yet in fairness it hasn’t really happened you only have to see our results immediately after the Carling Cup Final to appreciate that. Now is our last chance?

This begins tonight with a visit to QPR who have their own battle to face. I’ve two friends who are QPR fans one of them hasn’t missed a home game since Florence Nightingale was a trainee nurse! The up and down years have clearly taken a toll as he seems to have a less than optimistic attitude about their prospects every time things look like going wrong however, usually, it turns out to be alright, in the end! This season however I’m not so sure. QPR have a horrendous run in which involves playing six of the top seven. Work cut out or what? Again, like us, perhaps they will be ruing missing opportunities earlier in the season? Sadly the outcome could be harsher although I think one has to give ex manager Neil Warnock the prize for the quote of the year so far. When he was sacked he said….

“I take full responsibility for where we are, the Premier League.”

Clearly QPR know the enormity of the task that faces them and, given the welcoming prospect of the two Mancs teams, Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea, will probably see this, comparatively, as one of their “winnable” games, it’s at home at least! For us this is the sort of “potential banana skin” game we’ve fallen foul of in recent times so we need to be wary. QPR will certainly have to show more imagination than they did at Anfield in the corresponding fixture earlier this season where they turned up and went home and didn’t really do much in-between (click here for match report). Nonetheless our 1-0 victory flew in the face of our traditional habit of being generous to newly promoted teams and welcoming them to the Premiership with points, let’s hope we are in a stingy mood tonight?

Team wise it looks like Craig Bellamy might be back after missing out on Sunday although we will still be without Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger. I think the back four has acquitted itself well in their absence, although it’s not really a surprise Carragher has seen it all before and Kelly, in my book at least, has always been a much better opinion than Johnson.

Prediction? Sorry Malc and Chris, if we are to make a last ditch challenge for that increasingly distance forth spot we need to win this one and I take us to do just that 2-0.

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