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Torres Chelsea v QPR


The pride of west London is at stake, but far more important for both sides are the three precious points. We look at what might swing them in Chelsea's favour.

Key battles
There is no disguising the huge blow to Chelsea that Petr Cech is absent. The big Czech has been in imperious form this season and was arguably Chelsea's player of 2012 - not least for his heroics in the Allianz Arena.

With Cech's putative successor Thibaut Courtois on a season-long loan at Atlético Madrid, Rafael Benítez must decide between three players whose first-team involvement has been very limited recently.

Promising youngster Jamal Blackman's only experience to date was being on the bench for Arsenal's visit last season.

Hilario, now 37, has not played since August 2011, and even Ross Turnbull, the likely replacement, had not figured since two matches in May prior to coming on for the second half at Goodison.

It was his fourth league appearance and the few saves he had to make with bring him confidence. Turnbull has faced QPR three times previously between 2005 and 2007 with Crewe and Cardiff and kept one clean sheet over two wins and one loss.

Manager Harry Redknapp is still struggling to find the right mix of players and formation at QPR, which may offer Chelsea opportunities to exploit.

He started the 0-3 defeat at home to Liverpool with a 4-4-1-1 system employing former Chelsea winger Shaun Wright-Phillips on the left and Jamie Mackie on the right.

Liverpool, and especially Suarez, found little to stop them in the final third and reaped maximum benefit in the opening half-hour.

The Rs were equally lack-lustre upfront and after 30 minutes Redknapp moved Mackie there to add some bite, then removed the disappointing Djibril Cissé at half-time - the Frenchman looks a shadow of the player who started his Rs career with six goals and two red cards in nine matches.

With a 3-5-1-1 set-up in the second period, Wright-Phillips acting as right wing-back and Armand Traoré left wing-back, no more goals were scored at either end.

Chelsea struggled against the back three of Juventus, but Clint Hill, Ryan Nelsen and Nedum Onuoha are not Bonucci, Chiellini and Barzagli, nor are either Samba Diakité or Stéphane Mbia comparable to Pirlo.

The hassling, all-out effort that just about saved their relegation skins last season often seems absent from the Rs at the moment. Perhaps it has been diluted by the flurry of summer signings, many of whom seem ill-equipped for the scrap that is currently required.

In his winter sales shopping Redknapp will no doubt be looking for Sherpas rather than Mercedes. Yesterday he also admitted a few players took knocks during the weekend defeat and will miss out tonight.

Interim manager Rafael Benítez will probably make changes in his midfield again, with Victor Moses and Oscar pressing for a start after starting on the bench at Goodison. Ramires was deployed in a less usual advanced role against Everton purely to counteract the threat of left-back Leighton Baines.

Ramires Everton v Chelsea

Frank Lampard, one notch behind the legendary Kerry Dixon on the all-time goalscoring chart, will hope to retain his place and will have noted the space around the edge of the box given to Liverpool by QPR at the weekend.

QPR will also have to find a solution for the problems that Juan Mata is causing teams with his clever decision-making in the centre on the ball at the moment.

Fernando Torres, who hit a hat-trick in this fixture last season, has hit seven goals in eight games in all competitions. An early goal could shatter the visitors' fragile confidence.

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Chelsea have won seven of our last eight matches in all competitions.

West Ham away was the only occasion this season, out of 12, we have opened the scoring in the Premier League and went on to lose the game.

Everton was the fourth time we have come back to win after going behind in the Premier League.

Only Stoke, with nine, have kept more clean sheets than Chelsea's eight.

The Blues are 13 points better off compared to the corresponding 19 fixtures last season.

Last six results
Dec 13 Monterrey (Club World Cup SF, Japan) W 3-1
Dec 16 Corinthians (Club World Cup final, Japan) L 0-1
Dec 19 Leeds (League Cup QF a) W 5-1
Dec 23 Aston Villa (h) W 8-0
Dec 26 Norwich (a) W 1-0
Dec 30 Everton (a) W 2-1


Premier League scorers
Mata 7, Torres 7, Lampard 6 (2 pens), E Hazard 4 (1 pen), Ivanovic 4, Ramires 3, Cahill 2, Cole 1, D Luiz 1, Moses 1, Oscar 1, Sturridge 1, Terry 1. Total 39

League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 1
A home defeat: 4


Chelsea's next three games
Sat 5 Jan Southampton (FA Cup) away 3pm
Wed 9 Jan Swansea (League Cup semi-final, 1st leg) home 7.45pm
Sat 12 Jan Stoke away 3pm

Frank Lampard requires one goal to equal our second highest top scorer in all competitions, Kerry Dixon with 193.

If selected, Ramires will make his 100th start in a Blue shirt.

Congratulations to Ross Turnbull who celebrates his 28th birthday on Friday.


Major trophies
1 League Cup in 1967

Rangers' best season was in 1975/76 when they finished runners-up to Liverpool in the old First Division.

Harry Redknapp has won three of his 16 managerial visits to Stamford Bridge - all in the Premier League with West Ham.

QPR have scored three goals in their last six away league games

Harry Redknapp's side have not won any of the 14 games when their opponents opened the scoring.

Rangers have won three points from a possible 30 on the road this term. There have been three draws at Norwich, Sunderland and Wigan and defeats at Manchester City, Tottenham, West Brom, Arsenal, Stoke, Manchester United and Newcastle.

Last season they had the worst away record in the Premier League with 11 points from a possible 57.

Manager Harry Redknapp
Days in charge: 39
Played 7
Won 1
Drawn 3
Lost 3

QPR's last 10 year league history
Pts Pos Division Level
2002/03 83 4th League Division Two 3
2003/04 83 2nd League Division Two 3
2004/05 62 11th Championship 2
2005/06 50 21st Championship 2
2006/07 53 18th Championship 2
2007/08 58 14th Championship 2
2008/09 61 11th Championship 2
2009/10 57 13th Championship 2
2010/11 88 1st Championship 2
2011/12 37 17th Premier League 1


Queens Park Rangers 0-3 Liverpool

Sunday 30 December 2012
Attendance 18,304
Harry Redknapp
Team Julio Cesar; Onuoha, Nelsen, Hill (c), Traoré; Mackie, Diakité, Mbia, Wright-Phillips; Taarabt, Cissé.
Substitutes Derry for Cissé (h/t), Granero for Diakité (63), Fabio for Wright-Phillips (80)
Booked Mbia, Fabio
Scorers None


Last six results
Dec 1 Aston Villa (h) D 1-1
Dec 8 Wigan (a) D 2-2
Dec 15 Fulham (h) W 2-1
Dec 22 Newcastle (a) L 0-1
Dec 26 West Brom (h) L 1-2
Dec 30 Liverpool (h) L 0-3


2012/13 Premier League scorers
Taarabt 4, Cissé 3, Zamora 3, Mackie 2, Granero 1, Hoilett 1, Nelsen 1, own goal 1. Total 16

League games since
An away win: 23
An away draw: 1
An away defeat: 0

Lee Mason's two previous Chelsea games this season included 15 goals - the 4-2 win against Reading and the 5-4 Capital One win over Manchester United, both at Stamford Bridge.

There are no suspensions.

A player will now need 10 yellow cards before he is handed a suspension (five yellows will lead to a warning as to his future conduct rather than a ban). Whereas the suspension for five yellows before 31 December is one game in length, suspension for 10 yellows is two matches although that only applies until the second Sunday in April.

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