Here are the five key battles for this match.
Anton Ferdinand v Rickie Lambert
Rickie Lambert has been a central figure at Southampton ever since he joined the side. He has been effective throughout the various promotions and he needs to lead from the front in this game. Anton Ferdinand is the best placed QPR defender to deal with the Saints front man in a physical sense. Ferdinand needs to stay disciplined and ensure that the defence does not get bullied by the movement and aggression that Lambert can produce.
Ryan Nelsen v Adam Lallana
Ryan Nelsen has a big role to play in the QPR defence in terms of reading the play. Adam Lallana is a Saints player who likes to dominate the midfield areas and make forward runs at will. Nelsen needs to be able to read his movement because it will give him, or another defender, a better chance of cutting him off and stopping him from supplying other Southampton players with a killer pass or an assist for an easy goal.
Esteban Granero v Gaston Ramirez
This is the battle between the two creative midfield players from the sides. Granero has been extremely effective for QPR in terms of linking the midfield and the attack, he is the player that nearly all of the forward play goes through. Gaston Ramirez is recently back in the Southampton side following injury and he has a similar role to play. Ramirez can switch effortlessly from central to wide positions which is something QPR need to stay on top of. Whoever wins this battle should be on the winning side.
Junior Hoilett v Jose Fonte
Hoilett has to stay busy in the QPR attack because his presence and movement can create opportunities for others. A lot of the defensive attention from Southampton will be on Hoilett because he makes so many winding and unpredictable forward runs that can cause havoc in an unorganised defence. Jose Fonte is the vice-captain of the Saints and he needs to take a firm grip of the defence and ensure that they cut off all of the angles which Hoilett will try to attack.
Djibril Cisse v Maya Yoshida
Cisse is the most dangerous attacking weapon that QPR have because of his pace. Maya Yoshida is good enough in terms of his defensive positions to read when Cisse is about to pull the trigger and fly off on a run in behind the Southampton defence. If Yoshida can read these runs early then he can encourage the defence to step up and play offside, he can try and cut out the ball or he can drop a little deeper to try and compensate for his pace against Cisse’s.
image: © Tom Cuppens