By Hugo Varley
Fulham and QPR face off for the first time in over two years tonight. As with most West London derbies the game is likely to be an event filled affair and the sold out away end should create a cauldron of atmosphere at Craven Cottage.
Fulham are currently sitting in a disappointing 16th place in the Championship and fell to defeat at Sheffield Wednesday last weekend. Their cause will not be helped by the likely absence of injured trio Jazz Richards, Scott Parker and Luke Garbutt. However, there is hope that right back Ryan Fredericks will recover from a hamstring injury in time to face the Hoops. Jamie O’Hara and Tom Cairney are also expected to come back into the side after missing Tuesday’s 2-0 Capital One Cup loss to Stoke.
Fulham manager Kit Symons expressed his excitement ahead of the West London derby, telling reporters “It’s always a brilliant atmosphere here. We’ll do our best to drive the fans on, and they’ll drive us on, and together we’ll do our very best to beat QPR.”
Although they currently sit above Fulham in the table, QPR boss Chris Ramsey will know that his fans are expecting the club to finish much higher than their current 9th place standing. Reports suggest that both Sando and Leory Fer could be introduced back into the fold tonight after the duo came through a development match against Crewe on Tuesday.
QPR’s main goal scoring threat is likely to come from 26 year-old Charlie Austin, who scored 18 goals in the Premier League last season and has already netted seven goals in eight Championship matches this campaign. Symons admitted that he is wary of Austin’s threat but said that his side must avoid becoming overly occupied with the QPR front man.
“Everyone’s seen what (Austin) can do over the years – he’s an excellent player and a massive goal threat for them.
“But also I’m fully aware they’ve got other very good players as well who can score goals, and we need to make sure we’re solid as a team and we defend as a team and we snuff out all of their threats.”
With a lot at stake the game looks likely to be a closely fought encounter that could be decided by a moment of brilliance…or a moment of madness.