Chelsea’s derby clash with QPR at Loftus Road on Saturday is in danger of being overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the pre-match handshakes. John Terry and Ashley Cole are fit to return after missing England’s 1-1 draw with Ukraine this week through injury. The player at the centre of last season’s highly charged Premier League clash, QPR’s Anton Ferdinand, is also expected to take part. The Chelsea skipper was cleared in the courts but still faces a Football Association charge over the incident. The two sides have met twice since with the usual pre-match handshakes being dispensed with due to fears of a repeat of the Suarez/Evra incident.
As soon as the preliminaries are over, Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo will be hoping that his team can bounce back quickly from the 4-1 defeat by Atletico Madrid in the Super Cup. The team admitted to being humiliated by that embarrassing defeat and it came as a timely reminder to the European champions that they can take nothing for granted this season. With three wins from their three opening Premiership fixtures, the Blues are sitting pretty on top of the table but they have not yet proven that they are worthy title contenders. Eden Hazard may have received rave reviews for his performances so far but the new players are still to be completely integrated into the set up. Di Matteo has many options including a possible start for Oscar and Moses. His team selection may also be complicated by the recent form of Frank Lampard who played two excellent games for his country in the World Cup qualifiers, scoring three times in the process.
QPR suffered their own embarrassment with a 5-0 home defeat by Swansea in their opening fixture. A draw at Norwich was followed by a 3-0 cup victory over Walsall. Despite going down 3-1 against champions Manchester City last time, they did put up a brave performance and could have snatched a draw with a bit more luck. Jose Bosingwa could line up against his old club for the first time.
Bet365 make Chelsea 5-6 favourites to record a fourth consecutive victory with QPR at 7-2 and 5-2 the draw. Both defences have looked suspect in recent games so it could be worth taking the 9-4 about there being more than 3 goals in this fixture.
Frank Lampard will be hoping to retain his place for the derby clash but Di Matteo may choose to rest him. Torres is the bookies favourite at 4-1 with in-form Eden Hazard at 15-2. QPR’s biggest threat could come from Bobby Zamora who is 9-1 to give QPR a shock lead.