LOCAL bragging rights are at stake as QPR kick-off the New Year with a west London derby against Chelsea.
Rangers travel to Stamford Bridge hoping to avenge a fruitless festive period after Liverpool inflicted the R’s third straight defeat on Sunday.
Luis Suarez’s double and Daniel Agger’s header cemented victory for the Reds within the first half to leave Harry Redknapp’s men eight points adrift of safety heading into 2013.
Chelsea, by stark contrast, have eyes on the top two on the back of four straight league wins following Sunday’s 2-1 success at Everton.
Frank Lampard’s leveller cancelled out Steven Pienaar’s early strike before doubling his tally to secure maximum points for Rafael Benitez’s side with 18 minutes remaining.
Rangers travel to Stamford Bridge without Ji-Sung Park (knee), Andrew Johnson (knee) and Bobby Zamora (hip), who remain on the long-term injury list.
Julio Cesar displaced Rob Green in goal for the visit of Liverpool and is expected to keep the number one jersey for the short trip across the capital.
At the other end, Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech is expected to miss out after being forced off at Goodison Park with an ankle problem.
The Czech stopper was replaced by Ross Turnbull at half-time, who will deputise again between the sticks in Cech’s absence.
Midfielder John Obi Mikel missed the trip to Merseyside but could come back into contention along with captain John Terry, as both recover from knee injuries.
CHELSEA – Likely line-up (4-2-3-1): Turnbull; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole; Luiz, Ramires; Lampard, Mata, Hazard; Torres.
Star Man … Frank LAMPARD
Frank Lampard’s future at Stamford Bridge remains unclear but he proved his worth once again with a match-winning display at Goodison Park.
After his double at the weekend, the midfielder is just two goals away from becoming Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer.
The England stalwart remains an integral part of the Blues’ title challenge, netting nine times this term in all competitions.
Now in his eleventh year at the Bridge, the 34-year-old continues to have a major influence with the Blues unbeaten in all 11 Premier League matches Lampard has appeared in this season, winning 10.
The Pre-Match Talk
R’s manager, Harry Redknapp:
“Chelsea will be really tough.
“They’re in great form and it’s a massive ask for us.
“We’ve got to believe we can beat them, though. It’s a London derby so who knows, maybe we can produce a shock.result. We’ll give it a real go.
“Every game is difficult but a run of one or two wins can make a big difference.”
Blues boss, Rafael Benitez:
“Obviously they’re [QPR] in a difficult position and that means they will be more dangerous.
“It’s a team that is fighting to avoid relegation and it will be a totally different challenge.
“We’ll have to check how each player is after the tough game at Everton.
“After that we will decide but our idea is to play in the same way, to play good football if we can, and, if we can’t, at least show some character.”
Match Odds with Bet Victor
Chelsea win: 2/9
QPR win: 14/1
Last League Meeting
QPR 0, Chelsea 0 – Barclays Premier League – Saturday 15th September 2012
Referee: L Mason
Assistants: S Ledger & H Lennard
Fourth Official: K Friend
Whether you’re at Stamford Bridge or not this midweek, Rangers fans across the globe can enjoy a whole of host of exclusive content – both before and after Wednesday’s clash with the Blues – on QPR Player.
Coverage will include our Matchday Radio Show, live commentary, extended highlights, the manager’s post-match press conference and much, much more.
for more information or to sign up to QPR Player now!
Premier League – Midweek fixtures
Kick-offs 3pm unless stated
Tuesday 1st January
West Bromwich Albion v Fulham (12.45pm)
Manchester City v Stoke City
Swansea City v Aston Villa
Tottenham Hotspur v Reading
West Ham United v Norwich City
Wigan Athletic v Manchester United
Southampton v Arsenal (5.30pm)
Wednesday 2nd January
Chelsea v QPR (7.45pm)
Liverpool v Sunderland (7.45pm)
Newcastle United v Everton (8pm)
Next QPR Fixture
West Bromwich Albion (H) – FA Cup – Saturday 5th January, kick-off 3pm