The final whistle on Saturday sent Queen's Park Rangers and Tottenham Hotspur on their separate ways but their fates remain intertwined, with the fixture list giving each club the chance to help the other achieve their objectives for the season. Whether either manager can afford to rely on the other's team remains to be seen.
Tottenham can give QPR a hand in their fight against relegation by beating Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers, but although Harry Redknapp says he believes that his side can win all four of their remaining games and guarantee qualification for next season's Champions League, winning has been a problem recently. Spurs have taken three points only once in their last nine games, and scored away from White Hart Lane only once in six tries.
On Saturday, Redknapp was deprived of Emmanuel Adebayor and Louis Saha by injury, and both he and Mark Hughes, the QPR manager, will hope that one at least is fit again to finish off the work of Luka Modric and Scott Parker against Blackburn on Sunday. According to Redknapp, it is the shortage of numbers in his squad, not the growing pressure from Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle United that has caused Tottenham's results to falter.
"We are the biggest threat to ourselves, probably," he said. "We have to win our games. That is all you can do, if we do that we will be OK. I don't think there was any problem today. We just had only one striker. I had no-one to put up there. I pushed [Aaron] Lennon up front for a while, Rafa [van der Vaart] played up there, Gio [dos Santos]... I was just looking for somebody. It's frustrating but they [QPR] beat Arsenal here, Arsenal hammered away but couldn't get a goal. Mark has got them well organised. There were no holes, no gaps to play in. They didn't leave any spaces because they didn't come out and you don't blame them."
In theory, Rangers' ability to beat clubs in the higher reaches of the table should work in Redknapp's favour on Sunday when Hughes takes his team to Stamford Bridge, but although QPR have beaten Chelsea, as well as Arsenal, Liverpool and now Tottenham at Loftus Road, they have yet to trouble the top six on their own grounds. Again in theory, they are due a good away result, but they go to Chelsea without Adel Taarabt, who was sent off for a second yellow card on Saturday, having scored the winner from a free-kick.
His unpredictable skills might have troubled Chelsea, but he also showed a more diligent side to his game – his first booking was earned in a defensive position as he tracked Kyle Walker's run. "He is gaining game intelligence," Hughes said. "Sometimes he'd do great things but in the wrong area, other times he'd make a pass when he should retain possession, but now his understanding of the game is getting much better — the defensive side of the game, which is vitally important to a team in our position. There has been a marked difference, which is credit to him."
As Redknapp pointed out, it was QPR's massing in defence that frustrated Tottenham and will no doubt feature against Chelsea, with the players carrying out Hughes' instructions to the letter. "I can give them a game plan but in the end they have got to execute it and make it work and that's what they have done today," he said. Redknapp will wish for more of the same from QPR at Stamford Bridge, while Hughes will hope that Spurs will find the breakthrough against Blackburn that his men denied them.
Booked: QPR - Zamora, Taarabt, Onuoha, Hill.
Sent off: QPR - Taarabt (78).
Man of the match Kenny
Referee M Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)
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