Ruthless Loïc Rémy could become QPR's saviour
West Ham Utd 1 Queen's Park Rangers: 1 New signing provides cutting edge but defence also impresses at Upton Park
Spirited defence won Queen's Park Rangers a point on Saturday, but Loïc Rémy's goal with his first shot in English football – about the only one that QPR mustered all afternoon – proves that a ruthless striker comes in handy as well. West Ham made a host of openings but could only find a way past a stubborn wall of visiting defenders once.
Clint Hill, one of the keystones of that wall, believes that the arrival of Rémy from Marseille for £8.5m could make the difference in the team's battle against relegation. "He made a couple of runs and was just flagged offside and then he burst through and took [his goal] well – pretty much first time – and buried it in the bottom corner, so that shows the quality he has got," Hill said.
"We've probably been lacking that little bit of a threat – we've had a few injuries as well up front – so [we needed] to get someone of his calibre into the team and he has shown how deadly he was with pretty much his first chance. Hopefully, he can kick-start our campaign. But we have to work our opportunities to get him in a bit more."
He can say that again. After Rémy's 14th-minute strike, Rangers struggled to string passes together, and Hill, Ryan Nelsen and Julio Cesar were called upon to repel mounting pressure, which emphasised the loss that will be felt when the indefatigable Nelsen eventually leaves to manage Toronto FC.
"Our combined ages are about 69 and he has been brilliant," Hill said. "He is a great man and a great leader and, more importantly, he's one of the best centre-halves I've played with. He is calm, doesn't say a lot, just gets on with the game and leads by example. He has been our most consistent and best player this season and for someone that's 35 years old and come into the club not thinking he would be first choice it's a great credit to him. He's going to be a massive loss to the club but you can understand why he is going."
QPR would face less pressure if they had 31-year-old Joe Cole to keep the ball in midfield, but he chose to rejoin West Ham, his old club, rather than Harry Redknapp, his former manager, and showed his forwards the way with a well-deserved equaliser in his third appearance after almost a decade away at Chelsea and Liverpool.
"There are plenty of memories, more so at the training ground, where I was since I was an 11-year-old," Cole said. "I still feel 21, I feel I'm getting a bit stronger and it's nice to be affecting the game.
"It was difficult to turn Harry down – he's a top man and a great manager. They fought really hard today, but I felt we really deserved three points. You can have difficult moments in the season and if you can pick up points in the difficult moments you do all right."
Goals: West Ham United J Cole 68. QPR Remy 14. Substitutions: West Ham C Cole 7 (Chamakh, 62), Vaz Te (Nolan, 89). Queen's Park Rangers Traore 5 (Wright-Phillips, 59), Bothroyd 6 (Mackie, 67), Park (Taarabt, 82).
Bookings: West Ham Tomkins. Man of the match J Cole. Match rating 7/10. Possession: West Ham 70%. QPR 30%. Attempts on target: West Ham 9. QPR 2.
Referee H Webb (South Yorkshire). Attendance 34,962.
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