Today, Queen's Park Rangers played out a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Leicester City at Loftus Road. As I'm sure you all know, QPR has both Tom Carroll and Benoit Assou-Ekotto on loan from Tottenham, in addition to ex-Spur Niko Kranjcar on loan from Dynamo Kiev. This is the first of (hopefully) many reports that I'll do on our loanees across several clubs this season, in order to keep everybody up to date with their progress.
Tommy had a bit of an average first half, largely down to Joey Barton's willingness to bomb forward, often leading to Carroll being the deepest member of QPR's midfield. He struggled to have an impact on the attack, but defended well when called upon and his ability was apparent throughout the match. He also set up one of the best chances of the half, playing an excellent one touch pass to Matt Phillips, whose shot was saved. At half time, Harry Redknapp quite clearly mixed the team up, seemingly telling Barton to drop deeper to allow Carroll greater freedom going forward and it showed. Tommy's passing game picked up and he dictated play during the first 15 minutes of the half. However, having conceded early, QPR became desperate for a goal and Carroll's passing became significantly more ambitious. Several times, he pulled it off, notably with a very neat ball to play in Junior Hoilett on the left, but he also failed with his more ambitious passes, including one to Charlie Austin that was too powerful and easily collected by Leicester's keeper, Kasper Schmiechel. Ultimately, Carroll was withdrawn in favour of Yossi Benayoun in the 69th minute, after having what can only be called a good, but not great, match in which he displayed his ridiculous ball control well.
Benny, on the other hand, was not good. For the most part, Benny was okay defensively although he should shoulder some of the blame for Leicester's goal. He didn't bother to track Jamie Vardy's run despite being the closest player and being in in a good position to close down Vardy before a shot was made. Up the other end, he wasn't much better, with poor passing leading to friction with his teammates. A poor cross from Benny straight into Charlie Austin's head at relatively close range led to the two almost coming to blows before Niko could break them up. BAE also put QPR under pressure late on, when a mishit clearance gave Leicester a chance off a corner, which luckily they failed to capitalise on. All in all, a very disappointing performance from Assou-Ekotto, who is looking less and less like the player that impressed us all for so many years.
I know most of you may have relatively little interest in how Niko performed now that he is no longer on our books, so I'll keep this brief. Niko was absolutely fantastic and without a doubt one of QPR's best performers. He threatened Schmeichel several times, while his quick flick-on passes constantly undid Leicester's defence.
Regardless of how Tottenham's loanees and ex-players performed, undoubtedly the most interesting thing about this match was the appearance of a squirrel (named Loftus Squirrel by Menno) on the pitch in the 11th minute. It held up the game for close to five minutes as QPR were waiting to take a corner, until Leicester's David Nugent finally chased it off the pitch. It also spawned this fantastic tweet from Alex Pritchard:
I thought @tom_carroll92 was already playing, but his just come onto the pitch and stopped the game.......— Alex pritchard (@pritch_93) December 21, 2013
Anyway, that's it for my first loan report. I'd love any feedback any of you have, and I'm perfectly willing to take requests for reports on players you want reports about. Obviously our loanees at QPR are the easiest to watch, but I'll gladly go out of my way to watch any of our other loanees (or even U-21 players or ex-Spurs if you so wish) if the interest is there.