Worried Hoops

As part of our Premier League snap-shots feature, Graeme Bailey looks back on QPR's 1-1 draw with Reading at Loftus Road.

Ryan Nelsen: Still a key figure for QPR

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Reading can take so much more from their draw with Queens Park Rangers, despite the fact both teams are winless.

Somewhat unbelievably, both teams come into November without a league win - and it is not inconceivable they could reach the New Year in the same state.

Reading started brightly and went ahead through Kaspars Gorkss and they were only denied by a nice finish from Djibril Cisse.

Yes QPR could have won the game, but the fact they did not deserve to will surely be the biggest worry.

Selection

Mark Hughes unsurprisingly went with Djibril Cisse ahead of Bobby Zamora and that proved the right decision. Anton Ferdinand started in central defence, which could be questioned given they also have Nedum Onuoha on the bench.

Despite their League Cup capitulation in midweek, Brian McDermott stuck by his men, although it was very interesting to see Sean Morrison handed his debut in central defence.

Tactics

QPR went in theory with a 4-4-2, but with Adel Taarabt, Esteban Granero and Junior Hoilett it was a very fluid system with Cisse as the fulcrum of the attack with Mackie backing him up.

Samba Diakite provided an excellent anchor in midfield - but the system did leave the full-backs with little cover.

Reading play a more rigid 4-4-2 with two wide men and two midfield players in Mikele Leigertwood and Jay Tabb, who work as an excellent unit.

This system meant that full-backs Nicky Shorey and Chris Gunter had more cover, whilst also given licence to get forward and join in the attack.

Substitutions

QPR did not do much in regards to changing things with Bobby Zamora and Nedum Onuoha entering the fray late on, but they did not see a change in the home's side style.

Reading manager Brian McDermott was more pro-active with his changes as he used his substitutions to freshen up his side, replacing both his wide-men, with Jimmy Kebe and Hal Robson-Kanu coming on and making decent impacts. He also threw on Adam Le Fondre to give extra legs up-front and settling for the draw was clearly not in his thinking.

Referee

Michael Oliver gave a solid display and was not card happy, allowing the game to flow when he could.

A late booking for Le Fondre's dive was a highlight for Oliver as he missed very little.

Main men

Cisse, Taarabt and Granero are key for QPR - if they all play well, they will win games. On Sunday they weren't bad, but they weren't great. Taarabt battled for 90-minutes but nothing really went his way, including the late chance which he should have scored. Cisse scored his goal but probably should have offered more, whilst Granero never really got into the game like he would have hoped.

A real worry for QPR must be their over-reliance on veteran Ryan Nelsen - who was still their best defender by far against Reading.

Reading have a brilliant young talent in Alex McCarthy and the young keeper was excellent for the Royals with a couple of great saves. It's easy to see why he was brought in earlier this season.

If you haven't seen Reading play, you probably would not realise how important Leigertwood and Tabb are in central midfield, but they work as a double act and were very impressive, getting the better of Diakite and Granero for the most part.

Looking ahead

For both teams, no win at this stage is no doubt a huge worry - but more so for QPR.

Having been one of the biggest spenders in the Premier League this summer, hopes were high that QPR would not be involved in the relegation battle again - following their final day survival last term.

But the signs are not good for Rangers. This game was surely the one Mark Hughes had marked down as a 'must-win' but the fact they failed to get three points is almost secondary to the manner of their performance.

The next 'must-win' game is now surely Southampton on November 17th - the team they have sent bottom with this point. Anything other than a win against the Saints would surely spell massive danger for Hughes and his men.

Reading are no better off than Rangers, but they will take so much more from this game.

With Norwich next up, they will know that is a huge game for their season. They are not playing badly but the longer they do without a win, the longer it will be a millstone around the neck of their Premier League survival hopes.