Richard Dunne

QPR is cleaning house: Barton, Ferdinand, Zamora all out at Loftus Road

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After finishing dead last in the Premier League and being relegated to the Championship, Queens Park Rangers will be cutting down its roster next season.

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Manager Chris Ramsey acknowledged that there would be quite a bit of turnaround for the club, with many players being out of contract at the end of this season and with the club needing to be smart financially without the cash flow from playing in the Premier League.

Today, the club announced that only Clint Hill and Alejandro Faurlin would be offered new deals at Loftus Road.

That means that Rio Ferdinand, Bobby Zamora, Richard Dunne, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Brian Murphy and club captain Joey Barton will not be wearing the blue and white hoops of Queens Park Rangers next season.

QPR will also lose Niko Kranjcar, Eduardo Vargas and Mauro Zarate, who were all on loan at Loftus Road.

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The Hoops spent big money on their quest to earn Premier League glory, but the club flopped, losing 24 of 38 matches and finishing last in the league. Defense was the biggest issue, as Queens Park Rangers conceded a whopping 73 goals on the season.

Losing so many key players will surely hurt QPR, even though they will be playing in the second division. It’s almost certain the club will also lose top scorer Charlie Austin, who will surely receive a nice pay day from a bigger club after scoring 18 goals in his first season in the Premier League.

Premier League preview: Liverpool vs. Queens Park Rangers

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  • Liverpool hold commanding 34W-8D-8L record in series
  • Reds won 3-2 at Loftus Road in October
  • QPR’s last Anfield win came in 1991

Two sides chasing unlikely scenarios meet at Anfield on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

Liverpool’s top four hopes have been all-but-dashed by Tuesday’s loss to Hull City, while QPR sits four points away from Premier League safety with four matches to play in the season.

The Reds are certainly the more talented side, but how plucky will they be feeling knowing an undefeated finish would still require a Top Four rival to basically lose out? Daniel Sturridge remains out for Liverpool, and is off to Boston to explore whether hip surgery is a good choice for his rehabilitation.

Leroy Fer is set to enter the fray for QPR, which could be without Bobby Zamora (who has been playing through pain).

What they’re saying

Liverpool’s Jordon Ibe on progressing as a player: “You could see how well everything was going when I first came back and we won three or four games on the bounce but now we’re going through a difficult spell. But it’s great for me to go through this and hopefully we can get out of this stage.”

QPR boss Chris Ramsey on the team’s survival mindset“The mood’s been fantastic. They were a bit deflated after the weekend but the likes of Joey Barton, Clint Hill and Richard Dunne have been making sure nobody’s chin is too low to the ground. We do believe we can stay up. We know it’s going to be a very difficult task but everybody is up for it.”

Prediction

It’s hard one to call, really. If this were JPW’s PL picks, I’d peg this one under “Don’t touch this”.  QPR’s a grittier side under Chris Ramsey, and the absence of Harry Redknapp’s bluster would seem to be helping, but moral victories count for little any more. Anfield will be the deciding factor, though, at least in my prediction. Liverpool, 3-2.

Premier League roundup: Tense Saturday, as relegation battle intensifies

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It was a busy, busy Saturday in the Premier League as eight games took place and plenty of drama ensued.

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Wins for Leicester City (four on the spin) and Hull City in and around the relegation zone were massive, while Manchester City won a stunner against Aston Villa to cement their top four hopes and Southampton played out an entertaining draw with Tottenham.

[ RELATED: Standings | videos | schedule ]

Just in case you missed anything, below are recaps, videos, analysis, reaction and more from all eight matches.

Southampton 2-2 Tottenham HotspurRECAP

A breahtaking game at St Mary’s as sixth-placed Spurs grabbed a point against seventh-placed Saints. Graziano Pelle twice gave Saints the lead but Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli equalizer to grab a point for Mauricio Pochettino on his return to Southampton.

Manchester City 3-2 Aston VillaRECAP

City survived a second half scare to cement their top four hopes. A horrendous blunder from Brad Guzan made it 1-0 as Sergio Aguero punished the USMNT man, then Aleksandar Kolarov made it 2-0 with a free kick in the second half. That sparked Villa into life as Tom Cleverely and Carlos Sanchez scored to make it 2-2 with five minutes left. But there was one more twist in the tale as Fernandinho scored in the 89th minute to make it 3-2. Huge win for the Citizens, while Villa are still struggling and just two points above the drop zone.

Newcastle United 2-3 Swansea CityRECAP

Seven defeats on the spin now for Newcastle. It started so well as Ayoze Perez gave them the lead but three goals from Oliveira, Sigurdsson and Cork gave Swansea a commanding lead. A late goal from Siem de Jong made it 3-2, but Newcastle is now just five points above the drop zone.

Stoke City 1-1 SunderlandRECAP

Sunderland went ahead through Connor Wickham but another beauty from Charlie Adam leveled things up in the first half and that was how things finished. Despite grabbing a point on the road, Sunderland dropped into the bottom three with four games to go. Panic stations for Dick Advocaat’s men.

Burnley 0-1 Leicester CityRECAP

This was a huge game in the relegation scrap and a minute of madness decided this one. Burnley missed a penalty kick as Matt Taylor hit the post and moments later Leicester went up the other end as Jamie Vardy was credited with the game-winning goal. Four wins on the spin for the Foxes now, as they climb out of the relegation zone on 31 points. Burnley is now bottom on 26 points and are five points from safety with four games to save themselves.

West Bromwich Albion 0-0 LiverpoolRECAP

Jordon Ibe hit the bar and Jordan Henderson came close for Liverpool but they couldn’t break down a stubborn West Brom outfit. The Baggies had good chances themselves as Callum McManaman went close late on and James Morrison had a header cleared off the line. Liverpool’s top four hopes are all but over.

QPR 0-0 West Ham UnitedRECAP

Charlie Austin, QPR’s leading scorer, had a penalty kick saved by Adrian in the first half. West Ham’s goalkeeper denied Matt Phillips late on and was fouled by Steven Caulker as Richard Dunne headed home a disallowed goal in the second half. The Hammers went close through Aaron Cresswell’s free kick which was tipped over superbly by Robert Green. QPR had the better chances but are four points from safety.

Crystal Palace 0-2 Hull CityRECAP

An end-to-end game in south London went Hull’s way as Dame N’Doye scored twice in the second half to give the Tigers their first win in seven matches. Steve Bruce looked like a relieved man afterwards as Hull now have breathing space but are still just one point clear of the bottom three.

Watch Live: QPR vs Chelsea (Lineups and Live Stream)

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It’s title favorite against relegation threatened as Queens Park Rangers looks to earn a famous victory against Jose Mourinho and his Chelsea machine from Loftus Road live on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

Mourinho’s men can restore a healthy lead at the top of the table with a win, where Arsenal has closed things down to just a four point gap, but Chelsea has a pair of games in hand to pull back ahead.

Unfortunately for Chelsea, they are down a very important man in leading scorer Diego Costa, out with his hamstring injury that has troubled him all season and flared up last week against Stoke City. He is expected out for close to a month, and Mourinho will rely on Didier Drogba and Loic Remy for most of the way. Drogba starts today, and Remy fails to even make the squad thanks to a late calf injury in yesterday’s training, leaving 18-year-old Isaiah Brown as the only up-front option on the bench.

WATCH LIVE: QPR vs Chelsea live online at NBC Sports Live Extra

Cesc Fabregas is in the lineup despite a broken nose and will wear a protective mask. Both he and Nemanja Matic are staring two-match yellow card suspensions in the face with one more booking, with back-to-back games against Arsenal and Manchester United on the horizon.

For QPR, things look bleak on the injury front as they hope to avoid relegation. Defender Richard Dunne is on the bench as he returns from knee surgery, while Rio Ferdinand and Michael Doughty are both out with injuries. Eduardo Vargas, Leroy Fer and Alejandro Faurlin are all suffering from long-term knee injuries and remain out. Yun Suk-young will miss out with a concussion as well. If Chris Ramsey can somehow pull out three points, it would pull QPR out of the relegation zone and into 16th place.

LINEUPS:

QPR: Green, Isla, Caulker, Onuoha, Hill, Phillips, Sandro, Barton, Henry, Zamora, Austin.
Bench: McCarthy, Traore, Dunne, Kranjcar, Hoilett, Grego-Cox, Comley.

Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, Fabregas; Ramires, Willian, Hazard; Drogba.
Bench: Cech, Zouma, Filipe Luis, Mikel, Oscar, Cuadrado, Brown.

The Premier League has its newest member: Queens Park Rangers

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Congratulations, Queens Park Rangers, on your promotion to the Premier League! QPR beat Derby County in the Championship Playoff Final, with Bobby Zamora putting a 90th minute goal past a diving Lee Grant.

This means (as of now) there will be quite a few familiar faces returning to the first division: Joey Barton. Bobby Zamora. Richard Dunne. Rob Green. And, of course, Harry Rednapp.

Most neutrals were displeased with the result, however. In the first half, Derby had a penalty appeal waved away, then shortly thereafter, Dunne wasn’t punished after committing a handball.

It’s not the officiating as much as the desire to have a new face in the Premier League – or at least, to not have Queens Park Rangers returning after just a year away. Many are unimpressed by QPR, who have a hefty wage bill and play a style of football that doesn’t appeal to many watchers. Derby, however, haven’t been in the top flight since 2007-2008, when they set a record…of scoring the least points in the Premier League, with just 11.

Six years later, and such cursed form hit Derby once more. The Rams seemed comfortably on top in the final 30 minutes, after Gary O’Neil was sent off for bringing down Johnny Russell as the forward went free on goal. Green was up to the challenge, saving anything Derby sent his way, but QPR weren’t making much of their rare attacks.

Then, in the 90th minute, a defensive error from Richard Keogh put the ball right at Zamora’s toes. The 33-year-old wasted no time firing in his left-footed shot – and putting QPR back into the Premier League. To their credit though, the goal was sublime, and it will be interesting to see what adjustments they make for the upcoming season.

QPR joins Leicester City, who won the Championship title with two games to spare, and Burnley, who comfortably took second, in being promoted for the 2014-2015 season.