It's about time that we at Fulham resumed some sort of rivalry with a club within our locale - it's not like there's few to choose from. Chelsea have provided the closest resemblance to a local derby over recent years, but while we anticipate the game with an abundance of expectation, apprehension and, to a certain degree, resentment, the feeling from Stamford Bridge is a long way off being reciprocated. To them, we are but another team on the calender. Queens Park Rangers though, surely, must provide a more tangible definition for Fulham's 'grudge match of the season'.
So, step forward Neil Warnock and your valiant warriors. Welcome to Craven Cottage.
Queen's Park Rangers are, of course, new to this latest era of Premier League football, having been promoted off the back of Bernie Ecclestone led investment and some astute management from the vociferous Neil Warnock. He guided his men to the Championship title last year but in doing so, hazed the rulings of third party ownership, with the purchase of Alejandro Faurlin being punished with a paltry fine of £875,000.
Their summer has been an entertaining one, for want of a more suitable word. With Ecclestone in charge, little was happening on the transfer front, but once he had departed and Tony Fernandes made himself comfortable in his new chairman seat, the dealings began to creep through. Most notable was undoubtedly Joey Barton's move south from Newcastle, an acquisition Warnock claimed was only plausible 'because of his considerable baggage.' Put in the bluntest of terms but most assuredly true.
The start to their season has reflected their turbulent summer quite well, what with a weary start that included 3 defeats in their opening 4 matches. Form has picked up since Fernandes revival of the club's finances and Warnock didn't lose a game throughout September. Their latest outing on Sunday brought them a respectable point at home to a strong Aston Villa side - a Collins own goal in the dying moments of the game saving Warnock's blushes.
Fulham, meanwhile, have little to brag about with regards to form. Martin Jol has yet to pick up a Premier League win with his new club and he will be hoping a mid week win over Danish side Odense in the Europa League will go a long way to boost some dragging confidence in his newly inherited squad. Andy Johnson was particularly sharp in Denmark but doubts still linger over his long term future with a contract renewal still yet to be agreed. As always, though, despite the lackluster start, home performances remain at a premium and QPR will do well to take anything from a ground that is becoming infamous for it's difficulty to extract points from.
Fulham have played QPR a total of 27 times and have only come out superior on 10 occasions, as opposed to QPR who have won 12.
This latest match up, though, has brought around a new question for both Tony Fernandes and Mohammed Al Fayed to ponder, and that is the thought of ground sharing in the near future. Warnock didn't deny that such an event was plausible and both parties seem to think it makes fiscal sense. Whether the fans will agree is another matter.
Bobby Zamora and Moussa Dembele should return for Fulham while Aaron Hughes faces a late fitness test, but Simon Davies remains out. Armand Traore will return for the visitors while Danny Gabbidon will miss the tie.
Predicted Line-Up: Schwarzer; Riise, Hangeland, Senderos, Hughes; Dempsey, Murphy, Sidwell, Duff; Johnson, Zamora
Score Prediction: Fulham 2 - 1 QPR