Queens Park Rangers claimed their first league victory in over 30 years against Chelsea, in a West London derby that failed largely to live up to expectations.
A 41,634-strong crowd saw Shaun Wright-Phillips clinch the winner 13 minutes from time, as Chelsea had a reality check after a good period of form. As for QPR, a morale-boosting three points meant their fans went home feeling smug at getting one over their neighbours.
It was not the scoreline many had predicted. There appeared to have been only one outcome when free-scoring Chelsea, who boasted 8-0 and 5-1 victories at the end of last year, and bottom-of-the-table Rangers met.
But, granted, though Chelsea’s players are far superior to that of QPR’s, Rafael Benitez perhaps underestimated the passion of the Super Hoops whenever these sides meet.
The European Champions have lost just once in nine home games in the Premier League this season. They have won five of their 11 league meetings against QPR.
But humiliation was just around the corner. The Rs, in fact, have never scored more than a single goal against their London rivals, but that was all it took to shred Chelsea’s half-hearted league aspirations.
There was no Frank Lampard heroics this time. The man who scored the winner last time has been a lucky charm for his side, with the Blues winning ten of the 11 Premier League games Lampard has featured in this season, winning only 1 of their 8 games without him.
But reliance cannot come from a midfield player. Moses and Marin entered the frame with Hazard and Mata taking a break, whilst the hapless Torres continued at the lone man.
And after another lethargic showing, Demba Ba cannot come soon enough. Alan Pardew admitted earlier this evening (Wednesday) that “it’s done… he will go to Chelsea with our blessing.” And Chelsea will need some of his goal-scoring form — 13 already this campaign — if Chelsea are to catch up on the Manchester duo.
QPR have drawn three and lost seven of their 10 away games this season, conceding 17 and only scoring eight in the process, but their uphill task could have been given a massive boost had Marko Marin been shown a red card early on.
The German winger was keen to prove a point in his first Premier League start, but was perhaps a little too eager going into a challenge with Stephane Mbia.
Oscar did his best to liven up the dull game midway through the first half, but his shot went over, before Marin tried to get in on the act himself.
The two were linking up well for Chelsea’s next chance, which was blocked by the head of Clint Hill.
Victor Moses fired over for Chelsea before the interval, but it was straight after that he should have given Chelsea the breakthrough.
Marko Marin waltzed his way past QPR defenders and all his squared pass needed was a Moses connection, but the Nigerian let the chance slip.
The tempo increased as Lampard tried his luck, only to be charged down by a resilient Rangers defence.
Set-pieces were Chelsea’s next best chance at penetrating the visitors’ back-line, but Ivanovic failed to make full use from a corner whipping in.
Torres was also denied by Julio Cesar, but when the ball did find the back of the net, Frank Lampard’s effort was chalked off for offside.
You could sense it would be one of those nights, and as Chelsea pressed, the more QPR slowly got back into the game.
And they took a foothold of it from a former Chelsea man. Wright-Phillips banged it in the onion bag from 20 yards, to record his first league goal since May 2010.
To his credit, the winger refused to celebrate, in respect of the Club he spend earlier years at.
Hopes of three points turned into a desperate bid to just salvage one and some pride, but hopeful shots from David Luiz was the best Chelsea would get, as they start 2013 with one to forget.