A slightly new-look QPR side failed to beat Norwich in a game of missed chances, missed penalties and misplaced passes
A match full of bobbles, accidental arse-blocks and woeful imprecision, enlivened by the occasional diving save or penalty miss. It wasn't exactly boring, but neither was it very good. QPR did win that penalty, but otherwise did exceptionally little except allow Townsend or Taarabt to shoot from distance, or send countless dead balls towards, but not to, the mountainous Christopher Samba. Norwich produced a fairly incoherent attacking performance, but nevertheless created significantly more chances from open play than did their hosts. From about 10 minutes in it looked likely to end 0-0, and so it finally proved.
According to the stats I'm looking at, Norwich had 46% of the possession, 48.3% of the shots, 56.25% of the shots on target, 44.4% of the corners and 50% of the offsides – all terribly even – but gave away 70.9% of the free-kicks. This gave QPR an aura of superiority that they couldn't back up in open play.
Anyway, for all the criticism it was quite fun to watch. Thanks for joining me. Feel free to switch your attention to Ian McCourt's Clockwatch for the next couple of hours. See you later! Bye!
90+5 min: QPR win a last free-kick, Redknapp orders Samba to go forward, the ball goes to Zamora instead and he heads it out of play for a throw-in. And with that, the referee has seen enough. And who can blame him, really?
90+4 min: Norwich win a free-kick in the centre circle, and take it quickly. Seems strange to me, as I thought they'd want to waste some time. Anyway, they're the clever ones – where they took it from wasn't close enough to where the offence took place, and the referee has to call them back, so they did indeed waste some time.
90+3 min: Martin crosses, Ben Haim pushes Becchio with both hands, the forward goes to ground and … the referee waves play on.
90+2 min: I have just witnessed Tal Ben-Haim sprinting down the right wing and making mincemeat out of the opposing full-back before sending in a dangerous cross. I did not imagine it. It really happened.
90 min: QPR get yet another free-kick, and the fourth official signals that there will be five minutes of second-half stoppages.
87 min: Another debut, this time Norwich bringing Luciano Becchio on for Hoolahan.
87 min: The best shot of the match comes from Bassong, 25-odd yards from goal, and it's heading into the top corner until Bunn turns it wide. From the corner, Clint Hill mistimes his header and the ball goes wide.
85 min: Mackie carries the ball towards Bassong, then pushes the ball to his right and runs to his left, just to make sure he can run into Bassong, earn a free-kick and get the Norwich player booked. Had Bassong suddenly disappeared, he'd have been running in a totally different direction to the ball and looked like a total idiot.
84 min: A tennis-rally of imprecise long-range passes ends with the ball falling to Holt 25 yards out, and his shot being easily saved.
83 min: Townsend crosses from the right, and Zamora at the far post heads just wide. He wants a penalty, and Martin did indeed have a fistful of hoopy shirt, but the referee is unimpressed.
82 min: Mackie makes amends for his role in winning the free-kick by blocking Jenas's ensuing goalbound shot with his arse, allowing Norwich to clear.
81 min: Turner wins a header against Mackie just outside his penalty area, and the referee not only gives QPR a free-kick, he books Turner for good measure. Mystifying.
79 min: Snodgrass's corner goes just over Holt's head at the near post, almost impossibly misses everyone else as well and flies out for a goal kick.
79 min: Snodgrass collects a throw-in on the right wing, turns inside and slams a left-foot shot goalwards that Julio Cesar touches round the post.
76 min: Norwich are doing their very best to lose this game, but QPR just don't have the gumption to take advantage. Any decent side would be 3-0 up by now, but Rangers have barely had a shot on target. Talking of which, Rangers have just had a shot on target. Andros Townsend with it. Straightforward save.
74 min: Clint Hill is being booked, and Fabio is being replaced by Tal Ben-Haim, who thus becomes the 50th player used by QPR in the Premier League since their promotion not very long ago.
71 min: La-la-la-Bassong's clearance flies straight into Bradley Johnson's thigh and back into the penalty area, where Bunn picks the ball up. Mackie claims that it was a deliberate back-pass. The players are definitely trying to be funny.
69 min: Jermaine Jenas comes on for Mbia, making his debut. "Why do people always state that the goalkeeper guessed when right when saving a penalty?" fumes Dave Cook. "You have no idea whether he guessed. You wouldn’t assume that saving any other shot from 12 yards would be the result of a lucky guess. It’s ridiculous, please stop it." No. I'm guessing that he guessed, just as you're guessing that he didn't guess. Your guess is as good as mine, but on this occasion I'm the guesser with a keyboard.
68 min: For the first time a Taarabt free-kick finds Samba. The header was probably going wide, but Holt made absolutely sure.
67 min: A series of attempted tackles by Norwich players which must surely be deliberately comedic end with a booking for Tettey.
64 min: The penalty was QPR's first shot on target. "Hmm, I'm not sure that Adithya (47th minute) is correct that all percentage combinations are equally likely a priori, in most matches one team will be stronger than another, and so will have a greater amount of possession," writes Ben Ellis. "Beyond a certain point the disparity becomes increasingly unlikely (unless you're Celtic in the Camp Nou), but equally absolute parity is I would suggest less likely than one side having a degree of dominance. I have no facts to back it up but would have thought that somewhere around 60:40 was the most frequently observed possession stat. Anyone? Also, I need a life." I agree with Ben.
63 min: Now it's Norwich on the attack, and Johnson's long-range shot is well saved.
63 min: "I completely agree with you that it's classic English football, but somehow just doesn't feel like a Premier League match," writes Matt Dony. "Despite the fact that it's both clubs' second season there, they both have some excellent players, and (as much as I hate it) 'Arry does appear to be turning QPR around, it seems like something's missing. You'd fancy both of them against, say, Villa, but the mystique of the Greatest League In The World just doesn't seem to be with them."
62 min: Taarabt's best shot yet – a 30-yarder with plenty of curve that the keeper can only push away.
60 min: I am finding this game terrifically nostalgic. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Gary Penrice pops up the next time QPR attack. If my son were to come to me and say, "what was football like in the old days, Daddy, before the Premier League?", I'd turn the TV on, make him stand up and give him a partially-obstructed view of this game.
59 min: This one goes high and left, but too high and too left.
58 min: Mackie is fouled by Turner, who should really have been booked but wasn't, at the edge of the penalty area. Another shooting chance for Taarabt.
56 min: Taarabt sends the penalty low to his right, not a terrible effort if not enormously close to the corner, and Bunn guesses right and pushes it away.
56 min: Mackie latches on to Garrido's terrible back-pass, and Bunn catches his trailing leg. Penalty, and a booking for the keeper.
54 min: Great blocks from Derry and Samba stop Holt and then Turner probably-scoring from close range in the space of five seconds, and QPR respond by bringing on Bobby Zamora for Shaun Wright-Phillips.
53 min: Great save from Julio Ceser! Snodgrass crosses, Hoolahan volleys and Cesar flings out his right arm to push the ball to safety.
51 min: Garrido is booked for fairly cynically obstructing Wright-Phillips.
50 min: QPR win yet another free-kick. Like the all the other ones, Taarabt takes it and nothing happens as a result.
49 min: The referee has a stern word with Holt, who is putting himself about a bit too much for his liking. The crowd book the lack of subsequent booking.
47 min: Shaun Wright-Phillips wins the first weak free-kick of the second half, and Taarabt sends it flying across goal, where somehow absolutely nobody manages to touch it before it goes off for a goal-kick. "Regarding your comment about the possession stats, neither does it happen very often that one side has 62.4281% of the possession while the other side has 37.5719% of it. I can't think of any reason 50-50 should be less likely than any other split-up of the possession stats, a priori," writes Adithya. "Also, I need a life."
46 min: The second half has begun.
45+2 min: Two throw-ins, a free-kick and about 0.3 seconds of actual ball-in-play time later, it is the end of half one.
45+1 min: We're now into the first and indeed only minute of stoppage time at the end of half one.
45 min: First-half possession statistics show that each side has enjoyed precisely 50% of it. That doesn't happen very often.
43 min: This is proper English football. Vaguely skilful, emphatically muscleful, full of erratic passing and shooting and desperate clearing headers. This is what I was raised on, this is.
41 min: QPR manage to arrange a free-kick so that it ended with Bradley Johnson marking Samba, which isn't really fair. Taarabt's ball doesn't reach either of them, though.
40 min: Now Turner is being looked after by Norwich's physios, something having made his face bleed.
39 min: Stephane Mbia has been booked for committing lots of little niggly fouls. He's not very happy about it, but to be fair the ref had a word a while back, and that clearly didn't stop him.
37 min: Bennett buys a free-kick by falling down while Fabio was standing nearby, but nothing comes of it. QPR's attempt to break by sending a high-ball 50 yards toward Shaun Wright-Phillips sounds unlikely to succeed, and doesn't.
35 min: Taarabt passes to Wright-Phillips, whose turns beats Garrido and gives him a yard of space, into which he advances before slamming the ball wide of goal.
33 min: Is it only me who thinks of this song whenever they see the Norwich centre-back Bassong? Clearly because "Bassong" sounds like "La long". My head does annoy me sometimes.
31 min: A third of the match played, most of it in high-tempo, fairly clumsy style. Holt heads Garrido's cross vaguely goalwards, and Julio Cesar catches the ball. It's not much of an effort, but it's an effort – the home side are yet to have a shot on target.
29 min: "How much longer is Grant Holt going to get away with his continual and ridiculous diving?" asks Roy Allen. "Suárez? Bale? They have nothing on the big-boned and devious Holt. For many years he has thrived on dives." And it's true that Hold did manage to conjure a free-kick from a humble tumble on the touchline a while back, but I'm not sure he dives any more than anyone else (which is to say, quite a lot).
28 min: Chance for Norwich! Hoolahan crosses from the right, and Snodgrass heads straight at the goalkeeper from nine yards.
25 min: Bennett's first touch takes the ball from Wright-Phillips' toes on the edge of QPR's penalty area, but sadly his second sends a useless cross straight out of play.
24 min: Elliott Bennett comes on, Pilkington's strapping failing to fix his poorly thigh.
23 min: Norwich cross from the left, and Snodgrass heads wide of the near post. That wasn't so much a half chance as a fifth-chance. Perhaps less.
21 min: Pilkington is currently off the pitch, having a large amount of strapping applied to his left thigh.
18 min: Since I wrote that they were having the better of things, Norwich have had the worst of things. Redknapp has clearly got his players motivated, and they're putting themselves about a bit.
17 min: The free-kick is arrowed into the penalty area, where Samba is lurking like a giant threatening muscle-mountain, but finds only the keeper.
16 min: Russell Martin fouls Townsend, but QPR's new signing is enjoying himself so much he refuses to stop at the referee's whistle, pegs it to the byline and gets fouled again. He only wins one free-kick, though.
14 min: Tettey slides in well to dispossess Townsend, but the ball rolls to Taarabt. Tetty slides in again, less impressively this time, giving Taarabt space to size up a pass to Mackie, inside the penalty area, who shoots low across goal. If there had only been one more attacker they could have tapped the ball in as it trundled vaguely near goal. But there wasn't.
12 min: Taarabt's shoot-on-sight policy continues, though his latest effort hit the arse of the nearest defender and set up a Norwich counter-attack.
10 min: Then they lose the ball in midfield and Taarabt surges forwards, dribbles right through Garrido's sliding challenge and then slaps a low shot just wide of the far post.
9 min: Norwich are pinging the ball about, but apart from that Snodgrass cross haven't bothered QPR's penalty area. Still, they've had the better of the opening exchanges.
7 min: Questions have been asked of Samba's match fitness, which I guess will be exposed later. So far he's booted two long balls vaguely towards the attack, and attempted one cultured pass out of defence that went straight to a man in black (not the referee – it's Norwich's away kit).
4 min: TERRIBLE MISS! Snodgrass crosses from the right, and Hoolahan – standing suspiciously offside – reaches the ball first but the onrushing Julio Cesar does enough to put him off and he volleys over the bar.
3 min: Norwich have had the ball pretty much ever since Taarabt's shot. QPR have kicked the ball twice, on both occasions giving it straight back to Norwich.
1 min: The first shot of the day is from Adel Taarabt, 25 yards out. It started out off target and then curled the wrong way.
1 min: The referee blows his whistle, and QPR get the game under way.
Norwich are now mid-huddle. This is about to happen.
Chris Samba stands next to Fabio as the teams line up, making him look even more like a giant than he did already. QPR's new centre-back is nearly a foot taller than their shortest starter, Shaun Wright-Phillips (it's 11 inches officially, but there's a good chance that SWP's height has been inflated to make him feel better about himself).
The teams are in the tunnel. QPR's mascot looks older than some of the players.
The official Press Association teams are, gratifyingly, the same as the ones I got off Twitter, but in case you don't believe me, here they are.
QPR: Julio Cesar, Fabio, Samba, Hill, Traoré, Wright-Phillips, Mbia, Derry, Townsend, Taarabt, Mackie. Subs: Green, Park, Granero, Jenas, Ben Haim, Zamora, Bothroyd.
Norwich: Bunn, Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido, Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson, Pilkington, Hoolahan, Holt. Subs: Camp, Whittaker, Howson, Jackson, Elliott Bennett, Becchio, Barnett.
Referee: Jon Moss.
The Press Association, journalism's great arbiters of truth, are unfathomably late in sending over the teams, but these come from a trusted Twitter source. Norwich are unchanged from the midweek draw with Tottenham; QPR bring in Samba and Townsend, and are missing the injured Loïc Rémy.
QPR: Cesar; Fabio, Samba, Hill, Traoré, Wright-Phillips, Derry, Mbia, Townsend, Taarabt, Mackie. Subs: Green; Park, Granero, Jenas, Ben Haim, Zamora, Bothroyd.
Norwich: Bunn, Martin, Johnson, Bassong, Turner, Snodgrass, Holt, Pilkington, Hoolahan, Garrido, Tettey. Subs: Camp, Whittaker, Howson, Jackson, E Bennett, Becchio, R Bennett.
QPR have been losing at home to the likes of Norwich City all season, but all the while they had excuses: new players were bedding in; Mark Hughes was the manager; Harry Redknapp was now the manager, but with Mark Hughes's players; it was the referee's fault; it was a bit cold out; their mum had washed their lucky underpants. A £22m January net spend has brought in "unbelievable signing" Christopher Samba, who starts today, as well as "half-decent signing" Jermaine Jenas (who's on the bench) and "largely unnoticed" Andros Townsend (who starts), and now they're back with excuse No1, players bedding in. It won't wash any more, mind. Victory is imperative.
Is there hope for QPR? Sure: they're unbeaten in the league this year (three draws and a win), and the fixture list has been kind: six of the next eight games are against teams in the bottom half of the table; they're 20th in the league but their 14 remaining fixtures include matches against Nos 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 12, 11 and 10, but only one of the top four. This offers encouragement, but should they falter at home against a team with five defeats and no wins in seven league games, chins may swiftly start to drop. Their last two home league games have involved parking the bus against Tottenham and Manchester City, and clinging on to goalless draws. This approach won't wash against Norwich, and the last time they went into a match at Loftus Road as favourites they lost 4-2 at home to MK Dons.
Norwich, whose big January signing Luciano Becchio – the latest arrival from feeder club Leeds United, but clearly second choice for a club that was desperate to sign Celtic's Gary Hooper – starts on the bench, might just benefit from the fact that everyone's focusing on the other guys.