Saturday’s big match at Loftus Road could decide the fate of both the home and away clubs for next season, with both teams in desperate need of three points for completely different reasons.
The visitors to West London are Tottenham Hotspur, who arrive on the back of a dreadful run of form and were convincingly dumped out of the FA Cup at the Semi-Final stage last week. On the same weekend, Queens Park Rangers were beaten by a one goal margin away to West Bromwich Albion.
This week, QPR welcome back French international Djibril Cisse and Heider Helgusson could also return to the starting line-up, following a three-month break with injury.
Despite both teams being beaten by last weekend, the results didn’t tell the whole story. QPR had chances to score, with the main culprit being the January signing, Bobby Zamora. What is worrying for QPR is their away form and lack of ability to put the ball in the back of the net.
But this game is back at Loftus Road and in their past four home games they are unbeaten – winning three of them, including victories against Liverpool and Arsenal. In fact, against Liverpool they were 2-0 down until the 77th minute, before showing the character that Mark Hughes has instilled in the team.
Looking to North London, Harry Redknapp’s men have struggled throughout the past couple of months. At one point ‘Arry was telling the media he wanted to be the top club in London – now they’re struggling to keep hold of the a Champions League spot with Newcastle and Chelsea breathing down their necks.
In fairness, Spurs did look the better team and most likely to score at Wembley when it was 0-0 but once the first goal went in they folded like a pack of cards.
Amazingly, the last time Spurs won an away game in the league was the 27th of December, although they did beat Watford in the FA Cup despite an unconvincing display in January. So for me, I cannot back Tottenham at the current price of 1.95. It just doesn’t represent value for a team that has only won one league game since 11th February.
I expect Hughes to set out his side to frustrate the opposition and grab goals on the break and ruffle a few feathers in the middle of the park. Bale and Modric will be closely marked if selected, and Kyle Walker and Benoît Assou-Ekotto will be targeted, with plenty of long balls behind them to expose the space available.
Jamie Mackie, in particular has been a standout player for QPR in recent months and I think he looks decent value for a first and goalscorer bet at 11.00. He is currently playing with confidence and has an eye for goal, highlighted by his last minute winner against Liverpool.
Joey Barton was recently in the headlines (again) after he was rested for the clash with Manchester United due to his disciplinary record and he has publicly stated his most difficult opponent last year was Modric. Therefore, I think he looks value to get booked at 2.70.
Frustration could boil over for both teams, with QPR fighting against relegation and Spurs gunning to stay in the Champions League places, so a sending off could be on the cards. A sending off at 3.50 is a good bet. Could Cisse complete an unwanted hat-trick of dismissals, after receiving two needless red cards since his arrival in January?
Defeat could signal the end of QPR’s stay in the Premier League, but I fancy them to beat Tottenham Hotspur.
Prediction: QPR to win 2-0.
Best Bets: Joey Barton yellow card at 2.70 and Jamie Mackie to be first or last goalscorer at 11.00