Tonight's match at Loftus Road sees QPR host a West Ham side flying high on their return to the top flight. Big-spending Rangers, who are currently bottom of the Premier League, will desparate to get three points on the board, but question marks remain over Mark Hughes' ability to pick a balanced side from his expansive squad.
QPR continue to be hampered by a defensive injury crisis; full-backs Armand Traore, Fabio and Jose Bosingwa all look set to miss out tonight, while Anton Ferdinand is struggling with a hamstring problem. Ryan Nelsen is likely to continue in the heart of the Rangers defence, with midfielder Stephane Mbia also slotting into the back four. Further forward, Alejandro Faurlin is expected to play despite a knock sustained in midweek and Adel Taarabt could also be in contention. Djibril Cisse, who scored in the League Cup defeat to Reading, is pushing for a starting spot alongside Bobby Zamora.
Aside from long-term absentees Andy Carroll and Jack Collison, Sam Allardyce has no new injury concerns ahead of tonight's game. Modibo Maiga staked his claim to start the match with a goal in midweek, while Yossi Benayoun will also be hoping to make his first start since returning to Upton Park.
Both sides suffered home losses in the Capital One Cup this week: QPR went down to Reading and the Hammers were humbled by Wigan. Mark Hughes' side has picked up just two points from five league games, although one of those came via a creditable draw against Chelsea. West Ham have fared better, picking up two wins and three clean sheets so far. With Sam Allardyce continuing to prove his ability to mount solid sides, the visitors will feel confident of getting at least a point this evening.
These sides haven't met since 2004, when each side won at home in the Championship. Rangers have beaten West Ham on their last three games at Loftus Road, although with two of those games taking place in the 90s, punters should probably look elsewhere for relevant stats.
Bobby Zamora is the main man in the QPR attack; he has three goals to his name this season. With a support cast of tricksters and speedsters (Taarabt, Junior Hoilett, Shaun Wright-Phillips), he looks a decent bet to open the scoring at 6.75. For the visitors, the picture is less clear. With focal point Carlton Cole failing to offer much of a threat, midfielders offer the best value. Kevin Nolan is a tempting 4.30 to net anytime, while Yossi Benayoun might be worth a look to score the last goal (12.00) should he start on the bench.
While QPR will be highly motivated in front of a partisan home crowd, it's difficult to overlook the fact that West Ham are in better form. Given that the Hammers would likely take a point, though, the smart money would seem to be on the draw at 3.30. The HT/FT market also provides some value, with West Ham/Draw at a generous 15.00. The visitors should start on the front foot, but QPR could peg them back after the break.
QPR 1-1 West Ham (6.50)