QUEENS Park Rangers are hoping for festive cheer against Newcastle United tomorrow, riding the crest of a wave after four games undefeated was crowned by a first win of the campaign.
Rangers’ woes have been well-documented, drifting from game to game without so much as a whimper and waiting 17 games to register their first win – Harry Redknapp’s introduction has certainly helped to boost spirits however, with renewed optimism despite QPR’s perilous position.
Newcastle United meanwhile appear to be paying the price of expectation as second season syndrome begins to hit hard at St James’ Park. They currently sit 15th despite the notable Mike Ashley gift of an eight-year contract for Alan Pardew and co.
Pardew himself has taken media hyperbole by the horns and labelled this encounter a ‘must win’ game, rather putting the onus on the home side to dispel their current form and put in an overdue display of note against a side in QPR that ostensibly remain in the bottom three.
QPR 2 (Taarabt 52, 68)
Fulham 1 (Petric 88)
Team: Rob Green, Nedum Onuoha, Armand Traoré, Ryan Nelsen, Clint Hill, Alejandro Faurlín, Stéphane Mbia, Adel Taarabt, Shaun Wright-Phillips (Fabio da Silva 85), Jamie Mackie, Djibril Cissé (Anton Ferdinand 90).
Newcastle1 (Ba 51)
Man City 3 (Aguero 10, Garcia 39, Toure 78)
Team: Tim Krul, Danny Simpson (Shane Ferguson 82), Davide Santon, Mike Williamson, Fabriccio Coloccini, James Perch, Vernon Anita, Jonas Gutierrez, Cheik Tioté (Sylvain Marveaux 74), Pappis Cisse (Shola Ameobi 79), Demba Ba.
Newcastle United Team News:
James Perch is unlikely to feature after picking up a neck injury. Hatem Ben Arfa and Steven Taylor miss out with hamstring complaints. Yohan Cabaye is out with a groin injury. Gabriel Obertan is back following toe surgery.
Possible line up:
Simpson – Williamson – Coloccini – Santon
Anita – Tiote – Marveaux
Ba – Cisse
Player to watch: Demba Ba
Demba Ba has been identified as the player to watch ahead of the match against Newcastle.
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QPR Team News:
Julio Cesar and Jose Bosingwa are both out with back injuries. Ji-Sung Park remains absent with a knee injury. Kieron Dyer is also out.
Possible line up:
Onuoha – Nelsen – Hill -Traore
Mbia – Faurlin
Mackie – Taarabt – Wright-Phillips
Player to watch: Armand Traoré
The marauding left-back is another who has performed better since the arrival of Harry Redknapp. Traore is starting to look like the talented left back we’ve all seen in patches throughout his time here at Loftus Road. Lately, he has been playing consistently well and after the draw against Villa at full time he looked visibly upset, sitting on his own in the centre circle, clearly gutted we hadn’t won.
I’ve not seen that sort of passion from Traore and it was refreshing to see. His pace going forward and superb crossing ability will be key for the Newcastle game should we look to exploit them on the break. Traore has a great engine and gets up and down the pitch with ease. His link up play with the forwards and in particular Adel Taarabt is developing game by game. It appears as if Traore has cut down on the lapses of concentration, which have cost us dear at times and he is becoming a rounded modern day fullback.
The Stat Attack
Queens Park Rangers: LDDDW
Newcastle United: LWLLL
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 16
Newcastle United: 20
LAST TIME OUT
Premier League – 15/01/12
St James’ Park
Newcastle United 1 (Best 37)
Team: Paddy Kenny, Clint Hill, Danny Gabbidon, Luke Young, Anton Ferdinand, Shaun Derry, Ákos Buzsáky (Federico Macheda 76), Shaun Wright-Phillips, Jay Bothroyd, Jamie Mackie, Heidar Helguson (Tommy Smith 65)
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
Assistants: John Flynn (Wiltshire) & Darren England (South Yorkshire)
Fourth Official: Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire)
Kevin Friend is the match official for tomorrow’s away game at Newcastle This season Friend has issued 45 yellow cards and one red card in 13 games.
Both sides find themselves embroiled at the wrong end of the table, at it would be fair to say at the season’s outset that neither would have expected themselves to be placed in close proximity to the trap door.
If Alan Pardew’s pre-match hot air is anything to go by, he will be hoping that his team shares his bullishness and confidence going into the encounter.
Rangers’s revival can still continue, and this will be a fine opporunity to pick up a win against a Newcastle side that is not at top form as yet – nevertheless a point would probably be a good result for Redknapp’s men.
WHO: West Brom
WHERE: Loftus Road