Queens Park Rangers ready themselves to kick-start their Premiership survival efforts after a lengthy break, as their match against Spurs was postponed due to the North London club’s involvement in the Capital One Cup. They are above the relegation zone only due to a superior goal difference but they still do have a game in hand over their Premier League rivals. It would be a tough task but they are next home to in-form Arsenal.
QPR against Arsenal is one of the lesser known London derbies. Even so, it is always contested at high energy levels. Charlie Austin is QPR’s leading scorer this season with 14 to his name and he believes that his team can better their North London rivals. “We’re raring to go. We have two big games at home coming up. Hopefully we can continue our home form.” said the Englishman.
QPR have faced successive defeats at home at the hands of Manchester United and Southampton and they have yet another Champions League hopeful team visiting them in the form of Arsenal. The games are coming thick and fast for the West London club and it’ll take all they have to sustain themselves. Their home form is a mild consolation and they can rely on their passionate home support to lift them.
Arsenal, on the other hand, are soaring high on confidence in the Premier League as they sit just four points off defending champions Manchester City in third place. They travel to Loftus Road looking to do the double over their West London rivals, as they won the home fixture 2-1 on Boxing Day, and they are handed a boost in the fact that Aaron Ramsey has returned to match fitness. The former Welsh captain has been absent from the last four matches in all competitions for Arsenal following a recurrence of his hamstring injury. Francis Coquelin is also expected to play a role in the match although he’d most probably be wearing a protective face mask after his facial injury during their match against Everton on Sunday.
Rangers have won only one of their last seven Premier League matches against Arsenal. Arsenal on the other hand haven’t had two back-to-back away victories this season. All five away victories have been followed by defeats and they’d be looking to avoid a repetition of that record since they won their last away match against Crystal Palace.
Former Spurs midfielder Sandro is available, if Chris Ramsey feels he’s needed, after the Brazilian recovered from a knee injury. Nedum Onuoha (hamstring) and Mauricio Isla (knee) are still unavailable. Captain Joey Barton begins his three match suspension after receiving a red card in their previous match against Hull City. Adding these names to the long term absentees Leroy Fer, Richard Dunne and Faurlin means the West London club might struggle to take the game to Arsenal. Kevin Friend will officiate in this match.
Arsenal will be expected to win this game and build some momentum into their upcoming FA Cup tie against Manchester United on Monday. QPR on the other hand cannot afford to drop points, despite having some tough fixtures coming their way, if they want to remain in the Premier League.