Both managers at Villa Park tomorrow have expressed their belief mid-week that they can lead their team away from relegation; one has a little more to do than the other. Redknapp’s QPR have impressed in the past two weeks however, securing wins against Sunderland and Southampton, with January signings Jermaine Jenas, Loic Remy and Andros Townsend making a significant impact. Lambert’s Aston Villa also secured a valuable three points against relegation rivals Reading last week, followed by the controversial dismissal of Reading manager Brian McDermott.
Christian Benteke has been key to Villa’s lineup this season, with twelve goals, four of which have come in the last five games. Keeping him quiet may prove a difficult task for a QPR defence that has conceded 8 in the last 4 games. Villa’s back four, 18 in the league for goals against, will have to be wary of new threats Townsend and Remy, who have been especially impressive in QPR’s last two games.
With four points separating the sides, this game could be pivotal for the survival of both. If QPR win, they could go to within one point of leaving the relegation zone, providing Reading lose to Manchester United and Wigan lose to Newcastle. But if Villa win, 7 points will separate the two sides, and QPR’s mountain will seem that much steeper, while Villa may earn themselves room to breathe.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 3pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS…
QPR 1 (Mackie) Aston Villa 1 (Holman), Premier League, December 2012
Aston Villa 2 (Bent, N’Zogbia) QPR 2 (Cisse, Warnock og), Premier League, February 2012
QPR 1(Dunne) Aston Villa 1 (Bannan), Premier League, September 2011
Villa’s Matthew Lowton is tied with Craig Gardner for the most yellow cards this season, on a total of nine – an average of nearly one every three games.
Villa have the most yellow cards of any side this season, with 62.
Villa have only won one home league game since November.
QPR are bottom of the league for goals scored, with only 24 goals from 29 matches.
Of the bottom five, QPR have the lowest number of goals scored against them this season.
QPR has the lowest shot-to-goal percentage in the Premier League (12.77%)
Aston Villa to win: 1.25
QPR to win: 2.40
TV: Highlights on BBC1 at 10.30pm