Competition: Premier League – Queens Park Rangers vs Arsenal
Venue: Loftus Road – Wednesday, March 4th – 19:45 GMT (14:45 ET)
Match Odds: QPR 9/2 – Draw 100/30 – Arsenal 8/15
QPR are currently 18th and positioned ominously in the relegation zone. However, they do have two games in hand over 17th placed Aston Villa and one game in hand over 19th placed Burnley as the battle for survival intensifies.
Arsenal recovered from last week’s devastating Champions League knockout round first-leg defeat at home to Monaco with a hard fought 2-0 win over Everton on Sunday as they look to keep on track for a top-four finish.
Stand-in managerial team Chris Ramsey and Kevin Bond inspired QPR to an impressive 2-0 away win at Sunderland three weeks ago, but that’s the club’s only win in their last nine Premier League games (D2, L6). They also haven’t recorded a victory over any team in the top 12 this season.
The Hoops will be looking to take inspiration from their relatively good home form though, as 19 out of their 22 points have come when playing at Loftus Road.
Arsenal have been in good Premier League form with nine wins from their last 12 games, which has lifted them up to third place and the Gunners are now just four points behind Manchester City.
However, it’s still very tight and the chasing pack will be ready to pounce on any slip-ups with just seven points separating Arsene Wenger’s side and seventh-placed Tottenham who also have a game in hand.
Goals from Alexis Sanchez and Tomas Rosicky helped Arsenal to a 2-1 win over QPR in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day, with Charlie Austin’s late penalty setting up a nervy finish, but the Gunners held on.
Loftus Road is one of the smaller pitches in the Premier League and QPR will try and make life difficult for Arsenal with a tight, compact performance, as they did back in March 2012 when a Samba Diakite strike helped them beat the Gunners 2-1.
QPR will be without skipper Joey Barton who is serving a three-match ban following his red card at Hull. Leroy Fer (knee), Richard Dunne (knee), and Alejandro Faurlin (knee) will all miss out through injury. Nedum Onuoha, Mauricio Isla, Niko Kranjcar and Sandro could return to the squad following injuries.
Arsenal are still without the injured Mikel Arteta (ankle), Mathieu Debuchy (shoulder), Abou Diaby (calf), Mathieu Flamini (hamstring) and Jack Wilshere (ankle). Midfielder Aaron Ramsey will return to the squad following injury. Francis Coquelin took a knock to the face against Everton at the weekend and will be checked over by medical staff but will need to wear a protective face mask should he play.
QPR’s last five in the Premier League: L/L/L/W/L
Arsenal’s last five in the Premier League: W/L/W/W/W
Key Stat: The last five Premier League games between QPR and Arsenal have finished 1-0 or 2-1 to either side, so we can expect a tight encounter.
Key Player: Charlie Austin – The Englishman has notched 14 goals this season and QPR will need their free-scoring striker to be at his absolute best if they’re to get anything from the game. He can cause problems for any defence on his day so Arsenal will have to be wary of the threat Austin poses.
QPR 1-2 Arsenal – This may not be a free-flowing classic and Arsenal may have to grind out a result against a QPR side fighting for their lives.