22nd February 2013
After the last-gasp goal they conceded at Etihad snatched the league title from Manchester United’s grasp, QPR will attempt to give City a helping hand one more time and make the title chase a bit more interesting. The Red Devils have no reason to fear a team 48 points below them in the league standings, although they might have to work hard for a win at Loftus Road.
While their title rivals were signing players for fun, Sir Alex Ferguson opted to spend the majority of his transfer kitty on Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie, and that soon proved to be a great decision. The Japanese midfielder may have struggled to adapt to life in England, but everybody agrees that Van Persie has given United decisive advantage in the title race. With Fergie expertly deploying rotation policy from the very start to the season, the Red Devils have kept their performances at a very high level and they remain in the race for three major titles. Even if many believe the Premiership title race is already over, Ferguson will want to try and further increase the 12-point advantage before the hectic schedule starts in week’s time. That is why he is expected to revert to his strongest line-up having rested most of the starters in the FA Cup win over Reading, although Wayne Rooney, Darren Fletcher, Phil Jones and Paul Scholes are all unavailable.
It’s been a while now since every next game has become do or die for QPR, so the match against leaders Manchester United will be nothing new for Harry Redknapp’s side. The Rangers may have a special motive, however, having not beaten the Red Devils since 1992, but the hosts obviously need to play a perfect game if they are to end the long wait for a win. That doesn’t look like happening any time soon, seeing that QPR are winless in last five fixtures, with 4-1 defeat at Liberty Stadium hardly a perfect introduction into the all-important match against Manchester United. With Djibril Cisse gone and Loic Remy struggling with a groin problem, Harry Redknapp was delighted to welcome Bobby Zamora back in action, but the problem is the former Fulham striker is not fit enough to start. Jose Bosingwa and Fabio da Silva continue to miss out, whilst Julio Cesar and Junior Hoilett are both doubtful.
QPR have been well below par of late and with a number of important players either missing or doubtful, I just don’t see how they are going to stop in-form United. The Red Devils are very motivated to win at Loftus Road and I expect them to be at least a goal up by half-time.
Verdict: Manchester United to lead at half-time
Best Odds: 23/20