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Premier League preview: Southampton v Queens Park Rangers

Southampton will look to build on an improved home record in 2013 when they host bottom-placed QPR on Saturday.

Southampton will look to build on an improved home record in 2013 when they host bottom-placed QPR on Saturday.

The English Premier League clash at St Mary’s pits the 16th-placed Southampton – who are three points above the relegation zone – against a struggling QPR outfit who are winless in six.

Southampton won just three of 10 Premier League fixtures at home last year, leaving them perilously close to the bottom three.

But home draws against Arsenal and Everton in 2013 were followed by a memorable 3-1 win over reigning champions Manchester City, a result that has boosted the confidence of the entire club.

Southampton played well despite losing 4-2 to Newcastle United on Sunday and new manager Mauricio Pochettino says it is ‘obvious’ his team will avoid relegation.

“It is obvious that we will stay in the Premiership. I have the same worry as all the teams that are in that part of the table but it’s neither more or less, it’s the same,” Pochettino told the media in the wake of the defeat.

“I do have confidence in my team. We played a very good second half where we deserved to win the match but the small details made it that we left St James’ (Park) with empty hands.”

Southampton are having no problems scoring goals, netting at least once in nine of their last 10 Premier League matches.

They have 38 as a team during the current campaign – no team in the bottom half has more – and English forward Rickie Lambert has been key to that, netting 12 strikes this season.

That record is in stark contrast to QPR’s, with the cellar-dwellers having scored just 19 times in 27 matches this season.

Despite a raft of big names and big earners at the club, they are yet to show the fighting spirit that could save them from the drop.

Already six points adrift of second-last Reading, QPR need to turn their form around quickly.

They have won just two league games this season and lost the reverse fixture 3-1 at Loftus Road in November.

Attackers Loic Remy (groin) and Junior Hoilett (hamstring), and goalkeeper Julio Cesar (groin) returned from injury in Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat to Manchester United while Fabio (hip) is expected to play on Saturday.

Jose Bosingwa (back) and Andy Johnson (knee) are longer-term casualties for QPR while Southampton will be sweating on the fitness of forward Guly do Prado (knee).

Thu 28 February, 2013
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