Queens Park Rangers host relegation battlers Stoke City at Loftus road in a match that’s poised to intensify the struggle at the bottom of the table.
Harry Redknapp’s side happens to be one of the best candidates for the Coca- Cola Championship going into this match, with five more games to go, but a game in front of the home crowd comes with a price tag. Botching it will be costly as the Rangers sit second from the bottom of the table with 24 points from 33 games.
QPR, in all fairness, have had a terrible campaign, Bright prospects, based on some terrific acquisitions, got off on a very slow pace under ousted manager, Mark Hughes. There were injury worries which reduced the overall team performance and did likewise for morale. The January acquisitions would have brightened things up bur for one reason or the other didn’t.
Stoke City, their opponents, have not won in seven matches, their best result being a draw at home with West Brom. Manager Tony Pulis is aware of the battle ahead of the clash at Loftus Road and advises his players to start taking their chances as they struggle to keep their heads above water.
“We’ve got to stop giving poor goals away and we’ve got to take our chances,” he said.
The last meeting between QPR- Stoke ended 1- 0. It took an 89th minute goal from French international Djibril Cisse to help the home side gain the required three points on their way to surviving last season’s relegation battle. With everything to play for this time around, QPR will have to play their own part by replicating the same show of sportsmanship and expect the best combination of results. Going down may seem inevitable, how about going down on a knowing you’ve given your best?
Striker Bobby Zamora remains on the bench as he serves the second of his three- match ban for being sent off against Wigan. Shaun Wright- Philips is out after undergoing an ankle surgery, while Andrew Johnson is sidelined with a knee problem. Rangers may have to rely on Jermaine Jenas in the midfield and Loic Remy up- front (both January signings) as they look to display an impressive form in front of the home crowd.
Stoke’s Mathew Etherington remains a doubt after missing last Sunday’s defeat by Manchester United with a back injury. Defender Marc Wilson is hopeful of returning after being on the sideline due to a back/ hamstring injury. Pulis is hopeful ‘one of the two players with niggles’ will be fit. Chris Foy will be at the centre of the pitch dictating play.