Wednesday 1st February 2012 – Kickoff: 1945hrs
Villa Park is the setting for this next fixture which brings together two teams that tumbled out of the FA Cup fourth round in controversial circumstances, as Aston Villa take on relegation-threatened QPR on Wednesday night.
Despite that loss to Arsenal and Van Persie’s infamous elbowing incident, Villa can now turn their attentions to the Premier league and build on their solid form of recent weeks. Just one loss in their last five courtesy of a surprise 0-2 defeat at home to Swansea City, has been the only blip in their last five matches with wins over Chelsea and midlands rivals Wolves (both away from home) along with draws against Stoke City and Everton has consolidated their mid-table position.
Villa’s home form stands at 3-3-5 12/14, and another win at home tonight could see them within touching distance of an unlikely European spot. Irish journeyman and striker Robbie Keane has returned to Blighty and duly scored a double in the recent derby win at Wolves to open his account, while leading scorer is Darren Bent (8 goals, 1 assist), along with Gabriel Agbonlahor (5 goals, 5 assists) will be a constant threat to QPR’s defence.
QPR themselves will be looking to build on their recent home win over Wigan Athletic and put behind them their contentious loss at Chelsea thanks to a dubious penalty decision.
Chelsea scored, The R’s are out, and now they too need to focus on the matter in hand of avoiding relegation and making a swift return to the Championship. Manager Mark Hughes has been brought in and provided some much-needed impetus following the sacking of Neil Warnock.
But let’s not get too carried away; most teams have had a result over Wigan of late and who’s to say that QPR would have won this match anyway, Warnock or no Warnock? The trip to Villa Park will be a more meaningful test for them to see where they benchmark currently in the top flight.
The R’s away record stands at 3-1-7 10/19, and it’s now five matches on the road without a win and just one point at fellow-promotees Swansea City out of a possible fifteen. Five out of their eleven away matches have also ended up with Rangers failing to score, and with plenty of attacking options open to McLeish at Villa, this could again be a disappointing trip for the London side.
Mark Hughes has brought in new signing Nedum Onuoha from Man City and is lining up former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse before the Tuesday deadline but we all know it takes time for new players to gel with their team-mates.
Villa’s form has been solid in recent weeks and they should be too strong at home against a QPR side who do not travel well – Villa to win 2-0 here.
Main Pick: Aston Villa straight win @ 1.85 Ladbrokes
Value Pick: Aston Villa AH-1 @ 2.51 Pinnacle worth considering