QPR v Arsenal
A London derby between two sides who require the points for very different reasons; QPR are bidding for survival whilst Arsenal are bidding to finish third and secure a Champions League sport.
Mark Hughes’ arrival was heralded as a masterstroke by many in the media and the majority of the Rangers’ support but it’s not brought the instant turnaround of fortunes that they had hoped for. They still remain in the bottom three, a point behind Bolton, and have had several problems with indiscipline which has not only hindered them during that game, but leaves them without important players for several games in the future. Last weekend’s 3-1 loss away to Sunderland saw Djibril Cisse sent off for the second time since joining in January which means he misses four games – starting tomorrow. QPR have lost the third most amount of games of all the sides in the Premier Division and they have to become harder to beat if they wish to survive. At home they have won just once from eight games. That win was, of course, the astonishing comeback against Liverpool from 2-0 down, if Hughes could replicate the last 20 minutes from that match and bottle it, relegation wouldn’t even be an issue. Unfortunately for him and all associated with QPR, their inconsistency has blighter their return to the top flight.
Arsenal are flying high at the moment with seven straight wins in the Premier League, and eight in all competitions. Their tremendous run has saw them shoot up the table into third spot, taking over from their arch rivals Spurs who have occupied the spot for the majority of the season. Arsene Wenger has had to contend with a lot of criticism from all quarters this season, including his own fans and even some of his old players. He has stuck to his guns however and looks to be having the last laugh at the moment. Critics may still point to the fact that it’s going to be yet another trophyless season for the Gunners, which it will be of course, and that they players are only now performing because of a reduction in both pressure and expectation. Whatever it is, Arsenal look strong at the moment and there is a confidence amongst the players which hasn’t been there for a while, as well as a winning mentality.
QPR’s have a decent record against Arsenal at Loftus Road with two draws and a victory from their last three meetings, the latest of which occurred 16 years ago. It’s been a long time coming but the fans will be anticipating a spirited performance from their team tomorrow.
Arsenal have been notorious in the past for being weak away from home and failing to compete when the going gets tough but recent evidenced suggests that they are stronger mentally. Two wins on Merseyside in recent weeks have gone someway to dispelling that as they had to grind out both wins despite not playing at their best.
Arsenal will be many people’s picks to go on and collect three points, making it eight league wins in a row. I wouldn’t put anyone off such a bet but the price looks short enough in a derby match. Instead there is decent enough value in over two goals as both sides need the points and the two managers like to go forward.
My Selection: Over 2.5 goals
Best odds available: 8/11 available with Coral