Queens Park Rangers vs Arsenal
May 4, 2013 at 5.30pm (UK)
3 games left in the season which will determine Arsenal’s fate as to whether they qualify to the Champions league or not. Although they have been undefeated in the final run towards the season finale, a couple of draws in between have again induced a touch of nervousness amidst players and fans. Arsenal need to win all the three of their remaining games to ensure their top 4 status, which they should do having to play against 3 of the worst teams in the league. While they are at it, their rivals to the Champions league qualification, Chelsea and Spurs have a match between themselves, which will be a season defining game for all the three clubs.
QPR meanwhile, bid adieu to their premier league campaign last weekend after a 0-0 draw against Reading saw both the clubs relegated to the Championships. QPR despite having a wage bill higher than Champions League Finalists Borussia Dortmund has had a torrid season and the Winter investments from the club owners have been far from fruitful. Rangers have managed to win just two of their last 17 home games this season and playing for pride there is nothing much to expect from the home side tonight.
This cannot get much tighter. Arsenal who have played an additional game than Chelsea and Tottenham, stand right in between them with just 3 points separating the teams. With Chelsea having a tough one against United, victories for Arsenal and Spurs could mean a shift in the positions until the midweek clash between Chelsea and Spurs. There are quite a number of permutations and combinations involved here, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, coming back to today’s game, here are the injury news and the likely line-ups.
Long term absentees Shaun Wright-Phillips with an ankle trouble and Andrew Johnson with a knee problem will miss the remainder of the season, both having undergone surgeries and defender Samba can make it to the team if he passes fitness tests today. Other than that, a welcome news for the home fans is the return of striker Bobby Zamora from suspension.
With Giroud’s suspension, it is expected that Podoski will continue to keep his place and start as a striker with Cazorla and Walcott playing wider. Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski (rib) remains sidelined, while midfielder Abou Diaby (knee) is a long-term absentee. The rest of the squad remains intact and it is up to Wenger to decide whether or not he uses the likes of Gervinho, Alex-Ox and Rosicky at the starting XI as it is still an important game to pick up all the three points.
Another important decision that the manager has to make is his selection of full backs. Bacary Sagna who had a terrible game against United should be benched to give the ever improving Jenkinson another go in the league. Also Monreal who has hardly has a bad game since joining the Gunners this winter deserves some game time.
Possible starting lineups
QPR: Green; Onuoha, Hill, Bosingwa, Traore; Granero, Jenas, M’bia, Taarabt; Remy, Bothroyd
Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky; Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski
Arsenal have scored exactly one goal in seven of their last eight Barclays Premier League meetings with Queens Park Rangers.
The Gunners have never won at Loftus Road in the Premier League era (D3 L2). They have played more away games against QPR without a win than any other side in the history of the competition.
Overall, only against Manchester United (26%) do the Gunners have a lower Premier League win rate than they do against the R’s (27%).
Arsenal had 22 shots (including blocked shots) in the reverse meeting with QPR, but only found the net once; in the 84th minute.
Only Manchester United (2.09) have a better points per game average in May than QPR (1.83) in Premier League history.
QPR are the only team in the Premier League this season yet to win a point with a goal in the final 10 minutes.
QPR have now gone 275 minutes (four hours and 35 minutes) without scoring in the Premier League.
Prediction: 1-3 to Arsenal.