QPR’s hopes of top-flight survival were given a major boost last Saturday as they saw off fellow relegation battlers Southampton 2-1 on their travels, reducing the gap between themselves and safety to four points with ten league matches remaining.
It was a result that was made even better for the west London club given the fact that the five sides that sit directly above them, the Saints being one, all found themselves on the end of a defeat to round off a perfect birthday weekend for Harry Redknapp.
Loic Remy opened proceedings for the Hoops on the south coast with a classy finish and the former Marseille forward is vital to his side’s chances of retaining their Premier League status, providing he can stay fit from now until the end of the season.
Goals have been hard to come by for the Rs this term, which is a big factor in their current predicament that sees them clinging on at the bottom, but in Remy they possess one of European football’s top strikers, who has the ability to unlock any defence on his day.
Redknapp was a big admirer of the French international during his time as Tottenham boss and finally managed to bag his man in January, and with Bobby Zamora plagued by injury, Remy really is likely to be the difference between safety and the drop.
The importance of ensuring Premier League football next term was further underlined today by news that QPR’s debts now stand at £89 million, so the major outlay on new players in January feels like a gamble they cannot afford to lose.
Rangers have a run of four games in which they’ll be eying maximum points in each, the first being the visit of Martin O’Neill’s struggling Sunderland side – who are looking over their shoulder – to Loftus Road on Saturday afternoon.
The two sides played out a 0-0 draw when they met at the Stadium of Light in Redknapp’s first game in charge back in November, ending a run of five successive defeats for the west London club against their north-east opponents.
The Black Cats sit just six points above the drop zone, without a win in their last five league outings, and had to come from two goals down at home last weekend against Fulham to rescue a 2-2 draw – the latest setback in what has been a disappointing season for the club.
It’s the Rs who have been priced as favourites to secure successive league wins for the first time since their promotion back to the Premier League at 5/4, with the draw at 11/5, while just a fourth win on their travels for O’Neill’s men is priced at 11/5.
In the goalscoring market, Remy is the favourite to repeat his feat of last weekend and score the first goal of the game at 5/1 and he is 7/4 to score at any time, both of which are worth considering when taking into account the fact that Rangers will be set up to attack their visitors.
Sunderland certainly possess a talented attack, with the likes of Steven Fletcher, Stephane Sessegnon and Adam Johnson leading the charge, and given Rangers have recorded just six clean sheets this term, both teams to score at 3/4 could prove fruitful.
With both sides desperate for a win, particularly in the case of the Rs, expect an open match that isn’t likely to be shy of goals, with seven of the last eight meetings between the duo involving three or more strikes.
But Rangers look to offer the value this weekend given they will be heading into this game in high spirits and with nothing to lose by going all-out attack, and a home win with over 2.5 goals in the game at 11/4 is where the money should go.