What a terrible, terrible year 2012 has been for both Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool.
Yes, you can argue that QPR survived their first season back as a Premier League club (even if it was by the skin of their teeth on the final day) and that Liverpool won one of the three trophies available to them – the Carling Cup – in February, reaching the final of the FA Cup in May to boot.
But really, the Premier League is the be all and end all of football domestically and there are not two sides that have underachieved over the course of the calendar year like Rangers and the Reds.
If we take the Rs first, optimism abounded in the wake of their last-gasp escape from the drop and with Tony Fernandes supporting Mark Hughes with a considerable war chest over the summer, there was every expectation that Rangers would go from strength to strength and solidify their position as a mid-table Premier League club.
What has happened next has been a disaster. Hughes blew all the cash at his disposal with a string of horrendous purchases (as he had when taking over in January, incidentally), signing has-beens and never-wheres with no idea how they would fit into a system of play on huge wages that will, in the event of relegation, cripple the club for some time to come.
And relegation looks to be where they heading after just one win – one solitary win – in the league this season leaves them going into the last match of the year bottom of the table on goal difference. Harry Redknapp has been brought in to save the day, but he could be looking at a situation more akin to his Southampton experience, where he relegated the south coast club (I know that has been airbrushed from history, but he really did you know) after taking over mid-season in 2004/05.
As for Liverpool, where do you start? Cup success aside, this has been as grim a year as can be remembered for a club that once competed for top honours at home and abroad.
Poor league form saw for Kenny Dalglish in the summer, but things are hardly going great under his successor either, and the stats make woeful reading. We could discuss the terrible transfer policy, the stadium issue, the ownership situation – do FSG really know what they are doing? – but the truth is that over 38 league games played in 2012, Liverpool have won just 43 points, which is not far off bottom six fodder over the course of a full season. And to think it was Bill Shankly who first said that ‘second was nowhere’.
For all the talk of things progressing under Rodgers, the signs have been too intermittent and the ex-Swansea boss actually has the exact same record after 19 games as the much maligned Roy Hodgson, who was sacked just after his 20th.
There is no danger of that happening to Rodgers at the minute, but the fact the Reds are yet to beat a team currently in the top half is a damming one and many more performances like the 3-1 defeat at Stoke on Boxing Day and he might not see out his ‘journey’. And if you are planning to back Liverpool to win at Loftus Road at 87/100 then you really have no place having a betting account because you clearly don’t understand the fundamentals of gambling on football.
But even at 29/10, are you going to get on QPR, a team with one win in 19 games? I don’t want to do that either. The draw is 13/5, which by process of elimination would be the bet in the 3waymarket, but I think the way to play is both teams to score at 3/4, which looks nailed on.
Neither side can defend, and when that is the case goals are always likely. QPR have played nine league games at Loftus Road and in seven both sides have found the net, and the statistic is the same for Liverpool on the road.
Rangers have kept just two clean sheets all season and are bound to struggle against Luis Suarez, while Liverpool have somehow contrived to concede eight goals against West Ham, Aston Villa and Stoke either side of a win over Fulham.
That takes some doing, and with both sides underperforming I see goals at both ends and that 3/4 looks like a certainty to me.