Newcastle take on Queens Park Rangers in what can most definitely be described as a “six pointer” at St James’ Park tomorrow afternoon.
Performances by Newcastle have improved in recent weeks even if results have been missing, but the same could be said for Harry Redknapp’s QPR outfit who are unbeaten in four Premier League games and finally won a match at the 17th attempt last weekend.
It will be a game full of nerves but it’s a game Newcastle simply have to win when you look at their other two fixtures over the festive period. With trips to Manchester United and Arsenal following this game the need for three points couldn’t be greater as United tread water dangerously above the drop zone.
Hatem Ben Arfa is unavailable, as are Yohan Cabaye and Steven Taylor with injuries that affect our starting side. Dan Gosling, Ryan Taylor and Haris Vuckic are out although I feel that injuries to those just weaken the squad generally and not the starting XI.
James Perch is a doubt with a neck injury although Gabriel Obertan has resumed training finally and could be recalled to the bench. Mike Williamson, Jonas Gutierrez and Cheik Tiote are all one yellow card away from an automatic one match suspension.
Harry Redknapp will be without goalkeeper Julio Cesar and right-back Jose Bosingwa who both miss out with back injuries. Longer term absentees include Kieron Dyer (surprisingly!), Park Ji-Sung, Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora, although the latter is said to be edging closer towards a return and wants to be back in action in January.
It’s 19 years since QPR managed to take all three points away from Tyneside owing to a 2-1 victory back in October 1993. There have been just four home meetings since then with Newcastle coming out on top in three of them and the other ending in a 1-1 draw during our Championship campaign.
Overall the two clubs have a similar record. There have been 44 meetings between the two clubs in all competitions with United just shading it with 20 victories compared to QPR’s 16 victories.
You can’t get away from a match preview with QPR and fail to mention the highest scoring game ever between the two sides. Taken from a time when men were men and shorts were, well, short (22nd September 1984), this match saw the two sides play out a 5-5 draw on the plastic pitch that used to be a feature of Loftus Road.
Stats and facts:
This will be the sixth different side Harry Redknapp has managed at St James’ Park (Bournemouth, West Ham, Portsmouth, Southampton, Portsmouth again, Tottenham and now QPR) but he is yet to take all three points away from SJP on his first visit with a new club.
QPR have not won back-to-back Premier League games since December 1995.
Only five players have scored for United in the Premier League this season (Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse, Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye and Gael Bigirimana) – the fewest amount of goalscorers in the league.
United’s December match loss total now stands at 42 games lost in this month since the Premier League began – the highest in the history of the Premier League.
In a way I’m quite glad that QPR managed to beat Fulham last week. My thinking is that if there is some crazy losing streak to be ended or a dry spell for a striker to be brought to an end you can bet your mortgage on it being against us so at least we have that particular monkey of our backs.
Redknapp is a man motivator so you can bet that his side will be up for this match and Newcastle will have to match that if they want to take the three points in this game. Fortunately performances at least have been improving even if results have still been wanting, but the same can be said for QPR who will need to turn their habit of picking up draws into a habit of winning if they want to breath comfortably towards the end of the season.
Which way will it go?
Howay the lads!
Date: Saturday, 22nd December, 2012
Venue: St James’ Park