The introduction of Harry Redknapp has failed to have the desired effect Chairman Tony Fernandes would have hoped for. QPR go in to the busy Christmas period still searching for their first win of the season and lie a massive 7 points off safety. However the side are improving. An impressive draw away at Sunderland was followed up by a draw at home to fellow relegation candidates Aston Villa. A striker will be the main the priority though on Redknapp’s inevitable January wish list after missing a bagful of chances against Vila. Failure to collect three points will make QPR’s aim to stay in this division a near impossible one.
Roberto Martinez will be happy with the season so far as Wigan lie in 16th position 2 points clear of the drop zone. Despite their inconsistency, they have defied their normal starts to a season with an away win at Tottenham being the highlight so far. But with six points from their last 18 Martinez will be looking to exploit a QPR side lacking confidence. Three points on Saturday for Wigan will give them massive belief that yet again they can defy their critics and seal a 9th consecutive season in the Premier League.
In the same fixture last season Franco Di Santo was the star of the show. Two excellent goals by the Argentine sealed a 2-0 victory which gave Wigan their first win and a third successive defeat for QPR.
Rob Green is expected to continue in goal in place of injured Julio Cesar. Despite being stretchered off against Aston Villa Stephane M’Bia will be available for selection.
Wigan will be missing defenders Gary Caldwell and Maynor Figueroa due to suspension. But Alcaraz, Crusat, Miyaichi and Shaun Maloney all come back in to contention after injury.
Ones to watch
Republic of Ireland international James McCarthy has been an ever present and key figure in Martinez’s midfield this season. The 22 year old joined Wigan in July 2009 and his performances ever since have led him to be linked with Arsenal and Liverpool. He fits perfectly in to Martinez’s passing game as his passing accuracy of 89% shows why he has started every league game this season. With being disposed only 12 times so far Martinez can trust James to get on the ball and make things happen for his side.
Scotland international Jamie Mackie has started both games under Harry Redknapp and I expect that to continue at the DW Stadium on Saturday. In the draw with Aston Villa he caused havoc amongst the Villa defence and was rewarded with QPR’s equalising goal. He will be key in pressurising from the front and stopping Wigan play their passing game. If he can replicate his 76% passing accuracy from the Villa game then QPR will cause Wigan endless problems.
Both sides will look to attack as the two sides have collectively let in 55 goals this season. Harry Redknapp will look to industrious Jamie Mackie and his Moroccan magician Adel Taarabt to kick start their faltering season while Wigan will rely on striker Arouna Kone to carry on his impressive debut season in the Premier League. I expect Wigan’s fluent passing to be too much for QPR as they pile the pressure on Harry Redknapp.
Prediction- Wigan 2-1 QPR