Harry Redknapp will want to chalk up his first win after QPR’s return to the Premier League, having opened with two consecutive defeats against Hull City and Tottenham. Sunderland have a solid two points from the first two games, drawing 2-2 against WBA at the Hawthorns in their first game, before disappointingly dropping points against Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United in a 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light last weekend. This match has the potential to be a cracker, with both teams looking for their first win of this campaign, and it’ll be interesting to see how the two managers set up their sides for this fixture.
QPR ran out 3-1 winners against the Black Cats at Loftus Road the last time these teams met in the Premier League with Loic Remy, Andros Townsend and Jermaine Jenas finding the net after Steven Fletcher had given Sunderland the lead.
Sunderland are not expected to have any injury concerns for Saturday’s fixture, but QPR have doubts over the fitness of striker Charlie Austin (hamstring).
Alejandro Faurlin could also miss out having left the field with an injury during the defeat to Burton, but loan signing Eduardo Vargas could make his QPR debut.
Sunderland have won 4 of their last five league matches with QPR, stretching back to 2005, excluding a 3-1 loss in their previous encounter.
Head-to-head: QPR:11 SUN:13 D:7
Sunderland – Connor Wickham
The Black Cats will need the 21-year old Englishman to retain the prolific form he displayed at the end of last season and get back to goalscoring ways against QPR on Saturday. Gus Poyet’s side only scored 41 goals last season, but will have to up their game if they want to comfortably avoid relegation this time around. They also struggled against sides in their region of the table last year – on their way to victories over Manchester United and Chelsea – so it is vital they try to avoid a similar situation this time around, and the key to that will be the goalscoring of their frontmen, especially if their move for Fabio Borini from Liverpool falls through before deadline day.
QPR – Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker
QPR may also be in desperate need of some goals, having scored no goals in the league so far, but they need to tighten it up at the back if they have any hopes of avoiding the drop in their first season back in the Premier League. Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker may be unfamiliar with the 3 man defence system favoured by Harry Redknapp, but Ferdinand is experienced enough to lead the back line, and he will have to keep his composure along with former Cardiff man Caulker for the Rangers to stand a chance of keeping a clean sheet.
Projected Starting XIs
Sunderland (4-3-3): Mannone – Vergini, van Aanholt, Brown, O’Shea – Cattermole, Larsson, Rodwell – Buckley, Wickham, Fletcher
Queens Park Rangers (3-5-2): Green – Caulker, Ferdinand, Dunne – Isla, Mutch, Barton, Fer, Traore – Phillips, Remy
Loic Remy scored his first Premier League goal in this fixture two years ago.
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It’s usually difficult to predict fixtures such as these, but home advantage and huge pressure on Redknapp to deliver might just be enough for the Rangers to take home their first three points of the campaign.
QPR 2-1 Sunderland