On September 20th, Stoke City will travel to Loftus Road to take on Queens Park Rangers. Neither one of these teams have started the season well. QPR have only three points from the first four matches and have only scored one goal all season.
Stoke are expected to be around the top half of the table, but have started with only four points from four matches. After having a great first season with the club and a good summer, Mark Hughes will be expected to be away from the relegation zone this season. It’s still early in the season, but they haven’t had a great start scoring only two goals.
Neither team have too many injuries to deal with, but they are both faced with players sidelined for an extended period with ACL injuries. Stoke have Peter Odemwinge out after he had surgery on his torn ACL. Steven Ireland and Erik Pieters are both gametime decisions. Geoff Cameron’s return time is unknown as he continues to recover from his side strain.
QPR will be without Argentine Alejandro Faurlin as he recovers from his third torn ACL in three years. They could be lifted by the returns of both Jordan Mutch and Joey Barton who both face late battles to be deemed fit.
The two sides have faced each other four times in the Premier League with each side winning twice. In the all time head to head, QPR have the edge with 16 wins while Stoke have 10 wins with the teams drawing on six occasions. The last three times the two sides have met one of the teams have kept a clean sheet. QPRs one league goal is joint worst in the Premier League, their nine goals conceded is joint second worst, and they have the worst goal difference in the Premier League. Stoke have only scored two goals, but have only conceded three which is joint second best in the Premier League.
QPR have had an extremely rough start to the season. They will be hoping their new beast of a signing, Sandro, will help steady the ship. The ex Tottenham man arrived at Loftus Road from North London on transfer deadline day. The Brazilian will add some steal to the QPR midfield and help protect what has been a very leaky defense. Sandro made an interception every 28 minutes last season, made a clearance every 32 minutes, and broke up play with a foul every 28 minutes. The 25 year old midfielder has some experience at the top level of football, something that can be invaluable when a team is fighting for their lives in a relegation race. The Brazilian seems to have a good relationship with Harry Redknapp. The English manager seemed to get the best out of him when he was at Tottenham and, if he can get that out of him now, it will go a long way in QPR’s quest to stay in the Barclays Premier League.
Stoke’s key man will be their Austrian international, Marko Arnautovic. The former Weder Bremen man joined the club last summer and enjoyed a strong debut season the England scooping up Stoke’s young player of the year award. Arnautovic has appeared in two matches for the start of this 2014 season and has created five chances in only 144 minutes on the pitch. Stoke’s biggest problem so far has been their inability to put the ball in the back of the net. They’ve only done so twice, but their defense has won them points only conceding three times. If Stoke want to push on from last season and push for a Europa League spot, they will have to score more goals. Arnautovic’s creativity and his ability to pop up with a goal himself could be key for Stoke.
Sandro received 6 yellow cards in his last 8 games as a Tottenham player.
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Based on the first four fixtures of the season, this is not going to be a goal fest. Neither team has done a whole lot to impress offensively this season. Stoke have been strong at the back this season, while QPR have been leaking a lot of goals. I can’t see any more than one goal in this match and I can’t see it coming from QPR.
Prediction: 1-0 Stoke