This week’s Monday night feast sees two out of form sides face off at Loftus Road as bottom of the league QPR host Aston Villa, who are fresh from a tough run of fixtures.
QPR’s return to the top flight hasn’t started in the way they had hoped. Sitting in 20th place after 6 defeats in 8 matches and 18 goals conceded – the highest in the league – with their only victory coming against Sunderland in August.
Aston Villa had a strong beginning to the season with 10 points from 4 games, including a victory over Liverpool, but an extremely tough run of fixtures against the rest of last season’s top 5 has seen 4 defeats in consecutive matches. The defence saw only 1 goal conceded in the opening 4 matches, showing a sign of hope for Aston Villa as they begin to match teams around them in the league.
The player that sealed QPR’s promotion with a late goal in May’s play-off final was an unlikely torment for Liverpool last weekend.
Not expected to feature much this season due to his increasing years, Zamora’s performance against Liverpool showed that he can play his part for QPR in their bid against relegation. The former West Ham and Fulham striker was a willing runner until his legs could give no more after 70 minutes and he created 4 chances including Leroy Fer’s miss from 11 yards. Zamora was made the second highest amount of passes in the attacking third (16) with only Raheem Sterling making more.
If QPR want a result on Monday night, Zamora will have to produce another hardworking performance for his side.
If Aston Villa line up in a 4-3-3 as expected, the midfield will be a key area that they should and could control. With Delph out injured, the responsibility will be with another midfielder. Cleverley will look to take that mantle as he continues to return to the form of when he broke to the United team after a successful Wigan loan.
His role was never known in Manchester, but the 25 year old is having an influence on the side making an average 3.2 tackles – the highest by far in the Villa team – and 2.2 interceptions per match so far this season (16 and 11 overall respectively). Noting his passing was a strong area of his game – Cleverley said he would be appreciated in Spain – the England international has a pass accuracy of 88.5% and has made an average of 45.2 passes a match, 63.6% if you include his one appearance for Manchester United.
- Joey Barton has made 14 tackles and created 13 chances in his 4 appearances in the league showing how much he’s missed by the team.
- 4 of QPR’s 6 goals have come from set pieces, while 1 has been an own goal. More chances need to be taken from open play if they are to stay up.
- Although things look troublesome at QPR, they are still a point better off than they were at this point of the season two years ago.
- Despite creating 44 chances this season, Aston Villa have only scored 4 goals – the last coming on 13th September.
- Andreas Weimann has scored two goals from two shots on target this season and they have both been winners. (via FourFourTwo)
Ferdinand, Barton and Onuoha will all have late fitness tests before Monday’s match, while Rob Green could return from illness. The game looks to come too early for Jordan Mutch though who is suffering from a hamstring injury.
There will be late fitness tests for Baker and Senderos, but massively bad news for Aston Villa is Fabian Delph being ruled out until the end of the calendar year after having surgery on his shoulder this week.
QPR are in desperate need for a win, but last week’s frantic final minutes against Liverpool could leave a devastating effect on the morale in the team. Villa will hope to return to the form they opened the season with and a trip to Loftus Road is one of the kinder grounds to do that. With these balancing out, a draw could well be on the cards.