After proceeding into the 5th round of the FA Cup, Stoke host a struggling QPR at the Britannia Stadium.
Stoke are one of the few clubs that are genuinely a mid-table Premier League; good enough to keep away from the threat of relegation, but not consistent enough to challenge further the table. Their recent form is encouraging for the second half of the season though with only 1 defeat in their last 5 league matches against Arsenal. They were dealt a blow during the week when the injury Bojan suffered in the cup win over Rochdale ruled him out for the rest of the season.
After a break last weekend due to being knocked out by League 1 side Sheffield United in the 3rd round, QPR will be fresh and hopefully of ending their woeful away record this season. The London club have lost all 10 of their league away matches as well as a cup defeat away to League 2 Burton. This poor form has seen them spend the last fortnight in 19th place and the last away match against Burnley ended in players and fans verbally clashing.
Despite the blow of losing Bojan, Stoke have an almost clean-bill of players to choose from with only Pieters and Odemwingie set to miss out alongside the Spanish forward.
Without Bojan, it is time for Victor Moses to step up for Stoke. Being the other exciting winger, injuries have hampered Moses from playing more minutes than he has (823), but now he will be important as the direct attacking runner in the Stoke side.
With pace to burn, Moses has on occasions been a game changer for his side as he constantly beats his marker – Moses has made 3.7 dribbles on average per match this season. Mark hughes will hope to see more goals by the Nigerian international with only 1 in the league thus far, while Moses has 3 assists from the 24 chances created.
The QPR striker has produced the performances that many who have had seen him in the Football League knew he was capable of. Scoring 13 goals in 20 appearances in the league – a massive 57% of QPR’s league goals – he has been pivotal to the side.
With a weak defence, especially away from home, Austin’s goals become even more important if they are get any points out of the match. Physically strong and a willing runner also, Austin will need to be at his best on Saturday.
The last fixture between the pair at the Britannia Stadium, Mark Hughes’ team lost and Stoke won.
QPR have scored 1.2 goals on average this season, better than Stoke’s 1.1. This is defence that is the problem for QPR though, with an average of 1.7 goals conceded in their last 20 matches in the Premier League.
QPR have a number of doubts ahead of the match with Dunne, Traore, Yun, and Ranieri all have a chance of returning to the squad.
A struggling team that looks weak away from home won’t be excited by the prospect of facing the Britannia Stadium. Straight-forward Stoke win.
Stoke City 3 QPR 1