Hull City will resume proceedings in the Premier League after a fairly long and arduous 12-day wait, at the KC Stadium, when they entertain fellow relegation contenders in Queen’s Park Rangers in a 3PM kick-off come Saturday. The 2-0 win over Aston Villa at home can’t have come at a better time with Hull City facing another team in and around them in front of their own fans, a chance Steve Bruce would not want to miss to put themselves out of their misery at least temporarily. The Tigers have been ravaged by injuries and form this season when you put the fact that the win over Villa at home was only their 3rd win in the last 18 matches into perspective you are looking at one of the teams that could potentially face the drop come May but with the return of key players in Mohammed Diame and Nikica Jelavic to the fold with the latter finding the net almost instantly on his return, Steve Bruce could have finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel.
There’s been a lot of huff and puff moments at Loftus Road throughout the campaign but QPR have settled the nerves after finally putting their away hoodoo to an impressive end albeit at the 12th time of asking. Yes, Chris Ramsey has worked his magic, guiding the hoops to an efficient and much needed 0-2 win at Sunderland and now all of a sudden QPR are starting to look up the table, trying to find their way out of the relegation rumble. Having handed the job until the end of the season in a mission to secure their Premier League status, manager Chris Ramsey has mentioned some good old cliche in ‘belief’ and ‘six pointer’ when he was asked to describe the game in prospect in his latest press conference while also sounding out the importance of top scorer Austin’s return ahead of the visit to Hull. He said,
“I think the players will have the belief – that I think they should have anyway – because we have got some talent and games like these are nothing but six pointers. They should believe that they can accumulate some more away wins, so hopefully another away win might boost the squad even more.”
Defenders James Chester and Rosenior will certainly miss the weekend’s game with the pair out until the first week of April suffering from a dislocated shoulder and an ankle problem respectively. But Steve Bruce will be boosted by the return of midfielder Diame with him available for selection after his long injury layoff.
For QPR, the fortunes are mixed. Chris Ramsey will be more than just relieved to be able to name top scorer Charlie Austin in his lineup but another vital player in Leroy Fer is set to miss out on this game and the next eight weeks with a knee injury, while Sandro remains off the pace for a first-team return after a similar issue.
Hull City have conceded a Premier League high 11 goals from outside the penalty area this season, while QPR are second having shipped eight.
QPR have allowed their opponents 139 shots on target against them, 10 more than any other team in the top flight.
Michael Dawson has blocked on average 1.5 shots per game, a higher rate than any other player in the top flight.
QPR ended a run of seven Barclays Premier League matches without a win with victory over Sunderland last time out (D2 L5).
Nikica Jelavic – Hull City
Jelavic has been very important to Steve Bruce’s Hull so much so that the difference in the performance levels are staggering when he is sidelined through injury. The 29-year old forward scored in the vital win against Aston Villa after his return to the squad, that could potentially set the tone of the side’s displays and results in the crucial games between now and May and such has been his impact on the Tigers’ style of play. He’s scored 7 goals this season in 19 appearances from a mere 12 shots on goal while he’s also hit 20 shots off target, something Jelavic has to improve on to get more of those on goal. With the arrival of another forward in N’Doye who also happened to find the net in their last win, Jelavic’s partnership with the new signing could turn out out to be even more pivotal to Hull’s chances of survival and of course getting maximum points from Saturday’s encounter.
Joey Barton – Queen’s Park Rangers
Joey Barton has had a decent Premier League campaign, if not spectacular. Though the midfielder has so far lived up to his reputation of being aggressive on the field which at times borders recklessness with him on a 7 game yellow card streak (Premier League record) something he may not be proud of and may want to put the handbrake on. The 32-year old has not directly influenced some of the good results they’ve had this season but has been able to keep the midfield ticking with a bit of his own steely character and experience at the top division. Rangers currently are top of the mini league when you include sides that sit below Crystal Palace in the league table and that says something about the quality in the side and that there are worse sides, on paper at least. It’s about time they kicked on in the league on the back of their first away win coming at the best of times and Barton could be their catalyst to accelerate their steady upturn of form and results all the more so when Leroy Fer is out of the action for the foreseeable future.
Goals should come at a premium in this fixture and three of the last four league meetings between the two sides have ended as draws. A stalemate is definitely worth a punt.
Hull City 2-2 Queen’s Park Rangers