On April 12th, QPR will welcome West London rivals Chelsea to Loftus Road in a match with big implications at both ends of the table. Rangers are in the thick of a relegation battle. After this they’ll have just five games left to play and, if they don’t get a result here, they’ll only have 26 points. Chelsea on the other hand are looking at the Premier League title. They have a seven point lead and a game in hand on second place Arsenal, so really they just need to wrap up the title with a few more wins. Still, they don’t want to start carelessly dropping points and allow other teams back in the title race, so they’ll be looking to put QPR to the sword.
If the league was determined by the number of injuries a team had, QPR would be the form team right now. They have injuries to nine of their first team players. Both Yun Suk-Young and Darnell Furlong will have late fitness tests. On the other hand, Rio Ferdinand, Adel Taarabt, Alejandro Faurlin, Eduardo Vargas, Richard Dunne, Leroy Fer and Michal Doughty will all be missing with injuries keeping them out anywhere from the next few weeks to the next few months.
Chelsea only have two injury doubts, but they are two very big players. Cesc Fabregas will likely play, but he’ll be playing with a protective mask on as he has a broken nose. Diego Costa will be missing out after Jose Mourinho’s risk to play him last week didn’t pay off and he re-aggravated his hamstring injury. His new hamstring injury will keep him out for at least two weeks.
This is a match up of the joint best attack against the worst defense. Chelsea are tied with Manchester City for the most goals scored at 63 while QPR have conceded 58 goals, 9 more than any other team. In the last 8 matches between these two sides, they have ended 1-0 or 0-0 six times, so you may not want to put a lot of money on goals. In the last 6 matches between the two sides, Chelsea have only won 3 with QPR winning twice and drawing once. The Rangers’ last 4 wins over Chelsea have all been 1-0 wins. In the last 20 matches between the two sides, all the games that have had more than two goals have been Chelsea wins.
QPR: Charlie Austin
I don’t think too many people would disagree that if it wasn’t for Charlie Austin there would be a good chance QPR would be relegated already. He has scored 17 of their 38 goals and has put himself in contention for the golden boot this season only two off of joint top scorers Harry Kane and Diego Costa. Chelsea are a very strong team defensively, but Charlie Austin is the one player in the QPR team who can get a goal against anybody. He’s proved to be not only Rangers best goal scorer, but also their best player. If they’re going to get anything from Chelsea, QPR will need a big performance from Charlie Austin.
Chelsea: Eden Hazard
In a season where some of the top players for Chelsea have faded as the season has gone on, mainly Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa, Eden Hazard has been the potential champions’ most consistent player and it’s hard to argue otherwise. The Belgian has been the picture of consistency performing week in and week out. Chelsea just need a few more wins to win the league and, as he did last week, Hazard has the quality to drag his team to the finish. The Belgian is pure quality and can open up a defense like QPR’s, at will. If he puts in a good performance, it’s hard to see past a Chelsea win.
On paper, Chelsea should win this easily. They are the better team and they are going up against a defense that’s been unable to stop anyone this season. That said, QPR have been a side the Blues have struggled with in the past and the Rangers want to get one over on their rivals. These late season games are always difficult to predict because the teams in the relegation scrap will be fighting for their lives, but I expect Chelsea to bag all three points here.
Prediction: 2-0 Chelsea