Manchester United travel to Loftus Park with both teams needing a win but for very different aspirations. United are looking to hold on to their 4th league position, and QPR increasing their hope of survival in Premier League.
Both teams have been in poor form recently, and pressure is rising on both the veteran managers.
HOME SIDE — Queens Park Rangers
Current QPR boss Harry Redknapp made his name as a football manager presiding over a victory with Division Three’s Bournemouth as they beat Division One’s Manchester United in 1984. 2 and a half years ago things were looking great for old Harry. Guiding Tottenham to Champion’s league spot, he was primed for the England’s job. Though a mind baffling decision by FA, and some hard luck, he now find himself managing a team who are currently placed second from the bottom, having qualified to Premier League this season only. Though having some decent experienced players at his disposal, Redknapp has failed to get the best out of them. QPR currently have worst away record in Premier League. It must be a great relief that this weekend’s game is at Loftus Road, but they have still only won once in their last seven matches.
Surprisingly though, QPR boast one of the best strikers in the Premier League in Charlie Austin. And he will be the key against a team who has more than a vulnerable defense and no settled center back partnership. Also, despite all their woes, The Hoops are only 3 points adrift of 12th place Everton, and win could do wonders for the team. Another player to look out for is Adel Taarabt. The 25 year old though unsettled can start against the red devils and has the capability of changing any match single-handedly. It is surely a uphill task as visitors have a better squad, but some extra motivation by experienced players like Rio Ferdinand and Joey Barton might just do the trick, specially when Manu are going through a mini crisis of their own.
Provisional squad: Green, Isla, Dunne, Caulker, Hill, Vargas, Henry, Barton, Fer, Taarabt, Austin, Phillips, McCarthy, Onuoha, Mutch, Zamora, Zarate, Kranjcar.
AWAY TEAM — Manchester United
Well Manchester United is back under the scanner. After a run of good form and arguably luck, Manu hasn’t played well since the boxing day victory over Newcastle. And after a dismal performance at home to Southampton last week, the allmighty Louis van Gaal is now feeling the heat. It was not only a defeat which led to the team losing 3rd spot to their opponent, it was also the manner they lost it. Despite of having more of the ball, the Red Devils were looking clue less in the final third and failed to create any clear cut chances until late in the end, which were spurned by Juan Mata. Evidently comparisons between van Gaal and Moyes followed, increasing the pressure on Dutch.
Rooney has not been comfortable in his deep role, and neither has Di Maria in his advanced. Both returning to their natural positions will make much more sense, specially when United have struggled to score goals without their captain in the attack. And the defense, well finding A a regular center back partnership will be start. It’s a matter of time before Louis signs a new defender but till then Smalling and co will have to do the job.
Another criticism that van Gaal’s men have to endure is that they have failed to cope against physical game of English football, and rightly so. And when they are playing against a team who have players like Joey Barton and Richard Dunne, the manager will be looking to field Fellaini rather than Darren Fletcher.
Robin van Persie has astonishingly maintained his injury record by picking another minor knock that might keep him out of the match. This gives another chance to Falcao, who was so bluntly left out of the squad against Southhampton. It has been a tough life at Old Trafford for the Colombian star. It’s easy to forget that not long ago he was considered among the best strikers in the world and a little more first team action might just help him find his previous form.
Nevertheless, Manchester United can call themselves lucky that they are playing against a side which are battling relegation at at tough stage of the season, and a game like this is probably what they needed.
Provisional squad: De Gea, Lindegaard, Valdes, Vermijl, Blackett, Shaw, Smalling, Evans, Rojo, Jones, McNair, Rafael, Pereira, Blind, Fellaini, Fletcher, Herrera, Valencia, Lingard, Anderson, Carrick, Powell, Januzaj, Di Maria, Mata, Falcao, Rooney, Van Persie , Wilson, W Keane.
Both managers will be desperate for victories, but only one can walk away happy. It is a game that Manchester United should win, but stranger things have happened before.
The game starts at 8:30 pm IST, Saturday.
Pursuing Computer Science Engineering from Bangalore Institute of Technology. Avid sports fan, specially football. A lifelong United supporter.