Southampton v QPR – Match Preview
When it comes to narratives this is a game where the battle to avoid relegation takes a backseat. Coincidentally the return of Harry Redknapp to St Mary’s for the first time since Southampton’s relegation in 2005 falls on the same day as his 66th birthday. Interestingly enough current Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino will also be treated to a rendition of ‘happy birthday’ as he celebrates turning 41. The ideal present for both would be three points in this basement clash. Pochettino revealed during the week he is well aware of Redknapp’s history on the South Coast and will hope the strong media focus on the Rangers chief will work to his sides advantage as they look to bounce back from last weeks defeat at Newcastle. Plugging those defensive holes remains a major issue for Southampton but with a free scoring attack, spearheaded by Rickie Lambert, they are favourites to pick up three crucial points against rock bottom Rangers.
Redknapp, meanwhile, will hope the venomous welcome expected to greet his presence at St Mary’s won’t distract his QPR side as he seeks to trigger a late survival push. But with just two wins in the league all season the outlook looks bleak for the West London side, whose heavy January investment has yet to pay off. Loic Remy was one of those big money signings and the onus will be on him to fire them to safety and improve on a pitiful return of 19 goals in 27 games. As a whole the R’s shown few signs they’re up for the fight and already seem resigned to playing in the Championship next season. But in Redknapp they have a man renowned for being able to galvanise a squad in stick positions and he’ll need to do just that if he is to lay his ghosts to rest on the South Coast and keep spur his side to safety.
Jose Fonte is expected to stay on the bench as he continues to regain his fitness but Jason Puncheon and Gaston Ramirez should be recalled the starting lineup.
QPR won’t be able to call upon Bobby Zamora after he was ruled out with an ankle injury meaning Loic Remy is likely to start up front. Tal Ben Haim (hip) is a major doubt.
“I do know the past of Southampton but I do not know every single detail of what happened. I am always interested in football matters so I have become interested in this matter as well. But my main goal is always to generate a positive atmosphere for my team and always respect what the people say. I will thoroughly respect whatever they want to say on Saturday but I think what is truly important is they get behind the team and push us to try and get the three points as best as we can.” Mauricio Pochettino expects Harry Redknapp to receive a stinging reception on his first return to Southampton (Metro)
Pre-Match Statistic: These two sides haven’t contested a Premier League game since the 1995/96 season when Southampton beat QPR 2-0 at The Dell.
Prediction: Southampton 2-0 QPR