When these two teams met on the opening day it’s hard to imagine the lasting effect the result would have on their respective seasons. For Michael Laudrup it was first game in the Swansea hot seat and a resounding 5-0 victory ensured Brendan Rodgers was a distant memory from then on at the Liberty Stadium. In fact the South Wales club have gone from strength to strength since then and currently sit eighth in the table with only seven points separating them from Europa League qualification. Two wins in their last 11 Premier League matches since beating Arsenal at the start of December has knocked them off course slightly and hauling his side back onto the rails with victory over QPR will be Laudrup’s primary objective.
At the other end of the spectrum QPR find themselves fighting to save their top-flight existence at the foot of the table. A lot has changed since the opening day at Loftus Road with Harry Redknapp now directing from the dugout and the feeling is he’s made the R’s harder to beat. That being said they’ve won only twice in the 12 games since his appointment and need to start putting points on the board if they’re going to avoid a return to the Championship just two years after promotion. Julio Cesar’s recent form has yielded four clean sheets in the last five league games and also illustrates the development in the defensive side of their play and scoring goals is the problem Redknapp now needs to fix. His task will be that much harder with the news that £8 million January signing Loic Remy’s is set for an injury lay-off.
Leon Britton is out with a knee problem but Michael Vorm could return from a similar ailment to take his place in goal for Swansea.
Groin injury victim Loic Remy won’t be risked by Harry Redknapp unless he is 100% fit, Junior Hoilett sits out the game with hamstring problem and Samba Diakite is still with Mali at the African Cup of Nations.
What the managers said…
“How much pressure they are under is not a question for me to answer. That is a question for their chairman and their manager maybe, but not for me. I don’t know how much money they have or what their budget is. Maybe the figures for QPR are huge compared to ours, but maybe for them it’s normal. Every club has their way and not right or wrong. This is an important game for us not because they are bottom, but because we want to win and we need six points to get to those famous 40 points. Everyone is talking about the cup final but we have two games before that and this game we have to win.” Michael Laudrup stresses the importance of the game for both sides (Independent)
“I didn’t sleep for a couple of days either after that. Adel cares, he really cares. People don’t know him and they might think he is a bit scatty but his football bothers him and he felt that he let people down. At least he had the nerve to step up and take it. He is confident he can take the penalties. If he gets another one, I’m sure he’ll score. From our recent fixtures, Norwich was maybe the one where we had a chance to get three points but we’re in good form. We’re unbeaten in five matches and we’ve played some very difficult teams. We got seven points from matches against Chelsea, Manchester City, West Ham, Tottenham and Norwich.” Harry Redknapp admits he and Adel Taarabt struggled for sleep after the 0-0 draw with Norwich (London Evening Standard)
Pre-match Statistic: QPR haven’t won at Swansea since a 2-1 success on New Year’s eve in 1981, although the hosts haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last 11 Premier League games on home soil.
Prediction: Swansea City 2-0 QPR