As if by clockwork Everton’s late season surge has firmly clicked into gear with place in next seasons Europa League firmly locked in their sights. The Toffees are in pole position ahead of Liverpool in the race for a top-six finish and hold a three-point advantage along with a game in hand over their Merseyside rivals. They were unfortunate to leave White Hart Lane with only a share of the spoils after Tottenham’s late equaliser but have won their last three at Goodison Park and managed David Moyes can welcome Maroune Fellaini and Steven Pienaar back from suspension to aid the cause. There has even been talk of sneaking further up the table into the top four and next seasons Champions League. On current form it’s a feat that isn’t beyond achieving.
QPR, on the other hand, must deal with the sobering reality that time is running out to save their Premier League skin. Harry Redknapp was visibly deflated after Shaun Maloney’s late equaliser denied his side a precious three points last Sunday narrowing their already slim hopes of survival. The required four wins from six remaining games an insurmountable task for a side who’ve managed to record just four victories all season. But, perhaps this is the week that the stars align and everything starts falling into place for Redknapp and his players. After all they’ve only lost two of the 11 Premier League meetings with Everton.
Tony Hibbert (calf) is the only absentee for Everton with boss David Moyes having an almost fully-fit squad to choose from. Phil Neville is expected to play despite announcing his decision to leave the Toffees in the summer.
QPR will have to contend without striker Bobby Zamora after he was sent off against Wigan last week. Shaun Wright Phillips (ankle) and Samba Diakite (knock) remain sidelined meaning Harry Redknapp has no fresh injury concerns.
What the managers said…
“I do think there is a big rebuilding job to go on. We have a little bit of an ageing team. If we make Europe, we have to find a way of getting another five or six players in here, on top of what we’ve already got, because of the way your squad’s affected. The clubs that don’t have a big enough squad are the clubs that get affected by it, playing Thursday-Sunday and trying to do well in all the competitions.The Champions League – playing on a Wednesday – is different. It’s a small psychological difference but over the course of a season, if you continue playing Thursday and Sunday, it can disrupt your working week.” David Moyes believes European football may be a step too far for the current Everton side (Metro)
“It’s [staying up] going to be hard but while there’s still a chance, you’ve got to keep believing. There’s not many tougher places to go than Everton — they’re a good team. It’s massive. We need to win four games and draw one to give ourselves a chance.” Harry Redknapp has not given up on Premier League survival (London Evening Standard)
Pre-Match Statistic: QPR have scored 12 times from outside the penalty area this season which is more than any other Premier League side.
Prediction: Everton 2-0 QPR