Former Burnley striker Charlie Austin has been in excellent form so far this season for Queens Park Rangers, scoring eight goals to take him up to third in the Premier League’s scoring chart.
The importance of having a goalscorer when you are struggling at the wrong end of the table is hugely significant. However, QPR cannot afford to rely solely on the 25-year-old’s ability to find the back of the net. Harry Redknapp will have to adjust his side when QPR play Everton away from home due to the fact that Austin was sent off against Burnley. The manager has an alarming shortage of attackers if he loses Austin to injury, as Bobby Zamora and Eduardo Vargas are the only recognisable forwards remaining.
Austin has been pivotal in gaining points for QPR this season, his eight goals mean that he has contributed half of the overall amount of Premier League goals scored by the entire QPR team. Although Austin is finding the back of the net, the biggest problems for Harry Redknapp lie in defence. They have conceded the most amount of goals in the Premier League so far this campaign. An ageing defence that consists of players such as Rio Ferdinand (36) and Richard Dunne (35) is not enough to keep QPR defensively sound this season. Also, Steven Caulker has not lived up to expectations since arriving at Loftus Road from Cardiff City and Harry Redknapp will be desperate to see more from a defender he paid £7m for in the summer.
The real problem for QPR is on the road this season. An ‘elderly’ starting XI can work effectively on the more compact pitch at Loftus Road, however, they are soon found out when they are stretched by the opposition. In seven away games so far, QPR have only managed to find the net twice. They are still waiting for their first point away from home, meaning that they have the worst away record in the Premier League. These are alarming statistics considering the amount of goals Charlie Austin has been scoring to help the side. In fact, Austin remains the only player to actually score for QPR on the road this season. If anything happens to the young English striker, the R’s will find it very difficult to reach the fabled 40-point mark at the end of the campaign. Talk of veteran striker Robbie Keane joining the club in January will hardly get QPR fans’ pulses racing but at least it shows that Redknapp is aware of his lack of squad depth, especially in the attacking areas. A key transfer could be Jermain Defoe, who looked odds on to join QPR in the winter window. However, if he decides to join Leicester City, it could become a major blow to Redknapp’s side with the Foxes another team who are also fighting for their lives.
Another alarming problem for QPR is the player’s lack of motivation. Make no mistake about it; Redknapp is a fantastic man manager, who is famous for getting the best out of his players. Therefore, it seems strange that not all of the squad was entirely fit for the first few fixtures of the season. The issue the manager has had with Adel Taarabt seems to sum up the motivational problems behind Redknapp’s crop of players. Although the squad will have shining lights such as Charlie Austin, his goals may not save an ageing QPR side that look destined for a relegation battle this season.