In the aftermath of the most dramatic day in Premier League history last May, the vast majority of the attention was rightly on Manchester City’s incredible title triumph but in west London, the overriding sense was one of relief.
Queens Park Rangers had survived to live another day in the top flight by the skin of their teeth (had Bolton beaten Stoke they would have been relegated) and afterwards manager Mark Hughes, appointed in January to avoid a drop to the Championship, was bullish about the future, stating that a close shave with the relegation zone ‘would not happen again as long as I am at the club’.
He may well be right, but at the moment things are not going to plan. Rangers are currently propping up the entire division without a win all season and after the money Hughes was given to spend over the summer by owner Tony Fernandes, that is not the situation those at Loftus Road were expecting to be faced with come the start of October.
Rangers should end up nearer halfway than the bottom come the end of the campaign and it has to be said that this slow start has been self-inflicted. Hughes has had money, but the fact they have been labelled ‘Queens Park Strangers’ says it all and there is no doubt that a seemingly haphazard recruitment policy has not done Hughes many favours.
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Despite a poor record thus far in the Premier League, the Irons are set up to play away from home, as their record in the Championship last season shows (13 wins and 45 points was the best in the division).
Quality has been brought in, but a coherent approach has been severely lacking: you just have to look at the signing of Julio Cesar, snapped up after the purchase of Rob Green, to see that Hughes looks to have been throwing mud at the wall and seeing what sticks regardless of age, Premier League experience, cost, wages, length of contract and other considerations that most managers are duty-bound to look at.
So it is perhaps no surprise to see QPR struggle early on as players get to know each other, but they need a win and soon. Their next chance comes this evening when they host London rivals West Ham United at Loftus Road. Despite being winless, Hughes’ men are 23/20 favourites to claim their first three points of the season, with the draw at 12/5 and the Hammers at 11/5, and this has all the makings of a tight encounter.
West Ham have enjoyed a decent start to life back in the big league: the fixture list has been kind (the Hammers are yet to face any of last year’s top eight) but Sam Allardyce’s side have made the most of that, winning two and drawing two of their five games to gain a very respectable eight points.
But seven of those points have come at home and the Hammers are yet to score a goal on their travels, losing 3-0 at Swansea and drawing 0-0 at Norwich. Not that QPR have been free-scoring: Rangers are yet to score at home either, a 5-0 loss to Swansea and a goalless draw with Chelsea all they have to show from two matches.
And with West Ham certain to be happy with another point on the road, QPR could be in for another tough night. Despite a poor record thus far in the Premier League, the Irons are set up to play away from home, as their record in the Championship last season shows (13 wins and 45 points was the best in the division). I don’t see West Ham being expansive, but I think they can dig in and make life difficult for a QPR team still finding their feet and the 13/10 on West Ham in the draw no bet market is my play.
The Hammers are the more settled side with a set pattern of play and can make the most of facing an incoherent Rangers outfit. Predictably strong at set-pieces, West Ham will fancy their chances of scoring against a side that has conceded 14 goals already this season in league and cup and though it is a hard one to call, taking the draw no bet option on West Ham is the most sensible call.
Recommended Bet: West Ham draw no bet @ 13/10
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