We’ve surpassed March, and we’re starting to break away at the top of the Premier League, with seven games remaining. March is the key month in the title race, as the pressure hots up, the final standings start to pan out, but most importantly the remaining fixtures have to be taken seriously. Game by game.
QPR’s visit to Old Trafford on Sunday means that United could go eight points clear at the top of the Premier League, or it could mean that we let City make up ground on us. Players, management and fans need to take this one as business as usual, as we do with all games, until number 20 is well and truly in the bag.
And it wont be the walkover that it would seem to be on paper. Our visitors have something to play for too, and being at the wrong end of the table, embroiled in the relegation battle, means that they will make the visit up north to give us a game. And with Mark Hughes at the helm, we don’t need to be told how difficult his teams make it for us.
There are likely to be a few changes to the side that beat Blackburn Rovers on Monday for this one, with Nani available for selection again after a five-match absence with an ankle injury.
Anderson is still out with a hamstring injury, and despite Michael Owen nearing full fitness, he’ll again be absent.
With all games being important, expect to see the squad fully utilised for the remainder of the season, and we could see Hernandez continue up front with Rooney, with Welbeck being rested again with Aston Villa in mind.
For QPR strikers Heidar Helguson and DJ Campbell could return to the starting line up after recovering from injury, but with nine strikers at Sparky’s disposal (Macheda not being allowed to play as per the terms of his loan), it’s a guessing game who he’ll pick to try and shoot the reds down.
United haven’t conceded a goal in four league games. David De Gea being very responsible for that, pulling some astonishing saves out of the hat at Ewood Park, and earning the rave reviews that we were hearing about prior to his signing.
QPR will be looking for their first victory at Old Trafford since 1992…the live New Years Day game on ITV, where United were humiliated by a Dennis Bailey hatrick in a 4-1 thrashing of the home side.
United have won their last seven Premier League games, and 10 of their last 11.
QPR have not won in their last nine away games.
QPR seem to like saving their results for the bigger teams. This season they’ve beaten Arsenal and Chelsea, and recently beat Liverpool who top the mid-table zone of the Premier League. These have been great results for the R’s, and can only incentivise them to go for all three points on Sunday.
There’s also the fact that City old boys Joey Barton and Nedum Onuoha will be looking to do their old club a favour, as well as their current clubs survival chances the world of good.
The Loftus Road view:
We spoke to QPR match goer Ben Harrington for his views on Sunday’s game, and asked him what it felt like to be back in the Premier League after a few years away:
“It’s had its moments I guess, but it’s been a tough season.” Ben told us. “Obviously beating Chelsea, coming from 2-0 down to take three points from Luckypool and then last week against Arsenal are all highlights, but they’ve been few and far between. It’s made for an interesting end to the season.”
Ben is confident that QPR can avoid the drop, and thinks they’ve got the battling qualities that they need to be here next season. “If the lads all put in a shift for the remaining fixtures as they did last week, then I fancy our chances. There are three very winnable games left, plus I can see another shock win – let it be Chelsea – before the season is over. I don’t want to get too carried away, but the last two home games have given us a fighting chance. Naturally we’re going in with great team morale. The pressure is off us in a sense for this trip, but if we lose it’ll be right back on us. Genuinely I don’t see us getting anything out of it, but as long as we hold our own, we can host Swansea on Wednesday with our confidence intact.”
When it comes to Sunday’s game, Ben told us that a few players may cause us problems in our quest for all three points. Ben said: “Taiwo down the left has impressed of late and Taarabt possesses that magic, but for me, Diakite is the one to watch. Strong as an ox and a tidy footballer from what I’ve seen. A bit of a liability with his tackles at times, but the boy can play. That said, Scholes will be a massive test for him on Sunday. From our point of view, keeping the ball the way United do best will be a problem for us, rather than trying to walk it in like they did against Blackburn. Rooney and Scholes are obviously key, but Valencia is the one I fear the most. Top class player. “
Ben predicted a narrow victory for United, and for us reds, we’ll certainly take that on Sunday as we look to try and get closer to title number 20.
Wherever you’re watching it, enjoy the game.