Sunderland-Queens Park Rangers Preview
Three games into the season, the prospects are already looking bleak for Harry Redknapp's Queens Park Rangers as they head into their match Saturday versus Sunderland.
Beaten 1-0 by Hull City on the opening weekend, QPR were taken apart by Redknapp's former club Tottenham Hotspur last Sunday with a display that centre-back Steven Caulker described as "weak". However, there were no sign of improved fortunes on Wednesday night when Burton Albion from the fourth tier of English football knocked Rangers out of the League Cup with a 1-0 win.
Redknapp made nine changes for the midweek cup tie, but will be looking for a reaction from his first team at Loftus Road versus the Black Cats.
"I'm bitterly disappointed," said Redknapp. "We were poor, really, really poor. You've got to have quality in any competition and we didn't have any tonight.
"It's important we forget about tonight as quickly as possible and focus on Saturday's game with Sunderland which is massive now. We need to get up and running in the league as soon as possible."
Sunderland scored a late equaliser to claim a point at West Bromwich Albion on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, and summer signing Jack Rodwell netted a leveler to earn them a point against Manchester United in their first home game of the season last weekend.
The Black Cats fared better in the League Cup, scoring three late goals to beat Birmingham City and record their first win of the season, and midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini is hoping that the team can build on that performance and pick up three points on Saturday.
"It was very important to keep the ball and pass it well because Birmingham are a very good team," said the Italian midfielder, who returned from injury to start. "We did our bit well and the goal was always coming. We will now focus on Saturday's match against QPR."
Gus Poyet has no reported injuries in his squad ahead of the game, but he is likely to be busy in the transfer market as the summer window nears its conclusion on Sept. 1.
QPR will be without striker Charlie Austin (hamstring), and Redknapp will undoubtedly also be looking to chance his arm in the remaining days of the transfer window. Rangers have already made a splash with the signings of Caulker, Rio Ferdinand, Leroy Fer and Jordan Mutch, as well as bringing in Chile internationals Mauricio Isla and Eduardo Vargas on loan from Serie A.
The Loftus Road club took four points off Sunderland when they were last in the top-flight in 2012-13, winning 3-1 at home. The Black Cats did the double over the Hoops the season before that, and those four games are the only Premier League meetings between these clubs.
They did meet on four occasions in the second tier between 2004 and 2007, with Sunderland winning all four matches.
Going back to their last spell in the Premier League, QPR have lost five straight EPL games and are winless in 11. They've also been outscored 13-1 in their last eight and have dropped four on the bounce at Loftus Road.
Rangers' record of no points, no goals and a minus-5 goal differential is the worst two-game start to a Premier League season by any club in the last four seasons.