Aston Villa-Queens Park Rangers Preview
Two teams in desperate need of a win will meet at Loftus Road on Monday evening.
Queens Park Rangers (1-1-6) are bottom of the table with just four points from the opening eight games on their return to the Premier League. Harry Redknapp's side go into Monday's encounter on the back of three consecutive defeats, but the QPR boss is keen to take the positives from last weekend's 3-2 defeat to Liverpool. Rangers equalised twice in the last ten minutes, only for Steven Caulker's unfortunate own goal deep in extra-time to hand the win to the visitors.
"I've been pleased with our home form," Redknapp said. "We were excellent against Liverpool and we'll need another performance like that again against Villa on Monday. The quality and spirit we showed on Sunday was excellent from the first minute.
"This is a tough league - there are no easy games - and Villa will come to Loftus Road looking to win the game. They're quick good on the counter and will be tough to play. But we're at home. I'm still confident we will be fine this season."
Paul Lambert's Aston Villa (3-1-4) started the season with a bang, picking up ten points from their opening four games. However, four straight defeats in four tough matches since have seen the Villans slip back into the lower half of the table and just three points clear of the bottom three.
The Midlands club were on the receiving end of a 3-0 drubbing against Everton last weekend and Lambert is keen to see a response from his players against the basement club.
"This week has been really good," Lambert said. "Training has been really positive. I think the lads know they never performed against Everton. That's the first game I have come away thinking 'we absolutely deserved nothing'. We never started the game right. I don't think we were our usual energetic selves on Saturday. But the reaction in training has been really, really good.
"We're going to have to go and earn the right at Loftus Road on Monday. It's a tough place. It's a difficult game, but we're looking forward to it. The response has been really good this week. We'll be ready for it."
Villa have injury concerns over Nathan Baker (hamstring) and Philippe Senderos (thigh), while Fabian Delph (shoulder) has been ruled out for up to six weeks and Libor Kozak remains out with a broken leg.
QPR are without Alejandro Faurlin (knee), Joey Barton (hamstring) and Jordan Mutch (hamstring), while Rio Ferdinand, Sandro, Nedum Onuoha and Rob Green face late fitness tests. Adel Taarabt is reported to have missed the week's training due to a bout of illness.
Villa took four points off Rangers when they were last in the Premier League back in 2012-13. The meeting at Loftus Road ended 1-1, while Christian Benteke scored the winner in a 3-2 victory at Villa Park in March 2013. The Belgian striker has returned to the first team in recent weeks after his long-term injury absence, and is still looking for a first goal since his comeback.
Three of the last four games between the two have ended in draws, and QPR haven't beaten Villa in the league since 1995. However, Villa have never won in six top-flight visits to Loftus Road, losing three and drawing three - conceding in all six games.