Arsenal-Queens Park Rangers Preview
Queen's Park Rangers appear to be in big trouble heading into their clash with Arsenal at Loftus Road on Wednesday evening.
Chris Ramsey's QPR (6-4-16) were beaten 2-1 by follow relegation battlers Hull City last time out and go into Wednesday's London derby just a place outside of the bottom three - thanks only to a better goal difference than the two clubs directly below them.
With five defeats in six and just one win in nine, Rangers' season is in danger of unraveling at precisely the wrong time, but midfielder Adel Taarabt believes the move to appoint Ramsey as manager until the end of the season will prove a good decision by the QPR board.
"He's a good coach and a good guy as well," Taarabt said, making more than a hint of a dig at former manager Harry Redknapp. "He loves football. His life is football, and if you ask him stay for five hours to work with you after training he will do it, no problem.
"He's what we needed. We needed the intensity in training and the competition, and that's what he's given us. He's an honest guy. He's open to everybody and now it's up to us to help him."
If Ramsey's side are to claim three morale-boosting points, then they will have to do it against a club whom they have beaten just once in the past 20 years.
Arsene Wenger's Arsenal (15-6-6) have a dauntingly strong head-to-head record over Rangers and have conceded just one goal in the last three league meetings between the two clubs. The Gunners will travel to Loftus Road looking for their fourth straight Premier League win, but are still likely to be mending their fragile confidence after last week's shock 3-1 home defeat to Monaco in the Champions League.
The north Londoners went some way to bouncing back from that European disappointment with a 2-0 win over Everton on Sunday, and Wenger believes the win showed the resolve of his squad.
"It was a test of character and it was a mental response that was important," Wenger said. "It was a mental victory to respond to what happened to us on Wednesday night. To win the game is just vital. We did it in a very convincing way. We know that we can do better with the ball but we were focused on just winning the game and I like that aspect of the team as well.
"There was a big tension and I can tell you that in the last four days the tension was massive as you can imagine. The three points will be vital for our confidence."
Arsenal will be without the services of Jack Wilshere, Mathieu Flamini, Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Debuchy and Abou Diaby for Wednesday's game, while QPR are missing Leroy Fer, Richard Dunne and Alejandro Faurlin. Mauricio Isla, Nedum Onuoha and Sandro will all face late fitness tests.
Olivier Giroud suffered one of the most disappointing nights of his career against Monaco a week ago, but the France international scored in the win over Everton and will be looking to make a big impression against Rangers after being sent off in this season's previous meeting between the clubs.