Tottenham Hotspur-Queens Park Rangers Preview
Queen's Park Rangers look to take advantage of their precious game in hand when they welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Loftus Road in the only Premier League match of the weekend.
QPR (6-4-17) have lost six of their last seven in the league to find themselves three points from safety with 11 games remaining, but one glimmer of hope for Chris Ramsey's side is that every single other club in the relegation scrap has played a game more.
A win would lift Rangers out of the bottom three on goal difference, but the west London club are likely to be desperately short on confidence after Wednesday evening's demoralising 2-1 loss to Arsenal. Charlie Austin took his league tally to 15 with a late strike from the edge of the area, but it wasn't enough to make amends for the goals conceded by a QPR defence which is joint-worst in the league with 47 goals conceded.
"We can't keep relying on Charlie," Ramsey said. "It was a fantastic strike and he played well again, but we need more players to contribute. We need to start getting goals from other parts of the field and creating more opportunities for other people.
"The problem is in a league of this quality you can't keep being unlucky. You can't always be sorry that you've lost a game. At the end of the day it's about the points."
Saturday sees QPR host their second London derby in four days, this time against a Tottenham Hotspur side (14-5-8) who have lost just one in six and showed few signs of letting their season fizzle out in midweek.
It would have been understandable had Mauricio Pochettino's side taken their foot off the gas against Swansea on Wednesday evening, reeling as they were from last week's double whammy of disappointments - the League Cup final defeat to Chelsea and Europa League exit at the hands of Fiorentina. However, the Lilywhites showed great spirit to hold off a Swansea comeback in an entertaining 3-2 win, with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris protecting the three points late with yet another top-drawer save to add to the French stopper's growing collection of match-winning moments.
"We were lucky to have a big save from Hugo - one of the best keepers in the world," Pochettino said. "The three points and victory were very important - to feel like a winner again after the game.
"It was difficult after the final to lift the players and supporters but we showed big character today and played well. It was a great performance."
Saturday is also a game in hand for Spurs, who are completely focused on claiming an unlikely top-four spot with no other outside competitions. A win for the north London club would take them up to sixth, just one point behind fifth-placed Liverpool and one win away from the Champions League qualification places.
Wednesday's victory was the first time Tottenham had won a league game without goals from either Christian Eriksen or Harry Kane since beating QPR 4-0 in late August.
Emmanuel Adebayor scored the final goal in the home victory over QPR in the summer, but the striker has fallen out of favour since then, featuring just once in the league in 2015 and not starting a top-flight game since early November. It's unlikely that the fans will get a glimpse of the lesser-spotted Adebayor on Saturday since Pochettino has a full-strength squad to pick from and is expected to continue with Harry Kane up top and Roberto Soldado as the alternative amongst the substitutes.
QPR are without the injured Leroy Fer, Richard Dunne and Alejandro Faurlin for Saturday's match, while Nedum Onuoha and former Spurs playmaker Adel Taarabt are doubts.