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Crunch clash for QPR and Burnley in fight to get into Premier League

QPR started the season as favourites to win the Championship title, but after such a promising start to the campaign it’s all turning into a bit of a dogfight.

Coral still rate them 9/4 chances to finish on top of the pile, but now it’s Leicester City (8/15) in the box seat with an eight-point lead (having played a game more).

As things stand, the Hoops are one of four sides fighting it out for the second automatic promotion place, an uncomfortable position for manager Harry Redknapp and chairman Tony Fernandes, both banking on an immediate return to the Premier League.

The other three teams involved at the moment are Derby (16/1), Nottingham Forest and Burnley (both 20/1) and it is the Lancashire lads who will be all out to make life even more awkward for QPR when they visit Loftus Road for the televised Saturday lunchtime fixture.

Redknapp is bemoaning his injury list at the moment and fears that his team might not have the necessary quality to achieve this season’s vital ambition.

They certainly haven’t been overly impressive while winning all of their last three home games 2-1 (they were quite fortunate to beat Bolton last time) and will need to step it up a notch in this match and in upcoming fixtures away at Derby and at home to free-scoring Reading.

Burnley are the team that just won’t go away. Punters still aren’t taking them too seriously, but they have lost only three games all season and inflicted one of QPR’s four defeats of the campaign at Turf Moor in October.

Neither team has been as impressive collectively in front of goal as Leicester or Derby and Charlie Austin, scorer of 14 of QPR’s 33 Championship goals, but now sidelined with a shoulder injury, will be badly missed.

Burnley’s Danny Ings (15) and Sam Vokes (12) have between them contributed more than two thirds of Burnley’s 39 and manager Sean Dyche will be hoping he can resist the inevitable outside interest and keep them in tandem.

Coral go 15/8 that Ings is on the mark again this weekend (13/2 at any time), while Vokes is 11/4 (8/1).

But QPR (10/11) and Burnley (3/1) also have the best two defensive records in the division and with everyone in both camps acutely aware of the potential damage a defeat could bring, this may well be the sort of tight, tense affair where one chance taken will settle it – Coral go 6/1 the home side nick it 1-0 and 10/1 the visitors do the same.

Perhaps the draw (12/5) is the safest bet, while 8/11 under 2.5 goals also catches the eye.