Aston Villa can recapture rampant early form away at crumbling QPR
Aston Villa and QPR both engage in this encounter on the back of perilously poor form, with the struggling duo aware it is crucial to pick up points from this Monday night clash.
The Villans (12/5 to win) began their Premier League campaign with gusto, collecting 10 points from 12, before a spate of tricky fixtures against big guns Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton saw them slump to four defeats on the trot.
Paul Lambert now has his work cut out, with the Midlands men just a flimsy three points above the relegation zone, to get the travelling team back on track.
Villa did show flashes of their early season spirit during this recent poor run, holding out against the might of City for 82 minutes, so will be expecting to be back to their best against Harry Redknapp’s Hoops.
Whilst Lambert is still without sidelined Fabian Delph, the recent return of Christian Benteke could be the key to claiming all the spoils from this encounter. The brilliant Belgian netted 10 times last term, and is available at 11/2 to fire home first and help turn his team’s form around.
Benteke was on target the previous time these two sides faced each other in the top flight, when Villa put three past their opponents in 2013. Current club top scorers Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann, both on two, also grabbed goals on that occasion, and are 5/2 and 14/5 respectively to net anytime here.
Lambert will also been keen to see the return to form of what had looked a reliable and robust rearguard containing a strong core of skipper Ron Vlaar, an impressive Philippe Senderos and Brad Guzan. Villa have conceded 11 goals in their last four league outings, but will be aiming to remedy that, and are 5/2 to keep a clean sheet against their hosts’ misfiring forwards.
QPR, for their part, cannot afford another slip up as they currently prop up the Premier League table on four points. The Loftus Road outfit have endured a difficult return to the top flight, winning just one game from eight.
The Londoners have shown glimpses of their potential to turn things around, particularly on home turf, where they have so far defeated Sunderland, split the spoils with Stoke City and even ran Liverpool close last time out.
Ending this encounter on even terms (11/5) may be Redknapp’s best hope, as Villa and QPR’s last four meetings have ended as draws on three occasions.
Whilst the Hoops could be without defensive duo Rio Ferdinand and Nedum Onuoha, fans will be feeling more hopeful about their options in attack. QPR have been struggling to score this season but, after finally opening his Premier League account by bagging a brace last time out, Eduardo Vargas is 8/1 to get two or more again.
The Chile star settling could be essential for the Hoops’ survival hopes, and claiming a surprise scalp against Villa would be the perfect start to a renaissance, after what has been a turbulent week a Loftus Road.
Adel Taarabt could also be set to feature and put his fitness issues with coach Redkanpp behind him to turn in a match-winning performance, as QPR cling on to their impressive stats against the Villans. The Londoners are 13/10 to win, having not lost at home to Villa since 1991.