Rodgers and resurgent Reds looking to compound crumbling QPR’s woes
Liverpool (odds-on favourites to win at 4/7) have not yet eased into their stride this season, with last term’s swagger seemingly having disappeared along Las Ramblas with departed superstar Luis Suarez.
Brendan Rodgers, then, should be breathing a sigh of relief for many reasons as he prepares his side for this upcoming clash with Premier League strugglers QPR. The Hoops have historically had little luck against the Reds, with Liverpool enjoying 33 victories over the west Londoners in all competitions.
The Anfield outfit also put seven past QPR in their last three visits to Loftus Road, and will be expecting to make it two wins on the trot against Harry Redknapp’s team.
Rodgers will be happy to finally see his players doing their talking on the pitch, following an eventful international break. Liverpool top scorer Raheem Sterling will be aiming to put the fatigue fiasco squarely behind him, and is 9/5 to reap the benefits of his midweek rest by netting anytime.
Controversial Italy attacker Mario Balotelli has also been attracting attention for the wrong reasons, having been omitted from Antonio Conte’s latest international squad, and appearing to complain about the Reds’ tactical set-up.
Speaking recently, Balotelli stated that playing as a lone striker does not suit him: “If it was my choice, I would always go with two strikers. It’s the way I like to play, but Brendan asked me to play as the first striker.”
The mercurial forward will be not be pleased by Daniel Sturridge’s continued absence, as the dancing England frontman is set to miss out once again. Fans may have to wait up to a month longer to be able to see Balotelli and Sturridge paired in attack, in a combination promises to be as potentially explosive, in many ways, as last campaign’s SAS strike partnership.
Balotelli is good value at 5/1 to step up and compensate for star man Sturridge’s set back, and get into the swing of things by firing home first to help bring the Merseyside men’s jive back.
In a much-needed fitness booss for the Reds, midfielders Joe Allen and Emre Can are ready to leave the treatment table and fight for selection, whilst defensive duo Mamadou Sakho and Dejan Lovren could also be in contention for a spot.
QPR, meanwhile, will be hoping they can harness the spirit of West Ham United, who managed to snatch points from the Merseyside men earlier this season, and claim their own surprise scalp. Outsiders at 5/1 to be triumphant on home turf, if the Hoops are victorious it will be there first Premier League win of the season.
Redknapp’s men have collected just four points from their opening seven games, and are currently propping up the league table, dangling perilously over the trap door and a return to the Championship.
This relegation form has seen wily coach Redknapp under pressure even at this early stage of the campaign, and the former Tottenham boss will be hoping his side can show more fight in front of home fans.
Liverpool have an abundance of attacking options who can cause havoc at Loftus Road, with Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana (7/1 to score last after netting last time out), Rickie Lambert and set piece specialist Steven Gerrard also all vying for spots in the visitors’ starting XI.
QPR do, however, have a potential ace up their sleeve with club leading marksman Charlie Austin available at 12/5 to pounce and get a goal anytime.
Redknapp will still be without Joey Barton and summer signing Jordon Mutch, but fan favourite Niko Kranjcar may be able to play through the pain of an apparent broken toe.
Eduardo Vargas is also available at 14/5 to break his duck anytime, but, with QPR having netting just four times in seven games, Rodgers’ Merseyside men should have too much talent on hand for their trip to London to pose many problems, and are 15/8 to win to nil.