QPR vs. Aston Villa (15:00)
Harry Redknapp’s appointment seems to have inspired QPR, who put in another improved performance on Tuesday to earn a point at Sunderland. A win on Saturday would cut the gap between the R’s and safety from eight points to just five:
– Adel Taarabt set off the January rumour mill with a strong showing at the Stadium of Light. He’s shot on target 23 times this season at a rate of one every 37.8 minutes, a better record than any of his team mates.
– Taarabt has also been the league’s fourth most prolific dribbler this season according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. He’s beaten defenders running with the ball fourteen times this season, once every 62.2 minutes on average.
– Esteban Granero has been one of the R’s most important players this season, and once again covered more distance than any of his teammates in the midweek game with 6.94 miles. This was the fourth match in a row in which the Spaniard has achieved this distinction.
– QPR are yet to go two games in a row without defeat in this season’s Premier League, but will be in confident mood after a solid result at Sunderland. Beating fellow strugglers Villa could be the catalyst for one of the Premier League’s ‘Great Escapes’ from relegation.
Christian Benteke’s header gained Aston Villa three vital points to put breathing distance between the club and the Premier League relegation zone. A second consecutive win could put the Villains level on points with tenth-placed Fulham:
– Benteke is keeping Darren Bent out of the Villa side at the moment. The Belgian frontman has had 69.2% of his 39 shots on target this season compared to Bent’s 60% from 15 attempts.
– Matthew Lowton is continuing the excellent tackling record that has defined his season so far. Only eight league players have bettered his 85% success rate according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– Scottish midfielder Barry Bannan is not far behind Lowton however, and has won 84.6% of the 11 tackles he’s gone in for. You can be sure that Harry Redknapp has noted this physical side to Aston Villa’s play.
– Villa have only scored three goals in seven away games this season, but have still managed to collect more points on the road than any of the three sides currently in the relegation zone. With QPR yet to win at their Loftus Road, something will have to give in Saturday’s game.