Arsenal were relieved to get back to winning ways on Sunday with a 2-0 victory over Everton, but a trip to West London could prove a sterner test on Wednesday night.
A win was desperately needed after midweek, and hopefully it provided some sort of tonic for the players.
The fans, however, will probably require a string of results being put together to settle nerves and the general mood after another setback this time last week.
Eighteen points from the last twenty-one available has seen us climb to third in the table, but with just seven points (and games in hand to be played) from 4th-7th it’s vital to keep that run going.
QPR are well rested having not played since 21st February, and will look to exploit any tiredness in the Arsenal squad.
Loftus Road is a tough place to go at any time – we struggled there in both 2011/12 and 2012/13, losing there in 2012 and holding on to a very narrow 1-0 scoreline a year later – Theo Walcott scored on both of those visits.
Arsène Wenger compared the old ground to Highbury and you can see what he means; the crowd sit very close to the pitch and, especially under the floodlights, it can create an intimidating atmosphere.
Coupled with QPR’s tenacity in midfielder with the likes of Karl Henry and possibly the return of Sandro, the game could get scrappy.
The meeting at The Emirates earlier in the season certainly turned into a scrappy affair.
Despite a commanding lead, Olivier Giroud got himself sent off and Arsenal conspired to make the match far tighter and more difficult than it had to be.
Wenger may well look to rotate after playing two games in the past week. QPR will certainly be much fresher, and that may tempt the manager into making a handful of changes.
However, he will be keen not to disrupt the form of any of his players and may take into account the fact that we don’t play again until Monday night.
Midfielders Mathieu Flamini and Jack Wilshere aren’t yet ready but Aaron Ramsey is back, while Francis Coquelin could play with a protective mask after breaking his nose against Everton.
Wenger will have to decide whether Danny Welbeck or Walcott are worth a start, and will also consider bringing Per Mertesacker back into the side. Tomas Rosicky may well be pushing for a start after his goal on Sunday.
Wenger praised Mertesacker in his press conference, saying the German “has a great mental stature that is absolutely remarkable, and his contribution to the team has been excellent.”
Speaking about Gabriel on Tuesday the manager was also complimentary, lauding his performance on Sunday. Wenger also said that “we bought him for (the first team) and of course that’s what the target is for him.”
Possible XI: Ospina; Bellerín, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla; Welbeck, Özil, Alexis; Giroud.
QPR haven’t had a particularly enjoyable return to the Premier League to say the least.
Our old friend ‘Arry Redknapp departed as soon as an unsuccessful transfer window closed, and Chris Ramsey has been placed in charge until the end of the season. Ramsey’s appointment has already seen him achieve something Redknapp didn’t manage in 11 attempts – an away win.
It’s only three games since he took over, but the team seem more solid under him. An undeserved late loss to Southampton followed the win at Sunderland, and Joey Barton’s red card cost his team at Hull last time out. Other than against Hull, Ramsey has only used one striker, but with Charlie Austin, Bobby Zamora, Mauro Zarate, and Eduardo Vargas all available maybe that will change.
Rangers have been much better at home than away this campaign but haven’t won in front of their own fans for four games, and have also so far lost when visited by any of the top seven except City. Not without a fight, though – as Liverpool and Manchester City fans will have you know.
As well as Barton the West London side are without Nedum Onouha, Richard Dunne, Mauricio Isla, and Leroy Fer. Midfielders Sandro and Niko Krancjar could return.
Possible XI: Green; Furlong, Caulker, Ferdinand, Suk-Young; Phillips, Sandro, Henry, Traoré; Zamora, Austin.
It’s so important to keep our good league run going, but this will be no easy task.
Fighting to stay up, QPR know that their home form is vitally important, and they really do make it tough for any visiting side – we’ve been lucky to come away with all three points on just one of our last two visits to Loftus Road.
Zamora and Austin dovetail well – Zamora is a handful for any defender with his strength and experience, while Austin has been clinical this season and is the highest scoring Englishman in the Premier League. They also come into the game much fresher than us so we have to be ready for that.
They don’t have the highest quality at the back or in midfield and we can, if we’re up for it, take control in the middle of the park. From there we could exert our authority and really put our stamp on the game. Starving them of chances would be vital, and we know we have enough quality to trouble anyone at the back.
Another win in the league should leave us in a good position as well as high spirits heading into the big FA Cup tie next week.