When the 2012/13 season started, QPR fans and their management had high expectations, which may have contributed to the poor campaign the London side has had. Their goalless draw last weekend against Reading confirmed what many feared for quite some time now, forcing Harry Redknapp's side out of the Premier League.
Two victories at Loftus Road so far in the season are a clear indication of how QPR's season has played out. Their most recent coming on March 9th in a 3-1 victory over Sunderland. Since then, four losses and one draw have all but buried them, with a slender goal difference keeping them out of last place.
With relegation already confirmed, it will be very hard for the English manager to get the most out of his players, considering he already could not do that since his arrival at Loftus Road.
Andrew Johnson and Hogan Ephraim are out for QPR. Loic Remy has made a quicker than expected recovery from groin injury and could even be available for this one. Fabio is ineligible as he cannot feature against his actual club. Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones, Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher are all out for Manchester United.
Given the Chelsea owner’s intolerance with underachieving managers, it would be no news if Rafa suffers the sack in the very near future. However, should he remain until the end of the season, it is likely that his short-term contract at Stamford Bridge will not be extended.
So where is it next for the former Liverpool manager? We look at five clubs which could each offer Rafael Benitez an escape route.
Valencia was the club where Benitez first enjoyed notable success. He defied all odds by guiding Los Che to their first league title in 31 years, back in 2002. They enjoyed even more success in 2004 under Benitez’s guidance as they won both La Liga and UEFA Cup titles. From then onwards, Valencia have gone on a decline. Rafa could be the man to resurrect this team which is struggling to compete with giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Winners: David Beckham and PSG
The aging legs of David Beckham still have much to offer. After training with Arsenal, the veteran midfielder signed for PSG on Thursday. He is still one of the best when it comes to set-pieces and it would be really interesting to see how he fares for his new club.
“I'm lucky to have achieved what I've achieved and earned what I have earned,” he told the press concerning his top deal.
“One of the reasons to come here is that with Nasser [Al Khelaifi, PSG president] and [sporting director] Leonardo, we've decided on something quite unique.”
Jose Bosingwa, Andrew Johnson and Hogan Ephraim are all out for QPR. Loic Remy, Junior Hoilett and Shaun Wright-Phillips should all be back fit for Harry Redknapp’s side. Bobby Zamora has returned to full fitness. Samba Diakite is on international duty for the London side.
The main topic at the Bridge is around the future of Frank Lampard. This has even overshadowed the John Terry-Anton Ferdinand handshake issue which occured when both teams met in September 2012.
Veteran Lampard, who is loved by the fans, netted his 191st and 192nd goals last Sunday as Chelsea survived a real scare away to Everton. It is with sort of determined attitude that coach Benitez will want to see his side perform against Queens Park Rangers.
The hosts are going through some sort of revival under the ex-Liverpool manager who is gradually controlling the temper of Roberto Di Matteo supporters. At the exception of Arsenal, England’s biggest football clubs all enjoyed a great New Year’s Day.
QPR survived from relegation last season and they find themselves at the bottom of the table this season with just one win in 18 games.
QPR defender Ryan Nelsen is reportedly down with a virus and may not recover in time to face Liverpool on Sunday.
Manchester United will meet Queens Park Rangers for the 50th time in a competitive match at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Former Manchester United manager Mark Hughes was fired from his job at QPR on the same day Sir Alex Ferguson’s statue was unveiled in front of United’s stadium. The R’s have not won at Old Trafford since 1992 and are yet to win a game this season in the premier league.
Wayne Rooney returns to the squad after missing United’s last two games due to tonsillitis. Chris Smalling will be available for selection and Jonny Evans started training but he is a doubtful start.
The last match for the Gunners at Carrow Road did not go so well for the London side. An extremely lackluster performance with not much creativity or urgency in the offensive half carried over into their Champions League match midweek.
Fans filled the Emirates Stadium hoping to watch Arsenal bounce back from their second Premier League defeat, but once again, Arsene Wenger's side seemed out of it. Santi Cazorla's trickery and outstanding passing weren't enough for Arsenal to get the three points.
Bouncing back at home against a last-placed Queens Park Rangers will be extremely important for Arsenal.
At Sunderland, Man United did their homework by recording a 1-0 victory thanks to Rooney’s lone goal but at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City did the impossible. The Citizens netted 2 goals in injury time to turn around a 2-1 deficit against Queens Park Rangers.
The latter got reduced to ten men early in the second period as Joey Barton kicked Carlos Tevez with his elbow. With the numerical disadvantage, City became ultra-defensive.
However, the introduction of Armand Traore was the turning point in the game. Out of nowhere, Queens Park Rangers went 2-1 up inside the 66th minute.
Traore’s run down the left wing was vital in the build up to his team’s second goal. Djibril Cisse had previously equalized Zabaleta’s first-half opener.
The 2011/2012 English Premier League season is not far away from kicking off, so it’s certainly a perfect time to look once more at the teams involved and at the things expected.
Like each year, 3 teams go down and 3 teams go up. Like each year, only a few teams get to qualify for Europe. And like each year again, only one team gets to be crowned as winners of England’s globally followed Premiership.
What the 2010/2011 season produced
Manchester United are the reigning champions—having collected a total of 80 points (9 more than Chelsea and Manchester City). Meanwhile, one of the big talking points at the end of last season was about Arsenal’s devastated conditions.