Queens Park Rangers present a difficult challenge for the club. Manager Alan Pardew will have to reintegrate several players who have returned from international duty. And Newcastle’s injury woes could leave them with fewer options.
Harry Redknapp’s Rangers squad has conceded the most goals in the league this season and are currently languishing in the relegation zone. However, they are a well-rested, healthy side that held Manchester City to a draw in their last match.
Injuries and Suspensions
Newcastle has had to deal with players coming back injured from international duty a lot already this season. And it was no different this week. Fabricio Coloccini suffered a thigh injury with Argentina and is expected to be out for Saturday’s match and probably longer.
According to reports, Mehdi Abeid has broken a toe while training with Algeria and could be out indefinitely. And there are reports that Steven Taylor is battling a knee injury, although the club said that they expect him to train. But he remains a doubt for Saturday.
The club’s defense is stretched thin with injuries to Mike Williamson and Davide Santon. Williamson has missed the last few matches and remains a doubt for Saturday. Santon is out long-term with a serious knee injury. Defensive midfielder Cheikh Tioté is still battling a thigh injury. While Siem de Jong (thigh), Gabriel Obertan (thigh) and Jonas Gutierrez (cancer) are out indefinitely.
Queens Park Rangers is a very healthy side. The London club are missing Argentinian midfielder Alejandro Faurlin who is out for months with a cruciate ligament injury.
The Newcastle faithful know what to expect from manager Alan Pardew. The club will line-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation on Saturday at St. James’ Park. The starting XI is far from certain. Injuries and match fitness could hamper Pardew’s plans against the Rangers.
Luckily for Pardew, the squad is suddenly blessed with quality options. Paul Dummett played at centre-back last time out against West Brom and could do so again on Saturday, given all the absences on defense. Injuries to key players could force Pardew to look to out-of-favour Vurnon Anita and Yoan Gouffran again.
Rangers boss Redknapp has primarily used some form of the 4-4-2 formation for most of this season. Many of the big-money players have left the London club since it was relegated to the Championship in 2012. But they remain dangerous.
English striker Charlie Austin will be one to watch on Saturday. He leads the club in goals with six this season. He is likely to start up front with Bobby Zamora in the supporting role. Eduardo Vargas and Leroy Fer have provided much of the creativity for the club this season.
This match also marks the return of Joey Barton to St. James’ Park. The English midfielder was popular with the fans when he played for Newcastle between 2007-2011.
The odds are very much in Newcastle’s favour on Saturday, although it would be foolish to underestimate their opponents. Queens Park Rangers have lost all five league matches away from home this season. They have scored two goals and conceded a dreadful 14 goals in those five matches.
Newcastle have been the dominant side in head-to-head encounters as well recently. The Magpies have not lost to their opponents in their last six matches. They have won four of those games, against two draws. That includes two matches during the 2009-10 season, which Newcastle spent in the Championship.
And Alan Pardew’s club is riding high right now, having won the last five matches in all competitions. Newcastle will be looking for their fifth consecutive league win on Saturday.
On paper, the match almost looks like a non-contest. However, Newcastle have significant concerns when it comes to injuries and fatigue. Pardew will need to keep his squad focussed and determined. Newcastle will shake off the rust and avoid a serious upset. The Magpies should prove to be too strong for their opponents on Saturday.
Newcastle United 2 – 0 Queens Park Rangers