Newcastle United v QPR - Preview
St James Park
UNDER new management - Queens Park Rangers are guided by Mark Hughes to St James Park as they look for a much-needed win against high-flying Newcastle United.
After another in a string of disappointing results in the FA Cup against Milton Keynes Dons, Tony Fernandes made the bold decision to call time on Neil Warnock's managerial tenure.
Hughes has now been charged with the sizeable task of guiding Rangers away from the drop zone and into mid-table security - starting with an unenviable trip to Tyneside.
The Magpies have surpassed all expectations thus far, with a fine undefeated start seeing them poised finely for a late push for European football - a feat relatively unthinkable at the season's inception.
QPR are looking to dispel a poor recent record that saw them slip into the Premier League drop-zone, with one win in 12 in all competitions seeing them trot with trepidation into St James.
Milton Keynes Dons 1 (Bowditch 65)
Queens Park Rangers 1 (Helguson 89)
Team: Radek Cerny, Luke Young, Fitz Hall, Danny Gabbidon, Clint Hill, Tommy Smith, Alejandro Faurlín, Shaun Derry (Ákos Buzsáky 77), Jamie Mackie, DJ Campbell (Heidar Helguson 61), Federico Macheda (Jay Bothroyd 71)
Newcastle United 2 (Ben Arfa 70, Gutierrez 90)
Blackburn Rovers 1 (Goodwillie 35)
Team: Tim Krul, Fabricio Coloccini, Davide Santon, Danny Simpson (Ryan Taylor 60), Mike Williamson, Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, Mehdi Abeid (Dan Gosling 87), Jonas Gutierrez, Gabriel Obertan (Shola Ameobi 56), Leon Best.
Newcastle United Team News:
Newcastle are struggling for forwards heading into the encounter against Queens Park Rangers with star striker Demba Ba away on international duty at the African Cup of Nations, and the likes of Sammy Ameobi (knee), Peter Lovenkrands (calf) and Nile Ranger (foot) all out of contention.
Better news as Danny Guthrie is ready to come back into the midfield, possibly at the expense of Mehdi Abeid, with Yohan Cabaye set to continue in his central midfield berth.
Simpson - Williamson - Coloccini - Santon
Ben Arfa - Cabaye - Guthrie - Gutierrez
Ameobi, Sh. - Best
Player to watch: Yohan Cabaye
Vital QPR has singled out Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye as the One to Watch for this weekend's encounter at St James Park.
To read our profile of the player Click Here >>>
QPR Team News:
Mark Hughes' opening test as Queens Park Rangers boss also gives him free reign to try out his current squad as necessary, which could see a few surprise selections at St James Park.
The notable absences of Adel Taarabt and Armand Traoré (African Cup of Nations), Alejandro Faurlín (knee) and former Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton (suspended) means Hughes will have to tinker with the set-up.
Paddy Kenny is set to return in goal along with Anton Ferdinand and Shaun Wright-Phillips following respective knocks. Heidar Helguson may lead the line once more after turning the game against Milton Keynes.
The centre of midfield could see a surprise inclusion for Ákos Buzsáky despite seeing relatively little game time, given his consistently indifferent form for a significant period of time.
Possible line up:
Young - Gabbidon - Ferdinand - Hill
Wright-Phillips - Buzsáky - Derry - Mackie
Helguson - Bothroyd
Player to watch: Shaun Wright-Phillips
A new lease of life could just be what Shaun Wright-Phillips needs - after a barnstorming debut against Newcastle United, backed up with a useful display against Chelsea the wide-man has been somewhat indifferent in Rangers' recent slump.
It could prove just the tonic as SWP looks set to line-up in his natural position of right-midfield with the possibility of two forwards to aim for in the front-line. Here's to hoping that Shaun hits the ground running in this one.
The Stat Attack
Newcastle United: L W L W W
Queens Park Rangers: L D L L D
HEAD 2 HEAD
Newcastle United: 19
Queens Park Rangers: 16
LAST TIME OUT
Premier League - 12/09/2011
Newacstle United 0
Team: Paddy Kenny, Shaun Derry, Danny Gabbidon, Adel Taarabt, Jay Bothroyd (DJ Campbell 80), Alejandro Faurlín, Armand Traoré (Matt Connolly 51), Joey Barton, Luke Young, Shaun Wright-Phillips (Jason Puncheon 88), Anton Ferdinand.
Referee: Mr Chris Foy (Merseyside)
Assistants: Mr William Smallwood (Cheshire) & Jake Collin (Merseyside)
Fourth Official:Mr Tony Bates (Staffordshire)
Chris Foy will once again take charge of Queens Park Rangers, but will always take on the mantra of cult-hero status following his performance against rivals Chelsea.
Foy sent off Jose Bosingwa and the petulant Didier Drogba earlier this campaign, both in fairness rightully, as Rangers recorded a victory against their London neighbours.
To read our report on the official Click Here >>>
One has to be slightly optimistic that the new manager bounce and rumours regarding new signings will spur the squad on to a positive performance, and hopefully a win to boot.
Rangers had Newcastle on the rack earlier this season with a scintillating display at Loftus Road, with only the odd elusive goal preventing them from picking up the maximum.
BEAT THE CLOCK >>>
Next Up in W12:
Who: MILTON KEYNES DONS
Where: LOFTUS ROAD
When: 17/01/2012 - 20.00