The optimist could say that QPR are on their joint longest unbeaten run since promotion, with Harry Redknapp causing a positive effect on the squad. The pessimist would remark that this is the longest winless run at the start of a season in Premier League history, and that QPR have failed to win any of Redknapp’s first three games in charge, all eminently winnable against Sunderland, Aston Villa and Wigan.
Must-win games are starting to run out. QPR now require exactly 1.5 points per game between now and the end of the season to reach forty points. Hoping for a record of W8 D9 L5 between now and May for a team whose record currently reads W0 D7 L9 is one hell of a turnaround.
A home derby against Fulham is an opportunity that needs to be taken. Their opponents may have won the two games 6-0 and 1-0 last season, but Fulham have won just one of their last nine away games. At some point, crisis becomes lost cause.
It is over two years since Manchester City last lost three consecutive games, and that is not a record that Roberto Mancini will want to break after their first defeat of the season last week and first home defeat in two years.
City are not out of the title race, but will need to get back on track immediately if they are not to lose irrevocable ground. Thankfully they face Newcastle, whom they have won their last seven games against and, victory against ten-man Wigan aside, have looked shoddy in recent times.
A huge trip to St James’ awaits.
Despite a strong start to the season, it has been a difficult time for Wigan. They have slipped into the relegation zone and will need to pick up more points at the DW. Away from home things have been better, and the Latics have won more away games than nine other PL teams.
This weekend is particularly crucial for Wigan when you examine what the teams around them are doing at the same time. Of the four teams directly above them, Villa travel to Anfield, Newcastle face Manchester City, Sunderland go to Old Trafford whilst Southampton don’t even play (and even that will be a trip to Chelsea when rearranged).
A trip to Carrow Road will not be easy, but this could be a free roll of the dice for Roberto Martinez.
There is a sneaky suspicion that Liverpool may have turned a corner under Brendan Rodgers. Three consecutive victories including wins at West Ham and Udinese, and a current streak of one defeat in 11 Premier League games has seen the club move within four points of the top four.
More importantly, the club also have a chance for that run to continue. Before the trip to Old Trafford on January 13th, Liverpool face Villa, Fulham and Sunderland at home, and travel to Stoke, QPR and Mansfield. Whilst the old adage of ‘no easy games’ remains true, there are certainly reasons for optimism at Anfield.
Best not to shoot yourselves in the foot by dropping points at home to Villa then.