Relief as much as pleasure was the principal emotion that followed Wednesday’s performance and result against Swansea as we at last stopped the rot that has set in since the Gooners were despatched on February 7. Not far off a month between wins is no way to challenge for a top four spot, which is why we’re not at the fight for Moneybags League places party and, without a dramatic improvement in the consistency and form of certain players and the number of clean sheets being kept by the defence, we are unlikely to gatecrash it.
Sixth is guaranteed a Europa League spot and if we overcome QPR on Saturday afternoon we’ll leapfrog Southampton for the first time this campaign and that’s where we’ll be sat. That was our realistic goal at the start of the season and we’ll have done well if we end up there.
On paper it’s a good time to travel to Loftus Road. It was something of a fortress in the early season but they’ve now lost their last three home games and in fact have won only one of their last ten fixtures anywhere. Harry’s now gone of course but before he left he turned Rangers into something of an old Spurs home with Taarabt, Kranjcar, Jenas, Caulker, Zamora, Assou-Ekotto and Sandro all recently or currently plying their trade in the glorified shoebox. They have a player on their books called Aaron Lennox – surely he counts as well? Another ex-Spur Chris Ramsey is in charge.
We’ve not done well on our recent visits to QPR, turning in a couple of lacklustre and goalless exhibitions. Winning a game in hand though inflicts psychological blows on those around you in the table so Saturday would be a good day for Harry Kane to end his relative goal drought. Two and a bit games without notching! Teams appear to have decided that crowding him out is the way to stop his goalscoring antics and it’s a tactic that works because of our general lack of threat from elsewhere.
Over the years we’ve proven that we’re not the best at kicking clubs when they’re down, we should be feeling very confident going into a game against a club with their run of form and in their position but then thoughts stray to Charlie Austin and the fact that Zamora rarely has a bad game against us, Sandro will have a point to prove, etc etc. They too have a big incentive to try and win their game in hand, they will move above Villa and out of the bottom three if they triumph.
After rotating carefully since the first Fiorentina game Pochettino slightly bizarrely picked an unchanged side against Swansea. It’s unlikely to happen again, though if he’s found his best side and we don’t have to worry anymore about fixture congestions, why not? I would’ve guessed Lamela would come in to the side but both Townsend and Chadli scored on Wednesday so he may not. Davies may come in for Rose if the latter is struggling and Poch may be tempted into giving Dembele another chance given that his strength might useful against Sandro.
Whatever the selection we should be looking forward to it. The top four is unrealistic (we probably would have to win nine of our last eleven games) so we can hopefully expect nothing but expansive and joyful football for the rest of the campaign with maybe a few youngsters given a chance here and there.
Craig Pawson is the referee. COYS.
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