Aston Villa will start 2019 with a Championship fixture against QPR at Villa Park today. Dean Smith will be hoping for an improvement on recent performances and a return to winning ways on home soil.
Villa has failed to pick up a win at Villa Park in three. Their last home victory came in a 4-2 win over local rivals Birmingham City back in November. During those three games, we have conceded 10 and scored 9. A nice low score entertaining win please boys?
As you would expect due to our recent home form, it doesn’t look as good as it did back in November. We have picked up 20 points from a possible 36. Only 2 losses have come during those games but it is the 5 draws that are a concern and will cost us come to the end of the season unless it improves.
QPR have been on a good run of form recently and find themselves sitting just 4 points outside the playoffs. Steve McLaren’s men are also undefeated in four which included an impressive win over Nottingham Forest.
Just like Villa, QPR concedes their fair share of goals. 32 compared to Villa’s 38 in 25 games this season. Only Bristol City and Stoke have scored less than QPR (31) in the top half of the Championship.
As I mentioned in my preview earlier in the season, QPR will look to sit deep and play the long ball at every opportunity. They average 72 long balls per game! QPR will have an aggressive approach, look for the long through ball and break on the counter-attack. Its how they scored in their 1-0 win at Loftus Road. I predicted this. It will be interesting to see how Smith approaches this compared to Steve Bruce.
ONE TO WATCH
My one to watch is Toni Leistner. I wouldn’t normally pick a defender in this section but I feel the German is so crucial to QPR. At 6ft 2ich it is no real surprise that he is good in the air.
He has also contributed to a couple of goals this season and as an average rating of 7.17 so far this season. Just like his central defensive partner, Joel Lynch, he will also look to play the long high ball forward at every opportunity.
Jack Grealish is still missing with a shin injury. There has been no time frame placed on when he will return. Axel Tuanzebe (foot) and Neil Taylor (hamstring) are also both set to miss out.
Orjan Nyland will also be missing after being ruled out for the season yesterday. New signing Lovre Kalinic will not be registered in time. So either Mark Bunn or the returning Jed Steer could be in goal. Henri Lansbury may be available after returning to training and Tommy Elphick is available for selection following his recall from Hull.
Defenders Geoff Cameron (hamstring) and Angel Rangel (thigh) have been ruled out for QPR. Striker Tomer Hemed has also been ruled out with a groin problem.
Ryan Manning has been recalled from Rotherham and could replace Massimo Luongo who is away at the Asian Cup.
HEAD TO HEAD
Aston Villa edges the head to head battle with 25 victories. QPR have 21 and 13 games have ended all square.
QPR have the upper hand on recent meetings having won the last two games between the two sides.
The first-ever meeting took place in the FA Cup in 1920. Two goals from Billy Walker gave Villa a slim 2-1 victory in front of 33,000 at Villa Park.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Predicted XI: Steer; Bree, Chester, Elphick, Hutton; Bjarnason, Hourihane, McGinn; Kodjia, Bolasie; Abraham.
Kick Off: 15.00 (GMT)
TV: Sky Sports Red button
Tickets: Estimated 39,000.
Odds: Aston Villa 5/6 QPR 17/5 Draw 13/5 (Betfair)