The Sports Direct Arena in Newcastle will be the setting of the Newcastle United vs Queens Park Rangers (QPR) game on Jan. 15 with the big news being the appointment of Mark Hughes as the new QPR manager. Hughes was brought in this week after Neil Warnock was sacked. However, it’s just another case of a mediocre football manager in Hughes, being recycled again throughout the league. He formerly managed Manchester City, Fulham, and Blackburn to no great acclaim.
Newcastle is sitting in seventh place in the English Premier League table with 33 points from nine wins, six draws and five losses. QPR is way down in 17th place, just one point ahead of the relegation zone and three ahead of last-place Blackburn. Depending on Saturday’s results, the newly-relegated London team could be in the relegation zone looking up. They have four wins, five draws and 11 losses on the season so far and have scored just 19 goals in 20 games.
Newcastle is well out of the danger zone and before the weekend’s games were sitting just four points behind Chelsea for fourth place and a coveted European Champions League spot. QPR will have to play without the services of their captain Joey Barton who’s sitting out a three-game suspension for the red card he received QPRs 2-1 loss against Norwich City. Of course, Barton is a former Newcastle player who was more or less run out of town by manager Alan Pardew earlier this season.
The biggest loss facing Newcastle will be Demba Ba as the big striker has joined up with Senegal to play in the Africa Cup of Nations tournament. Ba has been one of the biggest surprises of the season so far with 15 league goals, just two behind Robin Van Persie of Arsenal. Newcastle will also be missing Nile Ranger, Peter Lovenkrands, and Sammy Ameobi from the squad, which means Shola Ameobi and Leon Best will have to lead the attack.
QPR will be missing former Newcastle player Kieron Dyer who’s out with knee ligament problems which he suffered on opening day. Newcastle has a decent defence with seven clean sheets on the season and shutout Manchester United 3-0 in their last match. They’ll probably be struggling up front, but they should only need a goal or two to win this game.
QPR should be a motivated bunch since they want to impress their new manager, but it’s not likely they’re going to go home with all three points from this match. They’ll be satisfied with a draw, but are more apt to lose by a goal.
Newcastle has won two, drawn two and lost one in their past five games while QPR has lost four and drawn one in their past five and are winless in their past 10 games overall.
Sportsbook William Hill has the current odds of a Newcastle win listed at 5/6 with a QPR win at 19/5 and a draw at 11/5.