Manchester United will be desperate to kick-start their season with a victory at home to Queens Park Rangers on Sunday (16:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).
The Louis van Gaal era has got off to a slow start, with a home defeat to Swansea City on the opening day of the season followed by away draws against Sunderland and newly promoted Burnley. In addition, Man Utd were knocked out of Capital One Cup by MK Dons.
It is still early days and there were signs in the draw with Burnley that at least the attacking portion of Van Gaal’s 3-4-1-2 formation is starting to come together. Angel Di Maria (pictured) provided energy and invention on his debut, and United created some good chances before fading following his withdrawal on the hour. There were, however, moments of defensive frailty.
In the wake of that draw, the earlier purchases of Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Di Maria were added to by the arrivals of Danny Blind and Radamel Falcao Garcia, taking United’s summer spending northwards of £150 million. After failing to secure key targets last year, the club have gone all out to strengthen the squad for the new campaign.
Van Gaal often takes a little time to get going at a new club – as he, himself, has been quick to point out – and it will surely take a little while for all of the new signings to settle and perform as expected. With that said, in light of the huge investment the club has made, patience is unlikely to be everlasting if results do not improve between now and Christmas.
Van Gaal will definitely be without Michael Carrick (ankle) for Sunday’s match, while Phil Jones is also expected to miss out after suffering a hamstring injury on international duty with England. As many as four of the club’s new signings could debut, including Shaw, who has recovered from the hamstring injury that has sidelined him until now.
Queens Park Rangers were promoted from the Championship through the playoffs at the end of last season and began their top flight campaign with defeats to Hull City and Tottenham Hotspur, before bouncing back to a record a 1-0 home victory over Sunderland.
Like van Gaal, Redknapp had utilised a back three in QPR’s first two matches of the campaign, but he reverted to a back four for the win over Sunderland. The visitors began the match brightly, but QPR took a first-half lead through Charlie Austin and defended stoutly thereafter to keep Sunderland at bay and secure their first three points of the season.
It will be interesting to see if Redknapp now elects to stick with a back four. In Mauricio Isla and Armand Traore he has two wing-backs capable of providing the necessary attacking thrust down the flanks, but with a lack of pace in defence QPR were unable to play high enough up the pitch to regularly get them into dangerous areas during their first two games.
QPR’s transfer deadline day dealings added quality at the base and head of midfield, with two of Redknapp’s former Tottenham Hotspur charges, Sandro and Niko Kranjcar, coming in. They did not, however, add to their options in attack. They are therefore reliant on Austin replicating his Championship scoring rate and Eduardo Vargas hitting the ground running.
Redknapp will be definitely be without long-term injury absentee Alejandro Faurlin (anterior cruciate ligament) for the trip to Old Trafford, but he otherwise looks to have a full squad to pick from.
Man Utd v QPR Betting Tips Verdict
United have won each of their last four top flight encounters with QPR, most recently in the 2012/13 season. They generally have a very strong record against the London club, having won 11 and drawn three of the last 14 meetings between the sides in all competitions. QPR’s last victory against United came at Old Trafford back in 1992.
United have struggled to adapt to Van Gaal’s system so far, putting in a string of lacklustre performances in the early weeks of the season. Their transfer dealings have, however, undoubtedly improved the overall quality of the squad and Van Gaal will be confident that his side are capable of taking their first steps up the table with victory on Sunday.
QPR were terrible in their 4-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in their last away match and will have to be far better organised if they hope to come away from Old Trafford with a positive result. Redknapp’s squad was strengthened by the incomings on transfer deadline day but an overall lack of quality is still likely to be QPR’s undoing.
- Back Man Utd -1.5 on the Asian Handicap @ best odds of 4/5 with Paddy Power.
- QPR went two goals down inside the opening half hour in their previous away match against Spurs and will be keen to keep things much tighter during the early exchanges of Sunday’s match. Back over 24 minutes in the ‘time of first goal’ market @ 10/11 with Paddy Power.