Two teams separated by little geographical distance but who sit at opposite ends of the Premier League table meet when relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers host league leaders Chelsea on Sunday (13:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).
QPR come into the match having taken more points from their last two league matches than they did over the course of their previous 10. They are 18th in the Premier League table, with 26 points from seven wins, five draws and 20 defeats.
Chris Ramsey’s side were involved in six-goal thriller away to fellow relegation candidates Aston Villa on Tuesday. They twice led, at both 1-0 and 3-2, thanks to goals from Matt Phillips, Clint Hill and Charlie Austin, but they were unable to hold onto their advantage on either occasion and eventually had to settle for a point from an open and entertaining match.
Ramsey has done a lot of experimenting since replacing Harry Redknapp in early February. He brought the likes of Adel Taarabt and Shawn Wright Phillips back into the fold, before then discarding them, and has, in total, used 25 different players over the course of his nine matches in charge to date – five more than Chelsea have used all season.
While results over the last two matches would suggest that he is starting to find solutions, QPR still face an uphill struggle if they are to avoid relegation. They have by far the worst defensive record in the division and even over the last couple of matches have conceded far too many good-quality chances. Their attack, while productive, cannot carry all the slack.
Ramsey will definitely be without the injured Alejandro Faurlin (anterior cruciate ligament), Eduardo Vargas (knee) and Leroy Fer (knee) for Sunday’s match, while Taarabt (knock), Darnell Furlong (calf), Mauro Zarate (knock), Richard Dunne (match fitness) and Yun Suk-Young (concussion) are all doubtful.
Chelsea come into the West London derby on the back of 12-match unbeaten run in all competitions and four wins and two draws in their last six league matches. They top the Premier League table with 70 points from 21 wins, seven draws and two defeats.
Jose Mourinho’s (pictured) side extended their advantage at the top of the table to seven points with a fairly comfortable 2-1 win at home to Stoke last weekend. They created by far the better chances of the match and emerged victorious thanks to a first-half penalty from Eden Hazard and a tap-in from Loic Remy, assisted by Hazard, just past the hour mark.
With a comfortable lead and a game in hand over the following pack, it would now take a disastrous set of results for Chelsea to throw away the title in the final weeks of the season, even with fixtures against Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool still to come. They did fail in Europe, but they have been the best side in the Premier League this season.
The Blues have the best scoring record (2.1 goals per match) and the second-best defensive record (0.87 conceded per match) in the division. While the swashbuckling performances of earlier in the campaign have largely given way to Mourinho’s usual pragmatism, with a heavy reliance on Hazard, they would still be deserved champions.
Mourinho will definitely be without the injured Diego Costa (hamstring) and Jon Obi Mikel (knee) for Sunday’s match, while Cesc Fabregas (broken nose) is doubtful.
QPR v Chelsea Betting Tips Verdict
Chelsea were 2-1 winners when these sides met at Stamford Bridge earlier this season, with a late penalty from Hazard seeing them to victory. QPR have won one and drawn one in the two matches between the sides at Loftus Road during their two Premier League campaigns this century (between 2011-13). They also won away to Chelsea in January 2013.
QPR have played a game more than the majority of their relegation rivals and have to face top-half sides (including Manchester City and Liverpool away) in four of their final six matches of the campaign. Time is running out for Ramsey’s side and they desperately need to continue their recent mini-revival by taking all three points here.
Chelsea are, however, unlikely to prove charitable opponents. While they could afford to lose all three of their remaining matches against fellow top-six sides and still win the title if they won all of their other fixtures, a slip-up elsewhere would introduce unnecessary pressure. While it will not necessarily be easy, they can be expected to take all three points on Sunday.
- Back Chelsea to win on the ‘match result and both teams to score’ market @ 11/5 with William Hill, Ladbrokes, Boylesports or Coral.
- The second half has been the highest scoring half in all of QPR’s previous five home league matches and was also the highest scoring half in the meeting between these sides at Stamford Bridge earlier this season. Back the second half to be the highest scoring half @ best available odds of 21/20 with Ladbrokes or BetVictor.