It would be fair to say that both of these sides have experienced troubled campaigns so far, with Everton struggling in the bottom half while QPR’s woes stretch even lower as thy occupy 18th spot. It means that the pressure really is on for both to get a result and ultimately approach the festive schedule with some confidence.
After breaking their transfer record and signalling their ambitions during the summer, most people thought that Everton would be one of the sides to watch this term. However, the Toffees really have struggled with consistency and Roberto Martinez hasn’t been able to replicate the success that he was praised for last year. The club currently sit in 13th spot and alarmingly, this puts them just four points ahead of their opponents and the bottom three. Recent form doesn’t seem to be rescuing them either and having lost three of their last four, the Toffees desperately need to start putting results together. Their Europa League commitments obviously haven’t helped and after playing just several days ago, it remains to be seen if there are any tired legs in the Goodison Park camp.
QPR on the other hand seem to be turning the corner, with their 2-0 win over Burnley last week at least putting some light at the end of their tunnel. It means that just one point keeps them adrift of safety at the moment and a victory could theoretically take them as high as 14th. Of course, it’s not only been that win over the Clarets which has shaped their position, with the R’s also beating Leicester and recording a draw with Manchester City over the course of the last few weeks. It means that some pressure has been lifted from the shoulders of Harry Redknapp, although he’ll know the importance of fixing the club’s away form following eight straight defeats on the road. In other words, they’ve lost all of their away games this season.
As for team news, there has been some good news for Everton this week with the news that John Stones might be back sooner than first anticipated. However, James McCarthy, Darron Gibson and Steven Naismith are all penned in for late fitness tests, while there definitely won’t be a place for Gareth Barry who is suspended. QPR also have a player out through a ban, with top scorer Charlie Austin poised to sit out following his recent red card. There should at least be a place for Steven Caulker though, even though he was hospitalized following an accident at the club’s Christmas party.
In terms of a prediction, we think this one will be a straightforward victory for Everton. They may have stuttered this term, but they are up against a QPR side who have been dismal on the road. Bearing this in mind, we’ll tip a 2-1 victory for Roberto Martinez’s side.