Mark Hughes’ first game in charge of Queens Park Rangers sees him travel up to the North East to take on a Newcastle United side revitalised under Alan Pardew.
Hughes will be without four of his big names players for the trip to the Sports Direct Arena, as captain Joey Barton is suspended, Adel Taarabt and Armand Traore are on African Cup of Nations duty and midfielder Alejandro Faurlin is out for the rest of the season. QPR have only scored 20 goals all season and were beaten 4-1 comprehensively at Loftus Road against Sunderland in their last Premier League game under former boss Neil Warnock. The introduction of Hughes holds the main aim of escaping relegation to the Championship and with Saturday’s results putting QPR into the bottom three, they need a positive result in the North East.
Newcastle will have different ideas and have ambitions of reaching European football following their superb start to the season. The Magpies also have players away on African Cup of Nations duty in top goalscorer Demba Ba and midfielder Cheick Tiote. Those two players are vital to Newcastle and with Peter Lovenkrands, Nile Ranger and Sammy Ameobi unavailable also, the strikeforce for the Magpies should be Leon Best and Shola Ameobi. Newcastle’s last outing was a superb win at home against Premier League champions Manchester United and they have recorrected their form following a difficult run of results before Christmas.
With QPR’s lack of goal threat and Newcastle keeping seven clean sheets already this season, Alan Pardew’s side are the favourites for victory. Hughes’ arrival in the QPR dressing room should raise spirits, but even with Ba and Tiote, the Magpies should come out on top.
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