Date:Friday January 18 2013
Upton Park welcomes Queens Park Rangers and a certain Harry Redknapp this Saturday. Sam Allardyce will be hoping that the Hammers can end what has been a poor week, with defeats at Sunderland (Premier League) and Manchester United (FA Cup) to mull over. QPR, despite their perilous position in the Premier League, have struck some kind of form winning away at Chelsea and drawing with Tottenham Hotspur at Loftus Road, It has all the ingredients of a potential classic.
With snow blitzing the country and with numerous fixtures set to fall by the wayside, the subject of a winter break has reared its ugly head again.
Big Sam, ahead of the clash with QPR this Saturday, has his own views, remarking,
"You do not need a long one, and at the end of the day you would not flog a racehorse like you would flog our players."
"There is a lot of research out there to suggest a winter break benefits football clubs in Europe from suffering less injuries.
"It shows it is of great benefit, but the fixture congestion with the Premier League and the other leagues find it very difficult to fit in.
"They would say 'What benefit would two weeks make?` Well a hell of a lot if you could leave your players doing nothing for a week in terms of rest and recuperation, physically and mentally.
"That would get them re-energised physically and mentally and ready to move forward again."
Is Big Sam right?
Sam Allardyce, having seen his squad reduced to three fit defenders for the FA Cup replay at Old Trafford, will be able to welcome back Joey O`Brien whilst James Collins, who missed the reference fixture with a hamstring injury, stands an outside chance for being considered for selection.
Another likely to feature is Mark Noble who has overcome a calf problem but we`re unlikely to see either Andy Carroll or George McCartney, both of whom have knee problems.
Back to full fitness, we`re hoping that Diame can get back to producing the powerhouse performances we`ve become accustomed to.
Harry Redknapp brings his squad across London to his old stomping ground, buoyed by the signing of Loic Remy, from Marseille. The French striker is expected to feature at some stage of the game.
Last time out, Harry recalled Sean Derry to partner Stephane M`Bia in midfield, it`s a partnership he may be forced to continue with, especially with Samba Diakite on African Nations Cup duty and Esteban Granero an doubt due to injury.
It`ll be interesting to see if the Frenchman can make an impact in the Premier League.
Fixtures between these two clubs, since the turn of the century, have been scarce, 3 to be exact. Two of these were in the Championship and one, in the Premier League, earlier this season. A th the moment West Ham have won two and QPR one.
As for the last time QPR won at Upton Park, you`d need to go back as far as August 1993 when we were trounced 4-0.
The officials for this match are as follows:- Referee - H. Webb Assistant - P. Kirkup Assistant - R. West Fourth Official - K. Friend
It`s always hard to predict the outcome of London derbies, they can be a great leveler, but if Big Sam is looking to relieve the pressure after slipping down the table then beating Queens Park Rangers, who are below us in the table, is a must. I`m optimistic that it is something we can do and I reckon a buoyant Upton Park will cheer the side on to a 2-1 win.
Next up for the Hammers is a trip to the Emirates Stadium, on Wednesday evening, to play Arsenal in the fixture that was postponed due to the London Underground strike on Boxing Day.
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Date:Friday January 18 2013
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