Will it be a Happy return for Harry on Saturday?

redknappJust after their home defeat against Liverpool at the end of December, QPR manager Harry Redknapp made the bold prediction to the watching Sky Sports audience that Rangers could “get out of this”.  Since then they have shown signs of life, including the coupon-busting win at Stamford Bridge versus Chelsea.  But it was the trip across London to play West Ham that I’ve had my eye on this week. Despite his “loveable” image as a true Eastender, ‘Appy ‘Arry isn’t the most popular ex-Hammer in E13. Perhaps it was his “interesting” transfer dealings whilst at West Ham, brilliantly recounted by Tom Bower’s in his book Broken Dreams, or the fact he managed arch rivals Spurs, but Redknapp will not get a heroes reception on Saturday that he perhaps, like his nephew Frank Lampard, feels he deserves from the Upton Park faithful.

Recent form suggests that this game could be a lot closer than current league positions suggest. Both have come off the back of tricky midweek FA Cup replays, with the Super Hoops recording a great win at West Bromwich Albion whilst The Hammers succumb to a predictable defeat at Old Trafford. Bookies bwin suggest the smart money is with a low scoring game, with under 1.5 goals at 1.83.  West Ham’s home form this season has seen them taken points when they have gone a goal behind, as they did against Chelsea back in December.  But scoring goals has been a major problem for the Hammers this season, with Kevin Nolan top scorer with just five goals.  In fact Carlton Cole’s two league efforts are the best the forwards at West Ham can manage so far this season but he is still 6.5 to score first with bwin.

The two clubs have shared more players than most over the modern history (aka The Premier League years) than most. Whilst Keiron Dyer is a current player who has graced both sides, (in the loosest sense of the world) Martin Allen and his cousin Clive, Tim Breaker and Steve Lomas have made the move in the Premier League Years.. Of course going back a bit further there was the legendary 1980/81 side of West Ham that featured Phil Parkes and Paul Goddard who played for both teams. Parkes was a legendary stop shopper as well as being fond of a bet himself and would have snapped up the odds of 3.30 on keeping a clean sheet on Saturday.

Hopefully the normally excellent pitch at Upton Park will survive the attack of freezing temperatures and that the only thing Redknapp takes away from Upton Park is a Sullivan and Gold bobblehead, reduced in the post Christmas sales.

QPR spend wisely to boost survival chances

Mark Hughes has moved quickly to improve QPR’s chances of achieving survival in this season’s Premier League by securing Nedum Onuoha from former club Manchester City on a four-year deal. The versatile defender is exactly the sort of player this QPR side needed, and could well be the signing the club needed to be able to shore up their leaky defence.

The 25-year old is reunited with his former City manager Hughes, who has admitted his delighted at having secured the in-demand former England Under-21 man. Those following the Live In-play betting will be wondering what sort of impact he will have.

“Nedum is a player I know well. He is a very good addition to the squad,” he said.

“He did very well for me at Man City and played a number of games, probably more than under any other manager,” Hughes added.

“He is very versatile. He can play centre-back or right-back and has good pace.”

Onuoha was never really given the chance under Roberto Mancini that his previous performances had perhaps deserved, eventually leading to the Nigerian-born defender joining Sunderland on loan last season. Onuoha went on to establish himself as an essential part of the Sunderland defence under Steve Bruce, and would have signed permanently at the Stadium of Light had a fee been agreed between the two clubs. Fans of the betting exchanges such as Betfair sports betting odds need to bear this in mind.

There was no shortage of interest in the defender, however, it appears Onuoha’s eagerness to link back up with Hughes was the deciding factor in his decision.

Hughes will have been well aware that of how important it is for QPR to start keeping regular clean-sheets if they are to have any chance of maintaining their top-flight status. The current team may be lacking in some areas but it’s a tight defence that forms the platform on which this team can build. Onuoha’s presence in the side will certainly improve the club’s chances of achieving that target.

The Queens speech

Our very own Abi Davies puts on her new Christmas Jumper, packs her Turkey sandwiches and heads down to the Liberty for the last time in 2011.

Having picked up 15 points from our opening 8 home games, Swansea City were hoping they could continue in a similar vein of form when they played host to fellow promoted side Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday. Swansea were looking to gain revenge for last Boxing Day’s game at Loftus Road, which saw Brendan Rodgers’ side condemned to a crushing 4-0 defeat.

Having made impressive second half appearances against both Newcastle and Everton, Kemy Agustien was rewarded by a place in the Swans starting XI, as he was favoured ahead of Mark Gower for Tuesday’s game against Rangers.

The only other Swans change came in defence as Neil Taylor missed out due to a knee injury, Angel Rangel made his first start since picking up an ankle injury against Aston Villa, whilst Jazz Richards was drafted over to left back. Continue reading

It could have been so much worse

More often than not you remember games you have been to for the right reasons.  A day out in a cup final, a thrashing of your local rival or just a game where everything just seems to click.  However, sometimes there are events that you will always remember but for the wrong reasons.  These things are often locked away in your darkest places simply because you do not want to face up to them.

Football should be a pleasurable experience.  But there are times when reality touches the game, and reality is not always a bundle of laughs. I grew up in a turbulent time for the game.  During my most impressionable years I witnessed the Bradford fire, Hysel and numerous games tainted by serious crowd trouble.  Football Hooliganism had been a feature of our game home and abroad for most of the decade, and the rise of organised groups was testament to the fact that the police had no idea how to counter the frequent incidents.

As a West Ham United fan I was fully aware of the presence of the Inter City Firm, and the Under 5’s.  As a regular both home and away since 1980 I had seen scary incidents at Coventry City after the 1981 League Cup semi-final and the near riot at St Andrews in a FA Cup tie in February 1984. But one game will always stick in my memory, primarily for what could have happened but also for events a year later. Continue reading