Reading and QPR are currently rooted to the foot of the table, laying seven points off safety following victories for Aston Villa and Southampton at the weekend.
With fellow relegation candidate Wigan Athletic winning as well things are starting to look bleak for the two bottom clubs as the number of points available slowly tick away.
Both clubs are recent promoters from the Npower Championship but have taken extremely different approaches when it comes to the transfer market. Unfortunately both seem to have ended up in exactly the same position.
Last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford now means that it is five defeats in a row in the Premier League for the Royals. Of course there is no shame losing at Manchester United but Reading fans must be wondering if defeats at home to Wigan, and more recently Aston Villa are going to cost them come the end of the season.
Anton Zingarevich took control of the club from Sir John Madejski and Reading fans sensed possible investment. The Russian confirmed that there were indeed such plans. Whilst there has been some investment the calibre of player clearly hasn’t been good enough.
The two areas that the club has obviously struggled with are away games and conceding goals. With only five points taken away from home no other team in the league has achieved fewer and with four tricky away trips to come (Arsenal, Norwich, Fulham and West Ham) it doesn’t look like the Royals are going to lose that honour any time soon.
Early mistakes in the league cost normal number one Adam Federici his place in the side and whilst young Alex McCarthy came in and did very well a shoulder injury threatened to rule him out for the season. Whilst he is back and recovering well the goalkeeping uncertainty, combined with a number of defenders simply not good enough for this level have contributed to Reading having the worst defensive record in the league.
In terms of matches still to go - aside from the aforementioned away fixtures, Reading have pivotal home matches against Southampton and QPR as well as the visits of champions Manchester City and Liverpool.
If their rivals are having problems keeping the ball out of the net then QPR have certainly struggled putting it into the net this season. Before Harry Redknapp was appointed on 24th November QPR had only scored nine times in the league and whilst things have picked up they are still the league’s lowest scorers.
Defensively, things haven’t been too bad (they aren’t even in the bottom three in terms of goals conceded) and that is largely due to the impressive performances of former Inter Milan goalkeeper Julio Cesar.
Whilst the Brazilian’s performances have certainly dropped in the last few weeks Redknapp is fortunate that he has England international Rob Green to call upon as his number two. QPR have spent £29 million on transfers so far this season including big deals for Esteban Granero, Loic Remy and Christopher Samba but it hasn’t helped them in any way.
For whatever reason neither Redknapp nor his predecessor Mark Hughes have been able to get the stellar names to gel together and as such they are facing big financial problems should they go down to the Championship.
QPR pay their players ludicrous wages meaning other clubs will be less inclined to sign them if they refuse to take pay-cuts.
Harry Redknapp has said his team realistically need four or five wins to survive but the problem is it is tricky to see where those points are going to come from. Away from Loftus Road QPR face Fulham, Everton, Reading and Liverpool whilst Wigan, Stoke, Arsenal and Newcastle will all visit West London over the course of the next two months.
The only matches QPR fans will be expecting to win will be the matches against Reading, Wigan and Stoke so that means they need one, maybe two more brilliant performances.
This is the side who have taken four points off European champions Chelsea this season but also managed to self-combust so spectacularly at home to the MK Dons in the FA Cup.
Both these sides have produced some dramatic performances so far this year but ultimately their lack of consistency has cost them. You would argue that Reading are in a far better position than QPR should both go down given the characters in the squad and their financial situation.
Whilst it’s all hypothetical right now it is beginning to look as if the other teams are starting to put some distance between themselves and these two sides. I worry that it could be curtains as far as these two are concerned.
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