Tottenham Hotspur-Queens Park Rangers Preview
By TOM BENNETT
STATS European Football Writer
(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - Harry Redknapp will be looking to get the better of his former club at Loftus Road on Saturday, when Queens Park Rangers take on Tottenham Hotspur.
Rangers (2-7-12) beat Chelsea 1-0 in their last game in the Premier League and have taken nine points from the eight matches since Redknapp took over, but they still remain at the foot of the table and five points from safety. Speaking ahead of his first meeting with Spurs since parting company with the north London club, Redknapp spoke of the strength in depth of the Lilywhites and the positive experiences he had leading the club to two fourth-place finishes and a Champions League quarterfinal.
"Spurs could field two teams who could compete in the Premier League," said Redknapp. "They have a second team who would hold their own at the top level without any problem. For a start, they have five top-class centre-backs. They're full of quality everywhere. It's a similar group to the one I left but then Mousa Dembele has gone in and done well. They have an outstanding group of players, no doubt about that.
"It will be strange but time moves on and I have no bad feelings towards Tottenham," continued Redknapp. "I don't live my life like that. I had a great time there, I loved the fans and they were great to me. Not many people walk away from a club as popular as I was at that time. Normally when you leave a football club, you go out with the fans shouting for you to go but I never had that. The people treated me absolutely brilliantly."
Despite the loss of Redknapp, key players Ledley King, Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart and a string of injuries to important players over the course of the season, Spurs (12-3-6) have impressed under new manager Andre Villas-Boas. Going into Saturday's game in third position in the league, Villas-Boas called for his team to win against its former boss to put pressure on the clubs around them in the race for the top four.
"What I want is for us to profit from a weekend where the top teams meet each other," said the young Portuguese manager. "It will be excellent for us if we can get Manchester City in between this battle between ourselves, Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton.
"That is our objective, to shorten the gap to the top and open the gap to the teams who are below us, so in the end if this could happen this weekend it would be perfect for us. That is what we hope for."
QPR have concerns over Esteban Granero (hamstring) and Armand Traore (knock), while Junior Hoilett (hamstring), Jose Bosingwa (back), Bobby Zamora (hip) and Andrew Johnson (knee) remain out. Spurs injury problems have eased, although they do have doubts over William Gallas (calf), and fellow centre-back Younes Kaboul remains out with a knee injury.
Rangers are looking for their first back-to back Premier League wins since December 1995. Their tally of seven points from 10 home games this season is the worst in the division, and they have also scored the fewest goals (eight) and have the worst goal difference (minus-11) at home in the top-flight.
Spurs are looking for their fourth straight league win, and victory at Loftus Road would make it seven wins away from home this season - equaling the club's best in a Premier League season. The north London club have scored 22 goals on the road, second only to Manchester United's 26.
Tottenham came from behind to win 2-1 when these teams met at White Hart Lane back in September. Rangers won this fixture last season thanks to a goal by former Spurs player Adel Taarabt, who was later sent off in that game. Spurs have won just five of their 24 all-time visits to Loftus Road.
Updated January 10, 2013