Queens Park Rangers-Swansea City Preview
By CHRIS ALTRUDA
(AP) -- LONDON (SE) -- Michu made a grand Premier League debut to lead Swansea City to a rampaging victory at Loftus Road over Queens Park Rangers to start the season.
The Swans would certainly welcome an encore performance Saturday at the Liberty Stadium at the expense of the cellar dwellers to further solidify their status in the top half of the table.
Michu came to the Welsh team from Rayo Vallecano after leading all midfielders in La Liga with 15 goals in 2011-12. He scored two goals and assisted on the final tally by Scott Sinclair as Swansea City (8-10-7) stormed to a 5-0 victory on Aug. 18, the biggest victory by either side in the series.
The Spaniard struck for 13 goals in the Swans' first 18 matches, but has been stuck there in a six-match goalless drought. Swansea had taken points from the first five matches without Michu scoring, but the offence may be a concern after being blanked for the second consecutive match with last Saturday's 1-0 loss at West Ham that ended a seven-match unbeaten run.
"We were in possession, we played some good stuff," defender Ashley Williams told the team's official website. "It was a bit like Sunderland (a 0-0 draw) in midweek where we didn't score - and we can't go back to doing that."
With 34 points, the Swans are eight behind Everton for the Premier League's direct Europa League qualifying spot, but they can also qualify by winning the League Cup against Bradford on Feb. 24 at Wembley Stadium. Swansea have taken points in 10 of 12 home matches this year, but have conceded at least one goal in five consecutive matches there.
As Swansea try to find their bearings, Queens Park Rangers (2-11-12) have had little to show for their improved play since Harry Redknapp was brought on to salvage the season. Rangers are unbeaten in five matches (1-4-0) but still five points from safety and enter this match bottom of the Premier League table on 17 points. Their total of 18 goals scored is also the lowest in the league.
Redknapp's charges played to their fourth successive draw last Saturday, a scoreless result at Loftus Road versus Norwich City that extended their strong run of play on defence. The Rangers have given up only one goal during their unbeaten run but also haven't scored in the last two matches - having seen Adel Taarabt's penalty stopped by Canaries goalkeeper Mark Bunn.
"It's a disappointing result because we need wins but we've got to stay positive," forward Jamie Mackie told the side's official website. "We're not getting beat, we're not shipping goals in, so we've got to take the plusses from that."
Taarabt has been the focal point of QPR's offence - or lack thereof - scoring or assisting on eight of the 18 goals.
QPR have only one road win, but that 1-0 triumph over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Jan. 2 kick-started their improved run of play. They've taken points in four of their last five away matches after totalling just one in the first seven.
Swansea have a five-match home unbeaten streak over QPR since a 2-1 defeat in January 1981, claiming three wins and two draws. QPR have 18 wins in the overall series to Swansea's 11, and the teams have 12 draws, including a 1-1 deadlock in last season's corresponding fixture.
Updated February 7, 2013