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Queens Park Rangers are a good wager to least draw with Villa

Redknapp's side are in their best form of season as they try to make it three wins in succession

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 March, 2013, 3:47am

While Manchester United hold a 12-point advantage at the top of the English Premier League, only 10 points cover the 11 teams from 10th to 20th and this weekend there are three key clashes where teams from that group will be hoping to make their position more secure.

The big match is Aston Villa v QPR, 17th versus 20th, and the great escape will really be on for Harry Redknapp if he can conjure another victory from his Rangers side.

QPR have won their last two games - 3-1 at home to Sunderland and 2-1 at Southampton - and have lost only two out of nine this year (against Manchester United and Swansea).

Comparing their record this year against the other teams in the bottom 11, QPR rank second-best behind Newcastle. That form suggests QPR can get at least a draw at Villa, who have won only three out of 14 at home and have not kept a clean sheet in their last 13 league games.

QPR have lost only two of the 10 games in which they have scored under Redknapp and Loic Remy, with three goals in four starts, could be the man to fire them to victory.

Remy has been the first QPR scorer in each of his scoring matches and his only blanks in five Premier League appearances were against the two Manchester clubs.

QPR on the handicap and over 2.5 goals are the bets that appeal most.

The other head-to-heads among the bottom 11 are Sunderland v Norwich and Wigan v Newcastle. Norwich don't often win but are resilient, which makes their game tough to call, and the best bet might be Newcastle, who are probably the classiest side in the large group of also-rans.

Newcastle were in the higher group last season and their involvement in the Europa League - which has put strain on an injury-hit squad - largely explains their fall from those heights.

They are improving steadily after Alan Pardew bolstered his squad in January and the major doubt about them tomorrow is whether they will have recovered from Thursday's exertions in the Europa League.

With that in mind, Newcastle on the handicap looks the best way to play.

Stoke have been the worst team among the bottom 11 this year, with seven defeats and just one win in nine matches, and this looks a good time for West Brom to visit the Britannia. Steve Clarke's side have rediscovered their early-season form with three wins in their last four matches and overall they have lost only three out of 14 against bottom-half sides.

A draw is possible, with West Brom the handicap pick.

The early kick-off between Everton and Manchester City is tough to call, with both sides looking hard to beat but neither convincing enough for the win. City have lost only one out of 10 against top-eight sides (at home to United) but recent away performances have been unimpressive.

Everton have lost only one out of six at home against top-eight sides and could be worth a shot on the handicap.

The Brendan Rodgers project at Liverpool has spluttered along at times this season but now his team is developing into one of the form sides of the Premier League and they should continue the upward surge with victory at Southampton.

Last week's 3-2 home win over Tottenham was a clear sign of improvement at the elite level and they have solid all-round form now.

Most of Liverpool's dropped points this year have been against teams above them in the table, with the only exception being the 2-0 home defeat by West Brom, and their record has been strong all season against lesser sides like Southampton.

Liverpool have won eight out of 11 against the bottom six, scoring in every match and having a goal difference of 28 goals to seven. On the road they have won three out of four in that category, with the last three matches ending 5-2 (at Norwich), 3-0 (at QPR) and 4-0 (at Wigan).

Southampton are in danger of slipping back into the relegation zone under new manager Mauricio Pochettino despite winning plaudits for their performances against the two Manchester clubs. The 3-1 home win over City is their only victory for Pochettino and since then they have lost 4-2 at Newcastle and 2-1 at home to QPR and had a goalless draw at Norwich.

It is difficult to argue Southampton are any better now than they were under Nigel Adkins and, with only five clean sheets in 29 league games, they are unlikely to stop Liverpool.


Best Bets

  1. QPR on handicap Solid improvement under Harry Redknapp
  2. Liverpool away win Attack looks too strong for leaky Southampton
  3. Hamburg home win Have won four of their last five at home to bottom-half sides
  4. Atletico Madrid away win 13 wins out of 16 against teams outside the top eight
  5. Getafe home win Good odds against poor travellers Bilbao



QPR, Liverpool, Leeds, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Atletico Madrid, Getafe.



11pm unless stated: Aston Villa v QPR, Everton v Manchester City (8.45pm), Southampton v Liverpool, Stoke v West Brom, Swansea v Arsenal, Manchester United v Reading (1.30am Sun).

Chelsea v West Ham (midnight), Sunderland v Norwich (9.30pm), Tottenham v Fulham, Wigan v Newcastle (midnight).