Preview: QPR v Liverpool — Timely returns but injury doubts for Reds

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Another disruptive international break has passed and the Reds finally make a welcome return to action in West London, where they’ll take on Queens Park Rangers. Ben Twelves looks ahead to the clash.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 10, 2014: Liverpool's players line up for a team group photograph before a preseason friendly match against Borussia Dortmund at Anfield. Back row L-R: Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Daniel Sturridge. Front row L-R: Philippe Coutinho Correia, captain Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Javier Manquillo, Raheem Sterling. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)
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15 days after recording a much needed win over West Bromwich Albion at Anfield, Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool return to Premier League action on Sunday afternoon, when they take on bottom of the league QPR at Loftus Road.

After getting October off to a positive start, the Reds head to the capital looking to record back-to-back victories for the first time this season at the fourth time of asking, and also in hope of setting themselves up for a far more productive month on the pitch than September turned out to be.

Liverpool – who begin a tough schedule of seven games in 21 days – face a kinder fixture list of Premier League matches, but also take on Swansea in the Capital One Cup and face their toughest game in years in the Champions League with a mammoth tie against Real Madrid at Anfield.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 19, 2013: Liverpool's Jamie Carragher applauds the supporters as he is substituted in his 737th and last game for the club during the final Premiership match of the 2012/13 season against Queens Park Rangers at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s been two seasons since the two clubs met – the last match being the final game of the 2012/13 season and of Jamie Carragher’s Liverpool career. Last time out at Loftus Road however, the Reds strolled to a comfortable 3-0 win in December 2012 – a match that saw Rodgers absent due to a virus.

Assistant manager Colin Pascoe and first-team coach Mike Marsh took charge that afternoon and oversaw the easy win. Luis Suarez scored a quick-fire double after just 16 minutes of the match to hand the Reds an early 2-0 lead, and Daniel Agger then added a third just before the half hour mark with a glanced header past Julio Cesar in the Rangers’ goal.

 

Team News

The international break was slightly more forgiving this time around as the Reds suffered only two injury scares with Dejan Lovren and Lazar Markovic. Their availability for Sunday’s game remains to be seen, but Rodgers did say he was hopeful of Lovren playing in his pre-match press conference at Melwood on Friday.

Lovren’s potential unavailability along with Mamadou Sakho’s means Rodgers now only has two fit centre backs at his disposal in Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure – whose only match action this season has come against Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup.

Much better news is that that the Liverpool boss is hopeful of having Joe Allen, Emre Can and Daniel Sturridge all fit to return to the match-day set-up for the game, providing a welcome boost as the Reds have clearly missed them.

Rodgers revealed in his press conference that the club will assess Sturridge on Saturday in regards his involvement at Loftus Road.

Provisional squad: Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno, Gerrard, Henderson, Lallana, Sterling, Sturridge, Balotelli, Jones, Toure, Manquillo, Enrique, Sakho, Lucas, Allen, Can, Coutinho, Markovic, Lambert, Borini.

 

Opposition

After guiding the club to promotion back to the top flight in a dramatic play-off final at Wembley, Harry Redknapp’s QPR have once again struggled to get to grips with the brutality of Premier League football, despite an extremely busy recruitment project in the summer transfer window.

The London club shipped out 10 first team players and also brought in the same number. Among those who departed included Park Ji-Sung, Julio Cesar, Esteban Granero, and one time Liverpool transfer target’s Loic Remy and Luke Young.

QPR then turned to Rio Ferdinand, Steven Caulker, Leroy Fer, Sandro, Niko Krancjar, Mauricio Isla and others to keep them in the division, and the two clubs conducted some transfer business in the summer with Jack Robinson heading south and of course Fabio Borini – a  move which the player resisted.

Despite the whole host of signings, the Loftus Road outfit have won only once so far this season – a 1-0 victory over Sunderland back in August thanks to Charlie Austin’s goal – and as a result, they find themselves sitting rock bottom of the table.

Sunday’s opponents have scored only four times this season – the second lowest in the league – and only Everton have conceded more than Redknapp’s side who have shipped 15 goals in seven games.

The R’s will be looking to transform their on pitch fortunes on Sunday however, hoping to record a victory over Liverpool for the second time in three meetings in London.

After a week off from the Sky Sports spotlight last time out, Liverpool return to live broadcast on Sunday as the match will be shown on Sky Sports 1 with kick off coming at 13:30pm.

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