Can Sunderland finally end their home hoodoo with the defeat of Queens Park Rangers? There’s a compelling argument that this is the weekend they will. Rangers are 16th and without an away win this season, while Sunderland looked reinvigorated at Preston and the return of Duncan Watmore to the fold is an inestimable boost, even if he doesn’t start the match, which he is unlikely to.
Those players away on international duty have all returned unscathed and with Jonny Williams fit, though obviously disappointed that Wales failed to qualify for the World Cup, the home game against QPR gives him the perfect opportunity to run that out of his system. Even if he doesn’t start the match, he is sure to be involved at some point. Aiden McGeady again proved what an asset he is with his performance at Deepdale.
There are a few in the QPR team that are no strangers to Simon Grayson. Alex Baptiste, Joel Lynch and Alex Smithies all played for him at Blackpool or Huddersfield. One player to keep an eye on is summer signing David Wheeler who began the season with Exeter City. The winger cum forward played for Exeter at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland’s 6-3 League Cup win and scored for the League Two outfit, and could well come back into Ian Holloway’s starting line-up this weekend.
Ian Holloway has, of course, a strong pedigree at this level having managed a number of teams in this division though his Rangers side have faltered of late with no win since a 2-1 home win over Ipswich at the beginning of September. More tellingly, though, Queens Park Rangers have not won away since a 4-1 win at Birmingham in February. One can hark back to QPR’s last season in the Premier League when in 2015 they arrived at the Stadium without an away win all season only to leave with three points after a 2-0 victory, but I sense this weekend the tables may be turned on the West Londoners.