QPR v Swansea
August 18, 3pm, Loftus Road
It is hard to pick out a standout team in the Premier League last season. Manchester City has to be mentioned for finally nabbing their first league title in 44 years while Newcastle United did the unexpected and finished in the Europa League spots.
However, there will not have been very many football fans who would have expected Swansea City to be within a point of a top-half finish.
Brendan Rodgers, who masterminded the Swans’ shock attack on the Premier League’s elite, has since left for pastures new at Liverpool and Michael Laudrup is now in control. New signings Chico Flores, Jonathan de Guzman, Michu and Kyle Bartley are available for selection.
Laudrup’s first challenge is to lead his team to Loftus Road and try to record victory against a Queens Park Rangers squad who are recovering after barely surviving an exhilarating relegation scrap.
Mark Hughes has been swift to try to patch up holes in his side, bringing in established Premier League players such as Park Ji-Sung, Fabio, Ryan Nelsen, Junior Hoilett, Robert Green and Andrew Johnson to link up with the likes of Bobby Zamora and Djibril Cisse. Joey Barton begins his 12-match suspension ahead of a reported loan move to Marseille. Jamie Mackie and Armand Traore are injured.
With such a formidable squadlist, at least on paper, Paddy Power’s price of 12/5 for QPR to be leading at half time and full time has to catch the eye. There are also tasty odds of 13/5 on offer for fans who are confident that Swansea will snatch victory at Loftus Road.