By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
Manchester City v QPR
Saturday 5.30pm – ESPN
Did you know, Manchester City won last season’s league title by beating QPR on the last day of last season?
Of course you knew, because every ESPN ad we’ve seen this week has shoved it down our throats. Apart from bringing back pleasant memories of a stunning finish to the season, there’s no connection between that match and events this Saturday evening.
City were and are better than that wonderfully scrappy victory suggests. It’s hard to get away from the fact that they got a dose of stage-fright that involved more than just not being able to pee in front of a stranger. The champions haven’t been hugely impressive as they begin the defence of their title, but they’ve shown plenty of fighting spirit to get point when they’re not playing well. They were able to up it when required against Southampton and ended up containing Liverpool thanks to capitalising on the hosts’ generousity.
The threat of relegation and their lucrative contracts becoming less lucrative worked wonders for the Rs on that day, but they’ve begun the new season with a similar lethargy that got them into trouble last term. They were trounced by Swansea and held at Norwich. It’s not time to hit the ejector button on Mark Hughes’s seat, but for the money Tony Fernandes has invested in players, the results will need to improve rapidly. On paper, the club look to have done well on the transfer merry-go-round, but the signs are it may take a while before this translates to success on the pitch.
If everything goes to plan, City should be too good for QPR and run out winners, but Mark Hughes’s lingering sense of rejection will inspire his players to make life very difficult for their hosts.
The ‘I don’t like giving predictions’ prediction: Manchester City to win by exactly one goal @ 16/5