The day after Christmas brings Arsenal a present in the form of a home fixture against their fellow Londoners, QPR, who find themselves on the lip of the drop zone just four months after re-entering the Premier League. But they're not currently the worst Prem team in London; QPR sits in 16th compared to Palace's 17th, in large part thanks to three wins in their last six games over the mighty trio of Leicester, Burnley, and West Brom. (And those were all home games.)
Some things to know about this match:
1. Harry Redknapp hates Christmas. In 2009, Tottenham players (under his managerial watch) had a secret Christmas party in Dublin, flew back, and promptly lost 1-0 to Wolves. In 2012, Redknapp took over QPR, cancelled the team Christmas party as one of his first actions, and the team still got relegated. This year, Redknapp again nixed the Western World's most magical day to help his team focus on its relegation scrap, saying, among other things:
I think they understand the pitfalls of going out. You've only got to be closing your eyes and someone has got a picture of you making it look like you're drunk. It's not worth the hassle.
(See: Pretty much every photo taken of Harry Redknapp.)
2. Joey Barton has been critical of Alexis Sanchez, but no longer. The QPR midfielder (one of the most jolly and lovable players in the Prem), once took to Twitter to say, regarding Arsenal's new magic man, "Yes, on his day he can light up a game, but, as anyone who has watched Barca will tell you, his good games are as common as his bad." But he's recently changed his mind, telling the Mirror in a recent story, "He’s taken to this league like a duck to water. I rightly get caned by all the Arsenal fans on Twitter every time he has a good game or scores a goal." Alexis even features in Barton's fantasy football team, though it was Barton's real-life teammate Charlie Austin who scored a hat trick last week, lifting Barton's two teams to victory.
3. Austin has been the most impressive player for QPR this season, by far, at 11 goals and counting. Midfielder and #10 wearer Leroy Fer has 2 goals, and a smattering of other players have a single goal. The team's collective 20 goals don't put them on the anemic levels of a Villa or a Burnley, but thanks to the comedy goalie stylings of Robert Green, they've also let in 32 for the year, leading to a -12 goal differential, placing them among the league's most craptastic teams -- meaning, if there's a game out of the next three to rest starters, this is probably the one.
One last QPR tidbit: This is what they sound like reading "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."