Hoops to hang on, and more predictions

Friday 4th January 2013 18:05

Taarabt: Key player for QPR

Taarabt: Key player for QPR

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TEAMtalk guest Jake Oxby rubs his crystal ball to predict five outcomes for the rest of the season - and foresees good news for QPR and Spurs.

The turn of the year is always a good time for making resolutions, and clubs up and down the country will be reassessing their targets for the season after coming through the hectic festive period.

Having considered the state of play at this juncture, and looked at what might pan out over the next few months, here's five forecasts that could be worth a flutter with the bookies.

QPR to avoid relegation

It's a big ask to keep the Super Hoops up, but Harry Redknapp's managerial record speaks for itself and he has experience of digging clubs out of relegation in previous years.

In the 1983/84 season, Redknapp saved Bournemouth from relegation and had similar success with Portsmouth in the 2005/06 Premier League campaign.

The news that star man Adel Taarabt will not be travelling to the African Cup of Nations is key to their survival hopes, but the magical Moroccan will not be able to do it alone.

Redknapp is infamous for his transfer wheelings and dealings that have helped his teams survive in the past and if he can bring in proven Premier League goalscorers on loan, as well as some steel in midfield such as Mohamed Diame, Rangers could well avoid the dreaded drop.

Manchester United to break Premier League goalscoring record

United's current tally of 54 goals in 21 matches suggests they are on the right track to beating Chelsea's Premier League goalscoring record of 103, set in the 2009/10 season.

Robin van Persie will want to edge out Luis Suarez to claim his second successive Golden Boot award and with the likes of Shinji Kagawa, Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick providing the ammunition, the Dutchman can expect plenty more goalscoring opportunities.

Wayne Rooney will want to reproduce the form that has seen him score 64 league goals in the previous three seasons, and Javier Hernandez is keen to show Sir Alex Ferguson he deserves a starting place in the United side.

So far this season, Rooney and Hernandez have added seven and eight goals respectively and 12 other squad players have also pitched in.

Historically, United are known for stepping it up in the second half of the campaign and at this rate, they are in a strong position to break Chelsea's record haul.

Tottenham to beat Chelsea to third place

Back in late September, Andre Villas-Boas became the first Tottenham manager in 23 years to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and he has the second-highest amount of away wins in the league in 2012/13 with six.

Rafael Benitez's Chelsea have won four of their last six games in the league, but will be without John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses during the African Cup of Nations, while Spurs might have to let Emmanuel Adebayor play for Togo.

The London rivals are neck and neck in the league, both scoring 39 goals and only being separated by a point. Should Spurs manage to bring in Brazilian duo Willian and Damiao to provide support for Jermain Defoe, there is every chance they can clinch third spot under AVB.

Begovic to win the Golden Glove

Stoke have the third best defensive record in the Premier League, having conceded 20 goals so far this season which puts them just behind Manchester City and Chelsea, who have both shipped 19.

Potters goalkeeper Asmir Begovic has contributed with nine clean sheets - the most shut-outs of any custodian in the Premier League.

The 6ft 5in Bosnian boasts a 79% save success rate, which is only bettered by Swansea's Gerhard Tremmel, and he has been influential in Stoke's success this season.

With Ryan Shawcross penning a new five-and-a-half-year deal and Tony Pulis insisting he will not sell any key players in the January transfer window, it will give Begovic and Stoke a great amount of confidence to continue their impressive defensive displays.

Leicester to gain automatic promotion from the Championship

The Foxes currently lie fifth in the second tier, nicely positioned amid the play-off pack. New £2million striker Chris Wood has joined David Nugent, Jamie Vardy and Anthony Knockaert to bolster City's frontline.

Leicester have the best goal difference in the league thanks to only conceding 23 goals this season, and it could be the deciding factor as to whether or not they can snatch an automatic promotion spot.

After Wood's two-goal debut on New Year's Day, I expect him to reproduce the form he displayed at Millwall in 2012 when he scored 11 goals in 19 appearances, and guide Leicester back to the top flight.

You can follow Jake on Twitter here,

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