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Preview: Can It Be London If Its Not Wembley?

We're headed south again. No, not THERE, but to Loftus Road. The Premier League is all that matters remember.

Mark Thompson

Sunderland Team News

Gus Poyet has a number of options to consider after the midweek win over Birmingham City in the Capital One Cup.

Adam Johnson recovered from illness to score on his return, and it is highly likely that he will retain his position, whilst an encouraging finish to the game will make the cases for both Jordi Gomez and the almost fit-again Emanuele Giaccherini. However, Will Buckley will be hoping that his performance against Manchester United has earned him a place in the side.

The one area that could be up for change is centre-forward - as Steven Fletcher's laboured display on Sunday could see Connor Wickham moved to the focal point of attack.

Vito Mannone, Patrick van Aaholt, Lee Cattermole and Jack Rodwell are all likely to return after being rested in midweek.

Queens Park Rangers Team News

Harry Redknapp veered from his three-at-the-back experiment on Wednesday night to little joy - as League Two side Burton Albion progressed to the third round at the London club's expense - so it remains to be seen just how Rangers will approach this game.

Alejandro Faurlin suffered another ACL injury in the Capital One Cup tie, and so Leroy Fer is likely to retain his place from the defeat to Tottenham Hotspur and make his home debut.

Charlie Austin faces a late fitness test on a hamstring injury. Should he fail to pass then Matt Phillips could partner Loic Remy in attack.

Predicted Lineups

Queens Park Rangers vs Sunderland - Football tactics and formations

SAFC: Mannone; Vergini, Brown, O'Shea, van Aaholt; Cattermole; Johnson, Rodwell, Larsson, Buckley; Wickham

QPR: Green; Caulker, Ferdinand, Dunne; Isla, Barton, Mutch, Fer, Hoilett; Phillips, Remy

Key Matchup: Connor Wickham vs Steven Caulker

The last time the pair met, Wickham recorded a unanimous victory with two goals and a commanding showing against the then-Cardiff City centre-back.

Even if Wickham is not deployed as a centre-forward, then it is likely that his starting left-sided position will see him attack Caulker should QPR retain faith in a back three. Caulker finds himself at a new club, in a system where he does not seem entirely comfortable.

From there, it is important that Wickham utilises his strength and direct mind-set to potentially isolate Caulker from his defensive partners - whether it be for himself or to create space for his team-mates to attack.

Recent Form: LLL

Loss: Queens Park Rangers 0-1 Hull City (Chester 52)

Loss: Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 Queens Park Rangers (Chadli 12, 37, Dier 30, Adebayor 65)

Loss: Burton Albion 1-0 Queens Park Rangers (McGurk 77)

Last Time Around: Queens Park Rangers 3-1 Sunderland, 09/03/2013

One of the final straws for Martin O'Neill's reign in charge, his side had taken the lead through Steven Fletcher before Loic Remy levelled.

Late goals followed, as did misery. It would be one of eight games without a win before O'Neill was replaced by Paolo Di Canio.

The Ref: Robert Madley

The game will be the West Yorkshire man's first Premier League duty of the season having officiated two Championship fixtures thus far.

In the past two seasons, Madley has only oversaw two Sunderland games - last season's 1-0 win over Stoke City and a 2-0 Capital One Cup success over Morecambe the previous campaign.

Given this part of the preview is usually bemoaning our fortune with certain officials, hopefully a 100% record with this one can be maintained.

What The Managers Said

Gus Poyet

We're in good shape. There are no excuses as we're strong. We're not the biggest group but that makes it easier to be together. People are pushing for places and the idea is to go there and win.

We had a good 45 minutes against West Brom, Manchester United and Birmingham City in the Capital One Cup. I want to extend that to an hour, 75 minutes to give us a great chance to win. We got good results playing well for just 45 minutes but we need to extend that.

Harry Redknapp

It's important we forget about [Wednesday] as quickly as possible and focus on Saturday's game with Sunderland which is massive now.

We need to get up and running in the league as soon as possible.

Roker Report Predicts

A first league win...for Sunderland. Both sides are still searching for their first three-pointer, but the Black Cats look a more settled, cohesive unit. Whilst that may not say much for Gus Poyet's side considering QPR's early season form, they are still to find the rhythm that lead to their great escape last season.

Despite the home side's defensive issues, they have potential match-winners in Remy and reported Sunderland target Jordon Mutch - although Lee Cattermole's defensive responsibility kept the latter quiet in their most recent meeting. With that in mind, we'll go for a 2-1 away win.

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