Premier League preview: Newcastle United v Queens Park Rangers
Newcastle United will look to arrest a dreadful run of form when they host strugglers QPR in the English Premier League on Saturday.
After finishing fifth in the 2011-12 campaign, Alan Pardew's men have been unable to reproduce their form this season and after 17 matches, sit 15th, just two points above the relegation zone.
Newcastle have won just one of their last 11 matches in all competitions while their away form is particularly concerning, with the club last having tasted victory on the road in May.
Midfielder Chieck Tiote is set to miss a chunk of January on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Ivory Coast but Pardew will be appreciative that Senegal – the country of Newcastle's two first-choice strikers, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse – did not qualify.
Ba has been in superb form this season and has netted 11 Premier League goals, leaving him behind only Swansea's Michu and Manchester United's Robin van Persie on the scoring charts.
Newcastle have only scored eight goals that have not come from Ba though and such a reliance on one player will have the club's supporters concerned.
They should take heart from a fighting 3-1 defeat at home to Manchester City last week, with Newcastle putting in a good second half display against the champions who were in imperious form throughout the match.
QPR are even worse off than Newcastle, sitting second-bottom on the table with just 10 points from 17 matches.
They have improved recently, with Harry Redknapp's arrival as manager coinciding with a four-match unbeaten run.
And after seven draws this campaign, the Loftus Road outfit won for the first time this season with a 2-1 success against Fulham last week.
Key to that victory was a double from exciting Moroccan midfielder Adel Taarabt, who has the talent to help drag QPR out of the relegation zone.
Taarabt is supported by the likes of Stephane M'Bia, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Alejandro Faurlin in an impressive midfield, while Redknapp has put his faith in experienced campaigners Ryan Nelsen and Clint Hill at the heart of defence.
Scoring goals has been a problem for QPR all season – they have only netted an equal league-worst 15 times – and long-term injuries to Bobby Zamora (thigh) and Andy Johnson (knee) have not helped.
Redknapp is likely to bolster his attacking options in the transfer market when a new window opens on January 1.
The last time the two sides met, Newcastle won 1-0 in January thanks to Leon Best's first-half goal.
QPR last tasted victory against Newcastle in February 1995.
Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring) is in doubt for the match for Newcastle, while Steven Taylor (hamstring) and Yohan Cabaye (groin) are longer-term casualties. Joining Zamora and Johnson on the sidelines for QPR is Park Ji-Sung (knee).