Hot-shot striker single-handedly changing QPR’s aims

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Of the top 10 goalscorers in the Premier League this season, none of them have been responsible for more of their team’s total goal tally than QPR’s Charlie Austin.

The former non-league striker has made a blistering start to his top-flight career, scoring a hat-trick against West Brom last time out to take his total to 11 for the season, and is almost single-handedly helping the Hoops stave off the threat of relegation.

Austin’s goals equate for 55 percent of QPR’s overall total in the Premier League, with the next highest figure from the top 10 coming in the form of Saido Berahino’s 41 percent for the Baggies.

That stat makes it abundantly clear that Harry Redknapp must wrap the 25-year-old frontman in cotton wool between games, as he is the difference separating the west Londoners from the rest of the drop-zone-threatened pack.

Thanks to Austin’s output, and a five-game unbeaten run at Loftus Road, Rangers are 17/10 to be relegated this season with Ladbrokes, a price that puts four other teams between them and the favourites’ tag.

The unbeaten home stand has been vitally important to QPR’s position of 15th in the league, as it has come against four sides that would expect to help fill the bottom 10 places in the division come May.

With away form looking like a lost cause for the club at present – Redknapp’s men don’t have a single road point to their name from eight outings – their results in front of their own fans take on far greater significance than normal, and with an asset like Austin banging them in, there’s plenty of reason for exuberance in their survival chances.

QPR face Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Swansea over the Christmas period, then have an almost even split of away games against the current bottom half of the league and home games against the top for the remainder of the season.

Should Austin continue his fantastic form, though, survival should be the least of their worries by then.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.