QPR’s Traore targets Newcastle win and praises team-mate Mbia

Defender Armand Traore is hoping for more Christmas cheer when QPR kick off a hectic festive schedule of four games in 11 days against Newcastle on Saturday.

The Rs travel to St James’ Park off the back of their morale-boosting first win of the season against west London neighbours Fulham last weekend.

The morale-boosting victory helped Harry Redknapp’s side to finally climb off the bottom of the Premier League table and extended their unbeaten run to four games under the new boss.

Former Arsenal man Traore has become a regular starter under Redknapp and the 23-year-old is looking to build on the victory over Fulham as they battle to avoid the drop.

After going up against Newcastle, Rangers host West Brom on Boxing Day and Liverpool four days later before making the short trip across west London to face bitter rivals Chelsea.

And Traore believes QPR’s hopes of staying up could hinge on how many points they take from such a testing run of games.

“I think that we have to go to Newcastle and hopefully get something out of the game,” he said. “And I definitely think the West Brom game we can take the three points.

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“Then against Liverpool and Chelsea hopefully we can get something out of one of the games.” He added: “Whether it’s January, whether it’s Christmas, we have to pick up points.”

QPR have conceded just four goals in their last four games and Traore thinks the good form of defensive midfielder Stephane Mbia has been the key to their improvement.

Cameroon international Mbia was one of 11 new faces to arrive at Loftus Road during the summer and the former Marseille man - who can also play at centre back - has been deployed as a defensive shield by Redknapp.

The 26-year-old was hampered by injury when he joined the club and was also forced to serve a three-match suspension after he was sent off in the R’s 1-0 defeat to Arsenal back in October.

But he has started each of their last five games and team-mate Traore thinks he’s made a big impact in helping them tighten up at the back.

“We have to really focus, make sure the defence is solid,” said Traore. “I think that Stephane Mbia is doing a really good job in front of the defence.

“Sometimes the opposition team think they’re through against the defence but ‘bang!’ - he comes back.”

Rangers will be seeking their first success at St James’ Park since October 1993, when Jan Stejskal pulled off a last-minute penalty save from Malcolm Allen to secure a 2-1 victory, with Les Ferdinand and Bradley Allen on target for the visitors.

Last season Leon Best’s first half goal was enough to sentence QPR to defeat in their second game under Mark Hughes.