Bill's Take: Can The Rams Give Rangers A Kick Up The R's?
Thursday, 15th May 2014 15:19 by Bill Riordan
Having had more fun in the second leg of the playoff semi-final than any team or its fans are supposed to have, the Rams are rewarded with a trip to Wembley for the final against QPR a week from Saturday.
It’s more or less what I wanted and expected to happen: I would rather have QPR in the final than the semi, which at one time looked possible, and my preference was always to get Brighton in the semi.
So what now to expect at Wembley?
In the first quarter or so of the season, QPR looked like the team to beat in the Championship. In their first 11 Championship matches, they put together a record of P11 - W8 - D3 - L0 - F14 - A4 – Total Points: 27.
Rangers’ points total included a run of eight Championship matches without conceding a goal. It was early days yet, but at that point I was already looking at QPR to take one of the automatic promotion places in May.
Of course, as Rams fans, that was of little concern to us at that time; we had problems of our own to worry about. As a reminder, the Rams record over those first eleven games was P11 - W4 - D3 - L4 - F21 - A18 – Total Points: 15.
We were 12 points behind QPR. It was our defeat at Loftus Road in early November that immediately preceded our run of seven successive Championship wins that made the playoffs first start to look like a possibility.
In the meantime, by finishing five points ahead of Rangers, in total the Rams overhauled them by 17 points over the course of the remaining three-quarters of the season.
As to current form, the last 10 games for QPR - including the playoff semis - have yielded three wins, four draws and three defeats. In comparison The Rams' last ten have produced eight wins, one draw and one defeat, at the Riverside. There can be no question that current form favours the Rams, and this match is coming at just the right time for us.
So what do QPR have going for them? My mental image of them had always been of a team full of quality and Premier League experience, but that doesn't seem to be translating into results.
The short answer is that they have a tight defence and Charlie Austin. Only Leicester, Burnley and Brighton conceded fewer than Rangers' 44 goals against, although that's less impressive considering they let in only 4 in their first 11 matches.
Rangers 60 goals scored were fewer than anybody in the top half except Ipswich and Brighton. Charlie Austin was by far their leading scorer, with 17 in 28 starts; the only other likely scorer is Ravel Morrison with 6 in 14 starts.
Looking at appearances by Rangers players, I see a team that has chopped and changed a great deal, and perhaps that is their problem. The regulars throughout the season have only been Richard Dunne, Rob Green and Clint Hill; all defenders.
It seems to me that their similar records might lead us to expect Rangers to have a somewhat similar approach to Brighton. They will almost certainly be more aggressive and tenacious, and provide a more physical test. But if the Rams avoid any first half nerves, and slip in to the style of play we know they are capable of producing, the match should have the right outcome.
We might even be able to look forward to giving them a good kick up the R's.
(With apologies to QPR fanzine 'A Kick Up The R's')
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