|Preston North End 1 v 0 Queens Park Rangers|
Saturday, 4th August 2018 Kick-off 15:00
New look QPR side hunts rare Wolves victory – match preview
Friday, 16th Sep 2011 19:35 by Clive Whittingham
QPR travel to Molineux on Saturday with genuine hope and optimism following a raft of new signing and improved performance against Newcastle on Monday night.
Wolves (7th) v QPR (11th)
Barclays Premier League >>> Saturday September 17 >>> Kick Off 3pm >>> Molineux, Wolverhampton
The relentless nature of football means it’s unwise to dwell on what has gone before for too long. When your recent history reads like QPR’s does that’s actually a pretty good thing – a 3-0 LDV Vans Trophy defeat at Yeovil would be best forgotten even if it was the last match your team ever played. But some memories it seems a shame to leave behind. Sometimes, even following a team like QPR, there are moments you just never want to end.
Following a productive night of six-a-side football on Wednesday the LFW official photographer (not a salaried position) Neil dropped that week into conversation on the tube home. The sensation the mere mention of those glorious late April/early May days sent through me was amazing. It was like the football fan equivalent of talking dirty to each other, right there on the District Line.
That week, for the uninitiated, refers to the seven days at the end of last season where QPR first sealed the Championship title with an away win at Watford which was followed by the mother of all piss ups in Mabel’s Tavern; then the LoftforWords boys went and had the father of all piss ups the following day at the QPR Player of the Year dinner and dance that ended sometime around 4am with us peeling Matthew Connolly, the only man in a worse state than we were, off the floor; then we waited for six days while the FA held a ridiculously timed hearing to decide whether or not we could keep our hard won promotion; and finally it all ended with the granddaddy of all piss ups in the Green Room long into the night after the final match of the season when the decision fell in our favour. It was the best week of my life, and I realised it at the time. In a way it’s sad to think that at 27 (from Tuesday) I’m probably heading all downhill from here – never again will there be a seven days like that.
One of the regular topics of conversation that week between the six of us in the regular LFW travelling party, often conducted while leaning against each other and slurring, was what Premiership games we were looking forward to the most. And as you can imagine there were a lot of votes for Arsenal and Man City and Fulham and all the rest of it. Now, one thing you know before you come into the Premiership but don’t actually realise until you get here is there is a lot of mediocre drudge to wade through before you get to your big home game with Man Utd. And of course as the games against Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool and others are only likely to yield scraps for the likes of QPR, even allowing for our new additions, it’s this drudge that becomes the crucial part of the campaign. Sure look forward to Spurs at Loftus Road, but make sure you get a result against Blackburn in the meantime.
Despite Steve Kean’s best efforts at Ewood Park there are no easy matches in the Premiership- but there are a whole clutch of winnable ones and it’s your results in those that will determine whether or not you get to stay. This trip to Wolves didn’t figure too highly on the wish lists back in May but it is certainly one of those games where points must be attained if at all possible – QPR never used to win here in the league below and Wolves have started the season brightly which makes it a daunting prospect but we have a team that can more than compete in these games and we must approach them in a bold frame of mind.
A further reminder isn’t necessary given the amount of times I’ve written this already but QPR’s so called glamour fixtures have rather bunched together at the end of the season when we may well need points the most placing added significance on early fixtures like this. Having, for one reason or another, pissed points away in winnable games with Bolton, Wigan and Newcastle already a win here would be even more welcome than normal.
Team News: QPR are likely to select the same team that demolished Newcastle on Monday without scoring – the only doubt is over Armand Traore who left the field injured early in the second half. Neil Warnock seemed to intimate that the change was the result of cramp, although given the early time in the game and the fact that Traore had been playing for Arsenal before he arrived I find that difficult to believe. Matt Connolly stands by to replace him if he doesn't make it. DJ Campbell had a late outing against the Magpies from the bench after being layed low for more than a fortnight by a virus, he says he is now raring to go from the start but may have to make do with the bench again. Despite several missed chances in the last game Jay Bothroyd did lead the line well and is likely to start again.
You won't be surprised to hear that Kieron Dyer's mystery foot injury picked up just two minutes into his first (and potentially only) appearance for the R's shows no sign of clearing up so he remains sidelined along with Jamie Mackie – although the former Plymouth man could be back in training by the end of the month.
Wolves are already without a previous scourge of QPR Sylvain Ebanks Blake who is missing until the end of the month with an ankle injury. David Edwards is also out with a back complaint. But their main concerns surround England winger Matt Jarvis who has an ankle complaint and Scottish striker Steven Fletcher who has a groin complaint. Reading the news coming out of the Black Country this week it would seem Jarvis is likely to play, Fletcher possibly not although his participation could hang on a late fitness test at Molineux tomorrow.
Elsewhere: Well it seems that somebody at Sky has finally twigged that nobody in their right mind wants to sit in a pub on a Saturday lunchtime and watch Scottish football (if indeed it can be called football these days) and have scheduled a high end English match in that slot instead. Blackburn v Arsenal will be preceded by a protest march against manager Steve Kean by fans of the home team – in years gone by Rovers would bully points out of the Gunners at Ewood Park and the beleaguered Scot will be hoping the do so again.
Last weekend's "Super Sunday" offering of Blackburn at Fulham and Norwich v West Brom struggled to spark the viewers' imagination. For me it was probably the least super Sunday I've had since my ill-fated two weeks going out with a fat bird in my teens who invited me round for Sunday lunch with her family that turned out to be an extra large KFC Family Feast eaten in front of the Eastenders omnibus. She didn't last long. Anyway they're redeeming themselves this week (Sky, not the fat family from hell) with Spurs v Liverpool followed by Man Utd v Chelsea . Stoke will look to heap more misery on Sunderland boss Steve Bruce at the Stadium of Light but it's a tall order after a gruelling journey and match in the Ukraine on Thursday. When Fulham returned from that part of the world and headed immediately to the north east they were beaten 2-1 by Newcastle and we saw for ourselves just how poor they are on Monday.
Not a lot to catch the eye at 3pm on Saturday – Everton desperately need a home win against Wigan and showed signs of improvement last time out against Villa who now host Newcastle after getting out of jail with a late equaliser at Goodison Park. Swansea are yet to score a Premiership goal and will have all on against West Brom who were thoroughly good value for their win at fellow promoted side Norwich last week and could easily have taken points from both Man Utd and Chelsea in their daunting early games. Norwich are yet to win too and face a tough trip to Bolton .
Referee: Manchester's Anthony Taylor is the referee for this one – a man who has looked decidedly out of his depth on more than one occasion since being fast tracked to this level a year ago. This is his first Premiership game of the season but he's been very busy with his notebook already – booking 13 and sending three off in two matches refereed so far. The three reds and seven of the yellows came at Leeds v Boro in the Championship. Leeds boss Simon Grayson confronted the referee in his dressing room after that match where Leeds captain Johnny Howson was one of the players sent off – despite Taylor initially ruling that he had been sinned against. After signalling for a Leeds free kick he went to see if the Boro player involved, Marvin Emnes, was alright and when it turned out he wasn't he reversed the decision, awarded the free kick to Boro and sent Howson off. His last QPR fixture was a 2-2 draw at West Brom when Steve Gallen and Marc Bircham were the caretaker managers after the Jim Magilton head butt saga. Click here for Taylor 's full case file.
Wolves: A 2-0 home defeat by Spurs last time out halted an impressive start to the season by Mick McCarthy's men. Having won just one of their first ten matches last season when they ended up surviving relegation by the skin of their teeth thanks to other results on the last day they clearly wanted to make a better fist of this year's August and September spell and quickly clocked up two wins and a draw from their first three games, plus a League Cup hammering of Northampton. But there is hope for Rangers here – the wins came against a Blackburn side that looks nailed on for relegation and at home to notoriously awful travellers Fulham. Wolves now haven't scored for two and a half league games and Spurs, themselves making a poor start to the season, made light work of a 2-0 win here last week.
Wolves have only lost one of the last 15 meetings between these sides but the last top flight meeting between the two on this ground finished 4-0 to the R's back in 1984. One of those odd little stats that sometimes crop up – QPR, along with Arsenal, have used the most players of any team in the league this season so far (26). Wolves meanwhile have only started 12 different players – the fewest in the competition.
QPR: Rangers, like Wolves, are struggling somewhat for goals with just one scored in five matches in all competitions so far this season. Adel Taarabt has already stormed to the top of his favourite stats league – shots without scoring (16). QPR also have the worst shots to goal ratio in the top flight having had 50 attempts for just that one goal by Tommy Smith at Everton. It's more than 360 minutes of action since that little beauty went in at Goodison Park . Still, it could be worse, Swansea haven't scored at all yet and Rangers have at least kept two clean sheets in three league matches since crashing 4-0 on the opening day of the season with a totally different starting eleven to the one we will field on Saturday. Rangers handed out six debuts against Newcastle on Monday - no team has ever given a debut to so many players in a Premiership match that wasn't the first game of a season in the league's history. It's no surprise therefore to find high scoring matches thin on the ground with Rangers this season – no game involving the R's has featured more than two goals, and we're yet to see a game where both teams score. QPR's record on this ground is not good, two wins in ten visits, and Neil Warnock has only won one of ten managerial meetings with them as well.
Betting: Well clearly seeing my lousy predictions week after week and the Betting Column suddenly losing money hand over fist was too much for some – Owen Goulding, odds compiler for a major High Street bookmaker, got in touch last week offering up some more educated form and tips than we normally provide and duly delivered this week with the following.
QPR fans will be eagerly anticipating the journey to the Black Country after an excellent display against Newcastle on Monday. Having studied the match, one particular statistic from each of the team's last games stands out. Wolverhampton conceded 16 efforts to Tottenham, whereas QPR also had 16 efforts on goal against the Magpies. A total of two goals was scored between these games, but having watched both, it is hard to argue that there could of been treble this amount. I am therefore interested in the total goals market, and the general 11/10 available on Over 2.5 goals certainly appeals.
On the goal scorer front, the performance of SWP certainly suggested goals to come. With Wolves defence likely to consist of the physical, yet less than mobile trio of Berra, Roger Johnson and Stearman it is likely that Bothroyd will struggle to have the immense impact he had aerially against Newcastle. However, it could prove just the game for the pace and movement of players such as SWP and Taarabt. Therefore I am suggesting a small bet on SWP to score at anytime at a current price of 5/1 with Blue Square .
Bet of the day - Over 2.5 goals, Wolves v QPR 11/10 (generally available)
Prediction: The LFW's predictions have never been so scientifically put together – more done on gut feeling than anything else and usually spectacularly wrong. For what it's worth I don't think Wolves will lose two home games in a row at Molineux, I don't think QPR will go on for much longer without scoring and I do believe our new look team may be better suited to away games than home in many ways. All that nonsense points me towards…
1-1 draw, 11/2 available generally.
Richard Langley is the latest former R to follow @loftforwords on Twitter. There’s been talk of live Tweets from the match tomorrow so come on, get stuck in.
Photo: Action Images
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