|Queens Park Rangers 1 v 2 Sheffield Wednesday|
Monday, 17th April 2017 Kick-off 15:00
QPR looking to snap another losing run – Preview
Sunday, 16th Apr 2017 19:44 by Clive Whittingham
QPR, who lost six in a row earlier this season, go into Easter Monday’s home game with striker-laden Sheffield Wednesday on a run of four consecutive defeats.
QPR (14-8-20, DWLLLL, 17th) v Sheff Wed (21-9-12, LLDWWW, 6th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Monday April 17, 2017 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Overcast >>> Loftus Road, London, W12
I did think it would be absolutely typical, pure QPR for them to finally string a dangerous attack together after 80 minutes of punting it long to Matt Smith at Bristol City on Friday only for the play to be stopped because one of the tired and emotional travelling brethren had taken a wrong turn and wandered into the penalty box.
Luckily, if that’s the word, that move went the way of everything before it. Now, listen to me QPR, we’re trying to have a nice relaxing end of the season here – drinking by the river in Bristol, drinking by the river in Richmond, drinking by the river in Norwich, that sort of thing. Bit of sun maybe, supporter wandering onto the pitch in the name of comedy, treating the late train back from Temple Meads to a passionate rendition of Shakespeare’s Sister. Is it too much to ask for you to do your bloody bit?
I guess we’re seeing why managers rarely talk about anything other than the next match. Set footballers a target, 50 points in QPR’s case, and they presume the sport is completed forever if they reach it. Rangers haven’t so much relaxed as died on their arse.
It should, should, still be fine. Only Peterborough and Wolves have been relegated from this league with more than 50 points and QPR would have to lose their final four games, taking the losing run to eight straight, to end on that total. If they do that, having lost six in a row over Christmas, they deserve everything they get but it probably, probably, still wouldn’t see them drop. For it to happen, in addition, we need all of the following…
Blackburn, who've won one out of their last nine, would have to win three of the last four: Bristol City H, Wolves A, Villa H, Brentford A
Burton, who've won two of their last ten, will have to win two of their last four: Birmingham A, Leeds H, Barnsley A, Reading H.
Forest, who've won two of their last 12, will have to win two of their last four: Cardiff A, Reading H, QPR A, Ipswich H.
Birmingham, who've won two of their last 23 and none of their last eight and couldn't beat Rotherham on Friday, need a win and a draw from their last four: Burton H, Villa A, Huddersfield H, Bristol City A.
Bristol City, who are in decent form to be fair, need a win and a draw from four: Blackburn A, Barnsley H, Brighton A, Birmingham H.
All of this is complicated by the fact a lot of these teams are playing each other. I presume the doom-mongers are saying that Blackburn will beat Bristol City as will Birmingham, leaving only two games for City to get their four points. If Burton beat Birmingham then Birmingham only have three games, including away at Villa, to get their points. If Birmingham beat Burton then Burton only have three games to get their points. Birmingham with only two wins since December, had a punch up during their warm down at Rotherham on Friday – I fancy them if Blackburn are going to get out of this.
But it’s such a shame to even be talking about this after that great form through March. April did always look tough on paper, and while QPR were poor at Bristol City and Derby they could easily have taken something from Villa and Brighton at home. But to see that momentum, optimism and positivity from a month ago draining away like this is really sad. That performance at Leeds where Freeman, Wszolek and Luongo were so good, and Birmingham where Freeman and Manning ran the game, gave real hope for next season. Now here we are a couple of weeks down the line bypassing our most talented players with Nedum ‘Dan Marino’ Onuoha spraying it in the vague direction of Matt Smith.
I’m still in the mindset that this season is done, we’re safe, and all of this is preparation for next season. But even then, it would be nice to see much more than we were treated to on Friday. Monday won’t be easy, with Sheffield Wednesday bringing a squad south that has striking options including Jordan Rhodes, Sam Winnall, Gary Hooper, Steven Fletcher and Fernado Forestieri – all of whom would be the best striker at QPR but three of whom will be on the bench at best for tomorrow’s visitors. That doesn’t mean they’re infallible though, and they’re under pressure from Fulham for that final play-off spot, so it would be nice to see QPR play with a bit of freedom, play with a bit of attacking intent, play through the midfield…
Hell, just play at all after Friday’s no-show.
A rare, but typically brilliant, goal from Ray Wilkins sends the Loft End while in a game against Sheff Wed from Christmas 1991. Although Rangers couldn’t get a second despite dominating, and indeed conceded an equaliser to David Hirst in injury time, this was Gerry Francis’ team really starting to click after a difficult start to the season and they won 4-1 at Man Utd the week after.
Team News: Ian Holloway makes up to half a dozen changes to his team at the best of times, and two games in four days after four straight defeats certainly isn’t the best of times so expect the changes to be rung again. Kazenga Lua Lua was back on the bench at Bristol after his recent ankle injury and may push for a start, along with Idrissa Sylla who scored off the bench, and Conor Washington, who was half decent having come on at half time. Jack Robinson and James Perch are also being tipped for recalls but Jordan Cousins is out for the season and it’s best not to ask where Steven Caulker is or what he’s up to.
Wednesday’s embarrassment of striking riches was highlighted in last week’s win against Newcastle when Fernando Forestieri, Jordan Rhodes and Sam Winnall were all benched in favour of Steven Fletcher and Gary Hooper. Forestieri and Rhodes stepped off the bench again against Cardiff on Good Friday and combined for a winner six minutes from time so may well get a start here with two games in such quick succession. Kieran Lee and Sam Hutchinson are both out on a romantic weekend away together.
Elsewhere: A full set of a dozen matches following roughly 20 minutes on from the last bunch, and plenty for the panic-stricken amongst you to finger your worry beads over if you’re so inclined. Not least The Mad Indian Chicken Farmers at home to Bristol City. City win that and go above Rangers, God only knows what state the message board will be in. Rovers win that and close the gap to four points and God only knows what state the message board will be in. Those two draw and both pick up a point God only knows what state the message board will be in.
Birmingham against Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion is another with real intrigue, whether you think QPR are involved in this or not. Can anybody see Birmingham winning again? I fancy them to lose this one which would really put them bang in it. Burton have been masterful at scrapping out point when they’re on offer this season and it would be a real shame if their considerable efforts, while operating on the smallest budget in the league by a mile, come to nought. If Birmingham do win this and draw level on points with Rangers, God only knows what state the message board will be in. If Burton win, coming up two points behind us, God only knows what state the message board will be in. If they both pick a point up, etc etc.
Further down Relegated Rotherham are indeed now Relegated Rotherham and they’re at Reading, while Wigan Warriors are just about alive but shouldn’t get too much at Promoted Brighton. Nottingham Trees are the other team in the equation and having lost at home to the Mad Indian Chicken Farmers it would be a brave man to back them for much as they fulfil their date on the Seventh Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour.
Teams QPR could still catch above them, if you’re one of these annoying optimistic types, include the Wolverhampton Wolves who at Champions of Europe (wobbling, hilariously), and Mick McCarthy’s free wheeling, free flowing, entertaining Ipswich side who will be boring the living shit out of Champions Newcastle.
The Derby Sheep’s rally under new manager Gary Rowett ultimately only teed them up for yet another monumental bottle job – they lost 4-0 at Brentford on Friday and now come back home to face third-placed Borussia Huddersfield. Brentford, meanwhile, warm up for their cup final by heading to Barnsley in good form for this week’s game between two sides beginning with B.
Tarquin and Rupert get a 15 minute head start on Sheffield Owls in their punting race for sixth when they take on Leddersford in an early live Sky game while it’s applause in the fourteenth minute for want of something better to do with their time at Preston Knob End v Norwich.
I can’t do well when I think you’re going to leave me, but you know I try. Are you going to leave me now?
Referee: Bit of a mixed bag of QPR results for Andy Davies this season – he was in the middle for the 6-0 home loss to Newcastle and the 4-1 away win at Birmingham. He was also down to referee the 5-1 home humping of Rotherham but was replaced late there by Oliver Langford so, if he turns up, this will be his third Rangers game of the season. Last year he was in charge for the first 80 minutes of our 1-1 draw with Sheff Wed at Hillsborough. Details and stats here.
QPR: So from five wins one draw and just one defeat in seven games, Rangers have now lost four in a row for the second time this season – the previous run stretched to six between November 26 and December 27. The defeat to Brighton last time out at Loftus Road snapped a run of four straight wins in Shepherd’s Bush, which doubled the number of QPR home wins this season to eight – still a poor total, same as Burton Albion for reference. Rangers have failed to even score in three of their last four games against Sheff Wed, but haven’t lost at home to them in eight meetings. There hasn’t been a 0-0 draw at Loftus Road in 34 games.
Sheff Wed: The Owls seem to be hitting form at just the right time as the season reaches its business end and Fulham start to crank up the pressure from seventh. The Good Friday 1-0 home win against Cardiff was a third win in succession and they may now be looking up again with the gap one point to Leeds, four to Reading and five to Huddersfield. Their away record is not great though, with just seven wins (to go with seven draws and seven defeats) bettered by everybody else in the top six and matched by Brentford in eleventh and Wolves in sixteenth. Those away wins have come at Blackburn, Huddersfield, Wolves, Newcastle, Wigan, Forest and Rotherham and they come into this game with just one win from their last four away games.
Prediction: A draw. I think. Who knows? That’s why we go. I think we will stop the rot at some point, I think Hutchinson and Lee are big misses for Wednesday, I think a draw does nothing for anybody really so that’s what we’ll get.
LFW’s Prediction: QPR 1 Sheff Wed 1. Scorer – Idrissa Sylla.
The Twitter @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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