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Leeds United 2 v 1 Queens Park Rangers
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 8th December 2018 Kick-off 15:00
QPR fear ghost of Decembers past as they head to Leeds - Preview
Friday, 7th Dec 2018 16:25 by Clive Whittingham

December is never a particularly fruitful month for QPR, and the fixtures over the next couple of weeks won't help the current crop in their quest to change that, starting on Saturday at Leeds.

Leeds United (11-6-3, DWLWWW, 2nd) v QPR (8-4-8, WLWDDL, 11th)

Lancashire and District Senior League >>> Saturday December 8, 2018 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Cold and wet, what did you expect? >>> Elland Road, Leeds, Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire

It’s office Christmas party season, and while thoughts of Angel Rangel sitting in the corner talking about how things were better in his day while Toni Leistner kicks back one too many steins and Joel Lynch punches the bouncer in search of that precious three match ban he craves are heart warming indeed, festive cheer is likely to be thin on the ground around QPR this December.

Firstly, because it’s December, and we’re always rubbish in December. One win from six last season, one win and five defeats from six the December before, one win from six in 2015 and so it goes on. Two wins from six games played (in 2013 and 2014) is the best we’ve managed in this month since we managed three under Luigi De Canio in 2007. Even the all-conquering 2010/11 promotion season only won twice in December, while three of the five defeats suffered all season were that month (plus New Year’s Day) – including one at Saturday’s opponents Leeds.

We just don’t like it much. Bit cold, bit wet, rather be doing other things. The idea of trekking up to Leeds to pay the thick end of £40 to sit in the freezing cold and watch QPR ponce about in a bright pink kit while 20,000 locals shout “Yorkshire” at us thrills about as much as appearing in the audience of Question Time. I’m on the 18.33 tonight. Why? Why? I don’t even know.

Secondly, because the fixtures look awkward this time. Reading and Ipswich at home between Christmas and New Year is a nice gift, although we thought that about Hull last week and having given that presentable chance to move into play-off contention the full Diana Ross treatment we’re now staring down the barrel of a trip to Leeds (second), a gloriously fast-flowing and riveting 1-0 home defeat to Middlesbrough (third), and then a Hooters Christmas at Nottingham Forest (seventh) where our record is… not the best. After two draws and that lousy defeat last weekend, another one of those beloved six match winless runs beckons. Let’s hope we actually follow through with the ‘typical QPR’ act and beat a team we shouldn’t after losing to one we really should.

I blame the Fans Forum personally. Scheduled weeks in advance, they neverless always seem to coincide with a period of relative calm and good form. The days of Philip Beard being set upon by a pack of hungry wolves/school teachers and the late Harold Winton getting up to accuse Gianni Paladini of stealing money from the club have been replaced with more tepid affairs, as we reminisce about Les Ferdinand’s favourite goal, or try and pick out way through Ian Holloway’s Grandpa Simpson technique of telling stories that never go anywhere, or marvel at Steve McClaren’s England-days media training and immaculate teeth. Andy Sinton goes around and shakes everbody’s hand, you get two free beers, everybody has a wonderful time. And then, almost without fail, the whole thing goes to shit the week after. Genuine talk of a surprise promotion push at the latest get together will start to look very silly if the next three games go as they should – something McClaren had telegraphed when he told everybody they needed to calm down. Holloway quickly lost six in a row again after his last forum and Hasselbaink lost 6-0 to Newcastle and was quickly out of a job after he’d done quite well at his only one.

Amazing how a whole club can be destabilised after a public meeting about the water pressure in the ladies toilet.

Its been an up and down season from which Rangers are most likely to emerge a comfortable non-threatening, non-threatened midtable footballing coagulant. I’ve been reasonably impressed with how Steve McClaren has dealt with the challenges that have come his way, in one of football’s more difficult managerial jobs, and he’s got another one to cope with now. Namely, a defence that was keeping clean sheets for fun now can’t stop conceding. Having retreated so far back within themselves our ageing, and painfully slow, defence has found there’s nowhere further to go without paying for tickets in the front row of the stand behind the goal and the space they’ve left behind and ceded in front of them is being exploited – particularly in wide areas. Throw in an offside trap like a dog’s hind leg – Rangel has been particularly guilty of playing people on in the last few games – and it’s clear work or a change of tack is needed.

Whether that will be enough to avert problems in these next three difficult games is doubtful, and I fear we’ll be kicking ourselves over that casual, lethargic and sloppy Hull display for another few weeks to come yet.

Links >>> Wegerle wonder goal – History >>> Bielsa revolution – Interview >>> Bankes in charge – Referee >>> Les Ferdinand interview – Podcast >>> View from the Pu – November

Geoff Cameron Facts #15 – They started Geoff Cameron on the bauble challenge but couldn’t include him in the video because he’s still going now, 17,564 at the last count.

Saturday

Team News: Grant Hall was on fan zone duty last week after suffering a knock in training but is fit to travel this weekend apparently – well, as fit as he ever gets. Despite Bright Osayi-Samuel’s impressive cameo v Hull and Angel Rangel’s difficult couple of games it’s likely to be the same again for Steve McClaren with the only really debating point over whether Tomer Hemed starts instead of Nahki Wells. Mide Shodipo is a long term absentee. Joel Lynch’s late nonsense against Hull got hima fifth yellow card of the season but the cut off for a ban for that was November 30 so he’ll have to work harder than that for his annual Christmas off - we’re offering two places on his anger management course for any sighting of Sean Goss.

Leeds have lost two first teamers for six weeks apiece with Stuart Dallas ruled out with a lost sense of decorum and captain Liam Cooper sidelined with coulrophobia. Youngsters Jamie Shackleton and Aapo Halme are first in line to deputise.

Elsewhere: Back to life, back to reality for the Lancashire and District Senior League as we enter that oh so crucial 4,682nd round of the competition starting tonight with West Brom hosting Big Racist John and the Boys at The Hawthorns live on Sky Sports Leeds.

All change at Reading, where deeply unpopular former Chelsea man Ron Gourlay has been ousted as CEO and been followed quickly through the door by ‘dream manager’ Paul Clement. They go into Saturday evenings televised encounter with Sheffield Red Stripes under caretaker charge with several names in the frame for the job. Steve Bruce leads the betting with Carlos Carvalhal and Gareth Ainsworth getting mentioned but could Phil Parkinson, a former Reading player, find this an ideal way out of the mess at Bolton? They’re second bottom going into a tough away game at league leading Borussia Norwich and again haven’t paid their players and staff on time amidst a run of ten games without a win.

Ipswich Blue Sox will be, for once, hoping for a positive result from their neighbours in that match – they’re seven points away from safety going into a difficult trip to Stoke. Millwall Scholars have quietly snuck into the relegation zone as well with no wins in five prior to their home match with the Allam Tigers on Saturday.

Spartak Hounslow were the best side West Brom had faced all season on Monday and richly deserved their injury time equaliser. Amidst a continuing campaign for a moral victory to count as two points (a rule change that would put them three clear at the top of the league) they welcome Swanselona to Griffin Par.

Middlesbrough will beat the Mad Chicken Farmers 1-0 with an Aden Flint header off a second half corner as Tony Pulis continues to dispense Christmas spirit in thimble loads and Frank Lampard’s Derby County are away to Wigan Warriors. Preston Knob End are away to Nottingham Trees. There’s a South Yorkshire derby between Sheffield Owls and Rotherham for your viewing pleasure and Birmingham v Bristol City is this week’s exciting fixture between two teams beginning with B.

Referee:Not feeling a lot of love from the appointments secretary at the moment are we? Details.

Form

Leeds: Leeds are one point behind leaders Norwich and four clear of third placed West Brom in second prior to kick off on Saturday. They’ve won their last three games without conceding a goal against Sheff Utd, Reading (both 1-0) and Bristol City (2-0). At home they haven’t lost in five since Birmingham won here 2-1 in September – 1-1 draws with Brentford and Forest and wins to nil against Ipswich, Bristol City and Reading. They’ve lost only two of their last 11 games home and away and at Elland Road they’ve won six, drawn three, lost only one, scored 16 and conceded just five which is the lowest total in the league. Leeds did the double over Rangers last season, 3-1 at Loftus Road and 2-0 at Elland Road with four goals for Kemar Roofe along the way, but have never beaten Rangers three times in a row in their history.

QPR: Rangers’ 2-0 win at Ipswich on October 20 made it three away wins for the season, the same they managed in the whole of 2017/18, but they’ve lost one and drawn two of three since. The three teams we have beaten on the road so far currently sit bottom, second bottom and fourth bottom in the league and two (Ipswich, Reading) have replaced their manager since losing to us. The next four away games are against second, seventh, eighth and sixth. The clean sheet against Aston Villa on October 26 made it three shutouts in a week and seven for the season, again equalling last year’s total in double quick time, but the defence has been leaky since with no clean sheet in five games and at least two conceded in the last four games (nine in total). From five wins and a draw in seven matches, Rangers now travel to Elland Road with only one win from five. They’ve won only one of the last eight trips here and failed to score in the last two. Clint Hill scored the winner last time they were victorious on this ground, 1-0 in August 2013.

Prediction: Our Prediction League this year is sponsored by The Art of Football, with prizes available for the Christmas leader and overall champion. Get involved here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. A surprise defeat at home to Hull caught us both out last week but what does reigning champion Elliott make of our chances at Leeds?

“After the loss at Hull, we’re now in real danger of going on a long winless run. With tough fixtures coming up, we’re going to have to be at our very best Saturday to get anything from the game. After leaking so many goals in recent games, a potential return for Grant Hall might finally be in the offing. I hope I’m wrong but in Rangel’s words on Thursday, “this will be our toughest game of the season”. And in typical QPR style, we have to play them in the FA Cup as well.”

Elliott’s Prediction: Leeds 3-0 QPR. No scorer.

LFW’s Prediction: Leeds 2-0 QPR. No scorer.

The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords

Pictures – Action Images

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