|Barnsley 5 v 3 Queens Park Rangers|
Saturday, 14th December 2019 Kick-off 15:00
QPR push for third win this week at lowly Barnsley - Preview
Saturday, 14th Dec 2019 10:24 by Clive Whittingham
QPR have roared back into form with wins against Preston and Birmingham this week, and with games against struggling Barnsley and Charlton to come there's a chance for them to tee up an exciting Christmas period.
Barnsley (2-7-12, LLLWLD, 24th) v QPR (9-4-8, DLLDWW, 12th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday December 14, 2019 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Perpetual darkness, some daylight between 12.37 and 12.54 >>> Oakwell, Barnsley, The North
Following Queens Park Rangers away from home has been an exercise in self flagellation for several years now. Five away wins last season, three the season before that, six the season before that, two in 2014/15 and so on. It’s taken something that’s meant to be fun and made it a chore, turned Friday nights into Monday mornings. These treks around a broken country felt lost before we'd even set out.
And so it was with some confusion on Kings Cross station last night, prior to setting off on the long slog up to Barnsley for today’s game, that a wave of emotion I hadn’t experienced for some time swept over me. I checked myself, took a breath, and eventually realised that I was quite looking forward to this.
The midweek win at Birmingham – the sort of comfortable 2-0 that never really looked like being anything but that we simply don’t do – made it five away wins for the season already with 13 more road games still to play. It’s as many as we managed in the whole of 2018/19 and with matches against the two most out of form teams in the league to come this week it’s put us back in touch with the play-off picture.
Now, let’s have this right, I don’t think we have a play-off team on our hands here. The Preston win last weekend was an anomaly in this but the Birmingham game reinforced the very stark line across the middle of the league that divide QPR’s results. We’ve lost eight times this season against the teams currently first, second, third, fourth, fifth, seventh, ninth and eleventh. We’ve won nine times against the teams currently twenty third, twenty second, twenty first, fifteenth, fourteenth, thirteenth, tenth, eighth and sixth. Like I say, take that Preston result out of the equation and add in the draws that have come against the teams currently twentieth, nineteenth, eighteenth and sixteenth and where Rangers currently stand among Championship clubs is pretty stark. Have a run of games against teams in the top half, as we did in November, and we go on a long winless streak. Have a run against those lower down, as we have in December, and we go flying back up the table and people get carried away.
For all of that, I’m not for one minute suggesting that win number ten will come this afternoon at rock bottom Barnsley. It should, because we’re a better team than they are and it’s also a ground we tend to do quite well on, but their new manager adds an element of uncertainty, their home record of late shows only one defeat from six (though only one win) and they are a team that scores goals. It’s been individual errors among a defence that had its first choice goalkeeper and centre half pairing picked off by ‘bigger’ clubs in the summer that has cost Barnsley dearest this season, not an inability to score or compete. They’re a tricksy opponent.
And we know what QPR usually do in this situation. Facing a team that’s only won twice all season, bottom of the league, on a cold, wet and windy day in the north – this smells like a Charity Park Rangers job all over again. Own goals, penalties, sendings off, rank stupidity, we usually find a way to bollocks these things up quite comprehensively.
But, relative to pre-season expectations, things are ticking along nicely for Mark Warburton and QPR at the moment, now we’ve got that difficult November out of the way and stopped leaking goals at a rate of two a match. The last three performances have been very good, and if we play like that this afternoon we’ll win the game again.
That I’m even entertaining that as a possibility is progress itself.
Links >>> Hope unravelled – Interview >>> Caretaker win – History >>> Everybody’s favourite – Referee >>> Eze listening – Podcast >>> Barnsley Official Website >>> Yorkshire Post – Local Press >>> Sheffield Star – Local Press >>> BBS Fan Forum – Message Board >>> Reds Report – Podcast
Geoff Cameron Facts No.77 In The Series – Geoff is the first man to successfully circumnavigate the globe using only the power of positive thinking.
Team News: Warbs Warburton is still without goalkeeper Liam Kelly, although a nourishing pair of clean sheets for Joe Lumley this week has at least taken the heat out of that particular issue. Yoann Barbet is back in training but, again, Grant Hall and Toni Leistner have played very well this week. The option for an unchanged team after consecutive 2-0 wins is there, however the manager has spoken of the importance of rotation for the senior players at a congested time of the year so Dominic Ball could come in for Geoff Cameron. Jordan Hugill and Nahki Wells are likely to be competing for one striker spot again.
Barnsley defender Ben Williams is having an existential crisis so the fragrant Clarke Odour stands by to replace him. Doubts too over Aapo Halme who’s hosting a seminar on agrarian reform across town at lunchtime and Mallik Wilks who had a dodgy prawn earlier in the week.
Elsewhere: Injury ravaged Charlton just cannot catch a break at the moment. Without a win in nine matches and quietly slipping into trouble at the bottom of the table after a whirlwind start to life back at this level, they looked for all money like 2-1 winners against Jarrod Bowen FC last night until a Dillon Phillips own goal in the ninety sixth minute tied it up at 2-2.
The other 11 fixtures are all today, starting with a Midlands derby between Birmingham and West Brom at St Andrew’s. The Champions of Europe will either be playing catch up to the Baggies, or looking to go above them, depending on the result there when they take on Cardiff City at 15.00. The Baggies midweek draw at Wigan broke a run of six straight wins while Leeds have won their last seven and not conceded in their last four.
All that has rather left the chasing pack trailing in their wake. It’s been 14 years since the top two had a gap this big on the rest at this level, with Jeffers and AJ now ten points back in third after a meek midweek defeat to Preston Knob End. It’s not about to get a lot better for Scott Parker’s First Time Cottagers either, with a trip to Justice League Leaders Spartak Hounslow today – almost certainly the best team they’ll have faced all season. The result did elevate Knob End back into the play off places ahead of their home match with Lutown – the Hatters have lost six away games in a row and conceded 20 goals in the process.
Bristol City and Nottingham Florist’s cast of a thousand footballers make up the play off picture. City are at home to the Mad Chicken Farmers today in an exciting fixture between two sides beginning with B, while Florist welcome Sheffield Owls to the City Ground. Poke City’s midweek win over Lutown halted a run of three straight defeats prior to their home match with Reading today. Swanselona have lagged a little of late but can ascend back into the top six today if they beat Middlesbrough at home and others lose.
That just leaves Wayne Rooney’s Derby County at home to the Millwall Scholars, and the clash of Super League play-off hopefuls Wigan Warriors and Huddersfield Giants.
Referee: Just you be ready with that holy water. Details.
Barnsley: The Tykes started the season with a 1-0 home win against Fulham on day one but have only won one of 20 games played since – 3-1 here against Hull a fortnight ago. They’ve conceded 42 goals already, averaging two against per game, which is the worst defensive record in the league bar Luton’s 44. They have amassed just 13 points which already leaves them seven shy of safety. Not many teams have actually won at Oakwell recently mind – Stoke got a Sam Clucas-inspired 4-2 here on Michael O’Neill’s opening night but other than that Swansea, Reading (both 1-1), Bristol City and Derby (both 2-2) have settled for draws and Hull have been beaten in their last six home fixtures. Brentford, Luton (both 3-1) and Leeds (2-0) are the only three sides to have won on this ground so far. It’s all in stark contrast to last season when they were promoted back to the Championship at the first time of asking, unbeaten at home (won 15, drew eight) and with a league leading 17 clean sheets to their name including a run of seven shut outs in a row through March.
QPR: The win at Birmingham on Wednesday night was QPR’s fifth on the road this season, meaning they’ve equalled their total of away wins for last season and surpassed the pitiful three they managed in 2017/18 in just ten games. If they were to win here it would put them level with their 2016/17 total of six and they’re only three behind their 2013/14 total of eight which was enough to win promotion via the play offs. Having not kept a clean sheet all season, and for 24 games dating back to the 4-0 home win against Swansea at Easter, Rangers have now registered two in as many games with 2-0 wins against Preston and Birmingham this week. Barnsley infamously haven’t won at Loftus Road in 25 attempts, with 22 losses including the last 12 in a row. The record isn’t quite as dire at Oakwell, but QPR have won three of their last five visits here. Rangers have recovered 12 points from losing positions this season, only league leaders West Brom (17) have more.
Prediction: Our Prediction League this year is sponsored by The Art of Football. Get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Last year’s champion WokingR says…
“It looks like we have finally found the right balance between all out attack and actually keeping things tight at the back so looking for a repeat of Birmingham away and another 2-0 win for the Rangers. Hugill first on the scoresheet.”
Woking’s Prediction: Barnsley 0-2 QPR. Scorer – Jordan Hugill
LFW’s Prediction: Barnsley 1-2 QPR. Scorer – Ebere Eze
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Pictures – Action Images
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