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Queens Park Rangers 4 v 2 Stoke City
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 15th February 2020 Kick-off 15:00
The QPR way - Preview
Friday, 14th Feb 2020 17:19 by Clive Whittingham

QPR are favourites to win a home game against a team below them in the league, a result that would do wonders for the mood and nerves around the place after a difficult January. We know how that usually goes, and how it went 12 months ago against the same opponent.

QPR (11-6-15, WLLLLD, 17th) v Stoke (10-4-18, DWWLWL, 21st)

Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday February 15, 2020 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Biblical, to the point of postponement >>> Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, Loftus Road, London, W12

Our Sky overlords were left to repent at leisure on their hasty decision to televise a Swansea team on the slide and a QPR team with nothing to play for just because they’d gone a bit goal crazy in the FA Cup.

That decision, made the day after that 5-1 goal of the season fest at Loftus Road, was one of the rare occasions they didn’t just lazily stick the Leeds game on, and my how they regretted that with the Champions of Europe sliding from promotion certainties into a monumental shit out just in time for their visit to the best team they’ve played all season, Spartak Hounslow. Back and forth they bounced to Griffin Park all night, while QPR and Swansea shithoused their way through a 0-0 stupefier. Well done lads, fuck em.

That point in South Wales, which would have been all three but for persistently wayward finishing, stopped a rot of four straight defeats and sends QPR into a run of three home games out of the next four (all winnable) in a slightly better frame of mind than they were after a listless second half at Huddersfield a week ago. They need to get scoring again, either by weighing Jordan Hugill’s head down so he doesn’t keep doing that lean back and sky it routine, or getting Eze running beyond the centre forward and scoring as he was in the autumn (most brilliantly in the first game against Stoke). One goal in 13 now for Eze, not enough, despite a terrific first half performance at Huddersfield and another eye catching display during the week suggesting he’s coming right back into form.

Stoke should be ideal opponents for him, and us, to get back on the horse against. A poor team, in seemingly terminal decline, suffering like us from a ruinous spell of Mark Hughes management and now rattling through managers and recruitment strategies at a rate of knots with little sign of the descent slowing. They’ve lost ten of their 15 away games this season and were done 4-0 at an equally pitiful Derby County last time they left the Potteries. James McClean, one of their few effective players this season, is injured.

But that makes me nervous. Michael O’Neill has brought about some improvement in results -though as they didn’t win any of their first ten he could hardly have done any worse than the supremely confident, unfailingly irritating Nathan Jones. They’ve won five of the last ten, including a five-goal haul at Huddersfield where we failed to trouble the scorers and a 1-0 win at league leaders West Brom. Young striker Tyrese Campbell looks like exactly the sort of quick, physical, talented, prolific bastard that our creaky defence will not know what to do with. The conditions forecast for W12 tomorrow are biblical and could turn a game QPR are justified favourites for into a bit of a lottery.

And, it’s QPR we’re talking about. You only have to look at this fixture almost exactly a year ago to know what we’re like. Then, as now, we were in a bad run, losing successive games and struggling to score. Then, as now, we’d picked up a much needed positive result from a better performance to apparently stop the slide – Luke Freeman 1 Leeds United 0 a year ago, the Swansea draw this time around. Then, as now, Stoke were, basically, bloody crap, and looked like exactly the sort of home banker we needed. So the plan went that a tough February of fixture congestion, injuries, and a dire run of referee decisions could be relieved by a sparser March that included home games with Stoke, Bolton and Rotherham.

Stoke were even good enough to have a man sent off in the first ten minutes – Sam Clucas objecting to Josh Scowen The Goblin Boy’s early ratting with a stamp right in front of the referee. But QPR did nothing with the opportunity. Abject throughout, posing no threat at all, they bored the long suffering faithful almost to death for the next 70 minutes before levelling the numbers up with a Grant Hall red card and then almost losing the game altogether in the last ten minutes. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever sat through in my life, and I include the funerals of close relatives in that.

Stoke, Derby and Birmingham at home in the next fortnight could do us the world of good. There’s seven points there begging to be taken and that would push us over the top once and for all, with no need to keep casting glances over our shoulder, and big chances in the remaining games to play some attacking football and give some minutes to some more younger players. But we do have to take those chances, and as we showed at Swansea on Tuesday, that’s rather easier said than done at the moment.

A nice comfortable 2-0 home win? It’s just not the QPR way.

Links >>> O’Neill breathing hope – Interview >>> Five goal thriller – History >>> Four blokes, three mics – Podcast >>> Langford in charge – Referee >>> Stoke City official website >>> Stoke Sentinel – Local press >>> The Oatcake – Message Board >>> The Wizards of Drivel – Podcast

Geoff Cameron Facts No.89 In The Series – Geoff spent the majority of the bus ride back from Swansea trying to explain to Joe Lumley how none of the examples given in Alan Morissette’s 1996 hit Ironic are actually ironic, but that this in itself is ironic. It did not go well.

Saturday

Team News: QPR have no new injury concerns ahead of this one but don’t usually start Angel Rangel twice in a row in a week with a Tuesday night game so Todd Kane may return at right back. Decisions to be made in midfield also where Dom Ball and Geoff Cameron formed a defensive partnership in the week but Luke Amos stands by for a recall if Warbs Warburton wants to go more attacking. Ryan Manning surely did enough at Swansea to keep his place ahead of Lee Wallace. Ilias Chair and Jack Clarke fight to replace Marc Pugh, an odd choice as Sky’s man of the match on Tuesday.

As if a 2-0 home defeat to Preston and Ben Pearson going all Ben Pearson on them wasn’t bad enough, they lost James McClean to a knee injury for “several weeks” and Thibaud Verlinden for the rest of the season. Still, I guess it spares us the spectacle of meatheads screaming “where’s your poppy” at the guy for 90 minutes in the middle of February. Mame Biram Diouf played a reserve game in the week and may come in from the cold as cover.

Elsewhere: Well if you liked the look of Swanselona on Tuesday the good news is there’s another televised dose of that dirge coming your way this evening as they head north to face the Allam Tigers who’ve lost six and drawn one of their last seven since losing Kamil Grosicki and Jarrod Bowen in the January transfer window. A classic in the making.

The lunchtime game selected by our Sky overlords tomorrow is top of the table West Brom against fifth placed Nottingham Florist. The visitors did the most Forest thing ever last week, beating fellow promotion chasers Leeds in fine style to set themselves up to move into the top two with another midweek win against Charlton only to then lose 1-0 to the chronically out-of-form Addicks.

Tarquin and Rupert are now level with the Champions of Europe on 56 points ahead of what looks like a home banker against Grimethorpe Miners’ Welfare. Marshmallow Bielsa’s men have an altogether tougher match at home to an inconsistent but dangerous Bristol City. Justice League leaders Spartak Hounslow drew with Leeds during the week and can also usurp them in the automatic spots this weekend with a win at Birmingham City. It’s highly likely they will, given that they’re almost certainly going to be the best team Birmingham have faced all season. Preston Knob End’s midweek win at Stoke has them sixth ahead of a visit from Millwall.

Down the bottom it’s now Barnsley propping things up on 25 points, nine adrift of safety, ahead of their trip to Fulham. Lutown got a 1-0 home win against Sheffield Owls during the week to move off the bottom on 27 points and they make the long trip up to Middlesbrough, with whom they drew 3-3 in an opening night thriller back in August. Wigan Warriors complete the drop zone on 30 points, four adrift of Stoke, ahead of a trip to Cardiff. Charlton’s surprise win in Nottingham gives them a six point cushion as they prepare to welcome the Mad Chicken Farmers.

Among the stuff we haven’t mentioned is Wayne Rooney’s Derby County at home to the Cowley Sisters, and Hayes and Yeading boring the living shit out of Sheffield Owls.

Referee: Oliver Langford, touch wood, usually a very lenient referee is the man in the middle for this one. Details.

Form

QPR: From being second top scorers in the Championship behind only leaders West Brom, QPR are now without a goal in three and a half games since Jordan Hugill briefly equalised in the loss at Blackburn. That has contributed to a run of five without a win, including four straight defeats prior to the midweek draw at Swansea. Only bottom of the table Luton have taken fewer points from their last ten games than QPR. Having started the year with 6-1 and 5-1 home wins against the two Welsh sides followed by another victory against Leeds, Rangers have now lost their last two at Loftus Road against Sheff Wed in the cup and Bristol City in the league. Overall at Loftus Road in the Championship this season they have won six, drawn four and lost six. They lost a club record 11 home league games last season. Jordan Hugill has had more shots off target (40) than any other striker in the Championship this season.

Stoke: It took Stoke ten matches to win their first Championship game this year, a win that included the 2-1 loss to QPR in the corresponding fixture. Since beating Swansea 2-1 away to get themselves up and running on the first Saturday in October they’ve won ten games from 22 games. They’ve won five of the last ten, including a 5-2 away win at Huddersfield and a 1-0 at league leaders West Brom, but were beaten 2-0 at home by Preston during the week and lost their last away game 4-0 at Derby. Overall away from home this year they’ve won four, drawn one and lost ten with the victories coming at Swansea, Huddersfield, West Brom and Barnsley. Striker Tyrese Campbell, the 20-year-old son of Kevin, has scored five goals in nine starts and 11 sub appearances this season.

Prediction: This year’s Prediction League 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. Our down in the dumps reigning champion WokingR says

“Right, something needs to change here. It's not just Mark Warburton who has discovered that sometimes a new approach is needed. I've gone from winning the prediction league last year to having the lowest points per game of anyone. Probably ever. So, studying recent results and current form tables obviously isn't working so I've gone through my usual process and then predicted the exact opposite. 2-0 to the R's with Chair storming back from his rest with our first.

Woking’s Prediction: QPR 2-0 Stoke. Scorer – Ilias Chair

LFW’s Prediction: QPR P-P Stoke.

The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords

Pictures – Action Images

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Tomo_5 added 19:58 - Feb 14
I would like to see the stats for when Todd Kane plays and when he doesn't. I haven't watched every game but have yet to see him play well defensively.
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enfieldargh added 11:28 - Feb 15
Great preview as ever and its 11;30 in Enfield and not a drop of rain in sight.

I fully expect to see James Maclean tearing us asunder down the wing.

Unless a player is in the fracture clinic, in prison or dead please dont build up my hopes up by saying they are out injured.
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TacticalR added 13:52 - Feb 15
Thanks for your preview.

I agree that it all looks good on paper, but we have had so many matches this season when we haven't scored when we've dominated play, then conceded a goal, and then looked very wobbly.
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