|Queens Park Rangers 2 v 1 Derby County|
Tuesday, 25th February 2020 Kick-off 19:45
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Tuesday, 25th Feb 2020 13:26 by Clive Whittingham
Ebere Eze is QPR's only ever present in the league this season and with Ryan Manning the latest to come roaring back to form after a rest, we consider whether he's really going to be asked to 46/46 ahead of tonight's game at home to Derby.
QPR (12-7-15, 15th) v Wayne Rooney (11-12-11, 13th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Tuesday February 25, 2020 >>> Kick Off 19.45 >>> Weather – Heavy rain >>> Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, Loftus Road, London, W12
How and why you’d ever think to look it up I don’t know, but Opta’s Jack Supple worked out that Ebere Eze’s 100th QPR appearance at Nottingham Forest at the weekend made him the youngest player to reach that milestone for the club since Ian Dawes, who also played his hundredth game against Forest in September 1984.
It’s testament, first of all, to the value of being at a club where you’re going to play games. Eze already has 122 professional appearances for QPR and Wycombe under his belt aged just 21. Bright Osayi-Samuel aged 22 has played 190 times for QPR and Blackpool. Compare their records to, say, Luke Amos, who’s 23 and has made 37 starts in his life, or the Matt Smith we had from Man City at the start of the season, who’s 20 and has seven starts and eight sub appearances, or Jack Clarke who’s 19 and has eight starts and 28 goes off the bench. Compare the strength, durability, streetwiseness and affect on games of the players who played some actual football against the excellent young boys who came up through the unfit for purpose academy system, or jumped at the first money move that came along and went from a club where he was playing to one where he was never going to.
It’s why I get a little bit testy when Mark Warburton keeps mentioning Bright’s “lack of academy education”. Now, of course, he’s not meaning it as a dig, it’s just another way of saying he’s a bit raw, and his decision making is sometimes lacking in judgement, which is pretty self evident, though improving. But I don’t see the academies in this country having a particularly wonderful effect on our game. More often than not they just use the evil EPPP regulations to snatch players away from clubs where they would be playing and park them at ones that never intend to use them, warehousing talent away from their rivals and loaning it off into neutral territory. Nine times out of ten I’d take the lad who’s cut his teeth getting booted around the place for 80 games at Blackpool and knows what it’s all about over the boy who’s been paid a small fortune from a young age to kick around in non-competitive academy games. Look at the way Bright attacks games, and how placid and timid Amos can be by comparison.
In Eze’s case in particular, it also speaks to his durability. Given the position he plays, and the among of Championship hatchet men that are after him, it’s remarkable he’s available as often as he is. Like Adel Taarabt before him, a player you’d think would basically be kicked to death, has so far (touch wood) been available to play every week for the best part of two years. Another tick in pros column when Premier League clubs start assessing his worth in the summer.
It’s been a weird few years team selection wise at QPR. We had Ian Holloway, who’d beat Sheff Wed 4-2 on the Tuesday, take out six players who starred in the game, and get beaten at home by Preston on the Saturday, to everybody’s understandable frustration. Then we had Steve McClaren, who picked the same team every week regardless, and got to the turn of the year last season with four ever presents and two more who’d only missed a game each. Eze was one of those every-weekers and really seemed to suffer in the second half of the season, completely spent and struggling to make an impact in a struggling team.
This year one of the most impressive elements of Mark Warburton’s managership of the squad has been an effective rotation policy. Ryan Manning, Ilias Chair and Bright Osayi-Samuel have all had periods of a few weeks out of the team and benefitted hugely for it – Manning the latest to come roaring back into the side, unrecognisable in the last three games from the tired showings he was putting in just before Christmas. I’m hoping Chair is about to do the same in the next few weeks because when he, Bright and Eze get going together at the same time it’s a joy to behold. Bright, on nine bookings in the league so on the cusp of a two match ban, may be due a rest soon himself, not because of his form which remains good, but he does seem to be struggling to finish games at the moment, regularly stretching what looks like a troublesome calf.
The one who hasn’t ducked out at all yet is Eze – 34 league games, 34 starts. There was a hint of another dip a month or so back but at Huddersfield, Swansea and against Stoke he was superb. January has left Warburton with fewer options – Jordan Hugill, for instance, you would think is going to have to try and play every game between now and May – but it’ll be interesting to see if, at any point, Eze is just pulled for a game or two.
Anyway, that’s passed seven paragraphs without dwelling on the thought of Mr Potato Head and Keith Stroud jointly refereeing tonight’s game at Loftus Road.
Links >>> Class of 75 – History >>> Rooney leading revival – Interview >>> Stroud in charge – Referee >>> Derby Official Website >>> Derby Telegraph – Local Press >>> Derby County Blog – Contributor’s blog >>> DCFCFans – Forum
Geoff Cameron Facts No.91 In The Series – While captaining Major League Soccer’s Stubville Hogs Geoff hosted his own easy listening breakfast show on Wichita’s KCFN 91.1FM.
Team News: Bright Osayi-Samuel’s yellow card at Forest on Saturday was his third in as many games and fifth in nine outings. It leaves him on ten for the season, however one of those was in the FA Cup against Sheff Wed so he’s one shy of triggering a two match ban. The amnesty for ten cards is at 37 matches so he needs to get through tonight, Birmingham and Preston without a card to avoid a ban. Other than that there are no new injury or suspension concerns for Mark Warburton but having named the same side three games in a row for the first time this season, and with this being a three game week, rotation could be likely. Luke Amos and Todd Kane stand by to replace ageing Geoff Cameron and Angel Rangel if it’s decided they can’t back up from Saturday. Jack Clarke awaits a first league start since coming in on loan from Spurs in January.
Derby have lost Duane Holmes medium term, and Tom Huddlestone is still too big to fit on the team bus for away games, but other than that they’re picking from the same squad they had at the weekend as well.
Elsewhere: Five games tonight and seven tomorrow in this 98th round of midweek fixtures so far this season in the Mercantile Credit Trophy. West Brom are at home to Preston Knob End tonight giving them a chance to stretch their lead at the top to seven points over Leeds and 12 over Sebastien and Jeffers. They both play tomorrow, with Marshmallow Bielsa taking his side to Middlesbrough on the back of two straight 1-0 home wins to steady the ship, and Fulham at home to Swanselona. Justice League leaders Spartak Hounslow can go above Fulham and to within three points of Leeds if they win at basement dwellers Lutown tonight – almost certainly the best team the Hatters will have played all season.
Either side of Preston in sixth are Nottingham Florist in fifth and Bristol City in seventh – they’re both away tonight, Sabri Lamounchi’s team at Cardiff and Lee Johnson’s men up north against Cowley sisters Danni and Nikki. Down at the bottom Grimethorpe Miner’s Welfare can haul the Allam Tigers, no wins and seven defeats from nine games, deeper into the mire with an away win on Humberside. Wigan Warriors are third bottom on 36 points ahead of their trip to Hayes and Yeading. Fellow strugglers Stoke and Charlton are also both away at the Mad Chicken Farmers and Sheffield Owls respectively. Garry Monk’s side another that has rather dropped off a cliff of late, with no wins in seven league games and home hammerings by Blackburn and Reading.
Millwall v Birmingham completes the round. Referee: The Championship’s worst official combined with one of English football’s most notorious player refs. What could possibly go wrong? Details.
QPR: Having not registered a 0-0 draw all season, QPR have now posted two in little more than a week with the stalemates at Swansea and Nottingham Forest. It also means that Rangers, once second only to West Brom in the Championship scoring stakes, have now failed to score in four of their last five games since top scorer Nahki Wells left for Bristol City. They did score four in the other game though, at home to Stoke, and since the turn of the year the R’s have won four out of six at Loftus Road scoring 16 goals in the process against Cardiff, Swansea, Leeds and Stoke. The Stoke victory is their only maximum in seven attempts home and away in all comps, and they don’t have a particularly great recent record against Derby either with three draws, four defeats and no wins from the last seven meetings. Rangers are unbeaten in three, with two clean sheets, since Yoann Barbet returned to the defence.
Derby: The 1-1 draw between these sides at Pride Park in November was one of seven consecutive matches without a win for Philip Cocu’s side heading into Christmas. They’ve really spun it around since then though, with three straight wins against Barnsley, Charlton and Premier League Crystal Place setting them off on a run of just two defeats from 14 matches with seven victories. They come into this without a win in three mind, with a 3-2 loss at Bristol City followed by a pair of 1-1 draws at home to Huddersfield and Fulham. Their overall away record of just two wins (Huddersfield opening day, Swansea last week), five draws and ten defeats is worse than anybody in the division bar the bottom two Luton (3-0-15) and Barnsley (2-3-11).
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 reigning champion WokingR says
“Our home form is actually quite good of late and I think we will just about edge this one. 2-1 to Rangers in quite a tight game. Grant Hall scoring our first with a bullet header.”
Woking’s Prediction: QPR 2-1 Derby. Scorer – Grant Hall
LFW’s Prediction: QPR 1-1 Derby. Scorer – Jordan Hugill
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