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|Prediction||Prediction Logged by at 14:22:11|
Sheffield United v Queens Park Rangers prediction logged
at 10:34 8 Jan 2019
Never been, but an ex gf of mine lived near the ground for a bit and said it was like a warzone on matchdays. Who's been, what's it like there, are there at least some decent pubs where bricks won't come in through the windows?
|Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 2 Leeds 1|
at 14:29 7 Jan 2019
One of the reasons, I've heard, that Stranger Things series 3 is taking such a long time to complete, is because the writers of Stranger Things series 3 are finding it really hard to come up with things stranger than what has been going on at Loftus Road this season. From 7-1 maulings through to three-wins-in-a-week runs, to being able to keep clean sheets to winning away games - and not the usual away games at Birmingham, but proper away games at Nottingham Forest. It has the writers believing that The Upside Down, a telekinetic girl and zombie dogs just won't cut it this time. It all seems so... bland, so everyday. And after Sunday's victory, many on the production threw their hands in the air in absolute desperation. 'And now they've won an FA Cup game!' yelled one.
'A replay, though, suely?'
'No. First fking go.'
'Oh for fks sake. Well, it's the nuclear option for us: Eleven goes on holiday with Steve Bruce to the West Indies to watch some cricket and ends up coming up with a master plan to help save Sheffield Wednesday's season, just as soon as Steve and his fat belly can be arst to get back to actually take up the job.'
1. THE TEAM: Clive put it best in his preview. For weeks, even at the time I bought my ticket, I had been thinking: 'ok, this year, let's properly go for it in the Cup. We're not going up, we're not going down and with the amount of clubs not giving a chinchilla's anus about the competition about we could, if we were really lucky, have a proper cup run to Round 4. But then I think most of us read Clive's preview and reluctantly agreed: resting a few might not be the worst idea in the world.
In my head, though, I thought we'd go with keeping the defence together on the whole, and make more changes up front. Something like: Ingram, Kakay, BFG, Lynch, Bidwell; two out of three of Cousins, Scowen and Manning; BOS, Chair, then probably either Freeman or Pav; Oteh.
In the end, Stevie Mac surprised me by resting both centre backs and keeping two players I felt for sure would be rested (Furs, Eze) and another who I thought probably would be (Freeman). It felt, if the defence would hold and Grant Hall could walk, like quite a good compromise before the game, and looked masterful by the end. Furlong continued his good form, we still had the steel and ball-winning ability in midfield and, most importantly, we carried both established threat in the in-form Freeman and Eze and the fresh legs of BOS and Oteh.
He made changes, but good ones, necessary ones. And it didn't feel like he was treating it as a practise game. And he, and we, were rewarded. It wasn't a great game, but it was a good one, and easily the best 3rd Round game we've had for a couple of decades. Well done to Steve, well done to the club for the sensible pricing, well done to the fans that came, well done to the players for winning. Lovely day all round.
Interesting decision to make Freeman captain too, a reflection of how important he is to the side, and also, I think, just a nudge to show him how valued he is. Furlong, Hall, Bidwell and Scowen have all captained the side over the last couple of years, but Freeman leap-frogged the lot: a testament to his form, perhaps, but also his growing maturity as a player and as a team player. He's not only our main creator, he also works his balls off too - a great example.
2. OTEH: Smegma has been singing the praises of Oteh all season, even claiming he's 'better than Eze' the other day, which is high praise indeed, and finally he got a proper chance to play a full first team game again after the odd appearance last year. The signs are really good. I remember his game at home to Boro last season, where he was just monstered by Boro's enormous defence. It wasn't his fault, they were bigger, stronger, more experienced and just bullied him out of it - he was subbed at half time.
With the caveat that Leeds had far from their first choice defence, and began the second half without a single recognised centre back even on the pitch, he looks to have come a long way in a year. He looks more confident, stronger and just more sure of himself and more able to properly cause a team problems. He has good pace, he likes to run with the ball, he made some really intelligent runs and possibly the reason Halme was taken off at half time was because he was already on a yellow and with the way we were getting behind him he looked a prime candidate for a red card in the second half.
But obviously the biggest thing was the penalty, won by the wily Bidwell. I assumed Eze would probably take it (clearly Freeman doesn't fancy them for some unknown reason), but surprise at Oteh taking the ball was tempered when I remembered Smegma noting how cool Oteh has been on pens for the U23s this season. And there it was - nice and calm, sent the keeper the wrong way, goal.
Really good performance, really encouraging. Poor Matt Smith.
3. BOS: At last we also got to see a proper (almost) 90 minutes from Bright. And again it was impressive. What I particularly like about BOS is his single-mindedness. He gets the ball and his first thought, even if challenged, isn't 'let me just play this safe and lay it off' - it's 'right, I'll get past this one, then it's a shot or a cross.' Almost every time. That directness - a clever directness, mind, not a head-down-and-run kind - is invaluable to any team looking to create chances, and with his speed it's a real weapon. I don't now the stats, but he got several crosses in on Saturday, was never afraid to run at his man, defended enthusiastically, and was generally a real danger all game.
He's really showing that he is ready to step into this side when he's needed - and with Freeman's form going through the roof at the moment that might, sadly, be sooner rather than later.
4. BIDWELL: He might've expected to be rested yesterday, but maybe he insisted on playing, because he looked like he really enjoyed it. Leeds like to stay wide and overload the wings, but that didn't deter him from getting forward a lot to help Freeman/BOS down that left hand side. He was having real fun in the air against a small Leeds side, and really could easily have scored before he finally netted the winner with a superb header from yet another dangerous Freeman corner. He is now our leading FA Cup scorer at the club, with two. Well done Bids. Also, a lovely turn on the edge of the box drawing the silly lunge from the Leeds defender for the penalty. Really good game from him: his experience was needed, and like the other more senior players (in which I'd weirdly count Eze, who played really well and felt like such an established player) in the side, he really stepped up.
5. DEFENCE: We should say before praising the defence that Leeds had no recognised striker and an extremely young side out. Still, we had young players too, and I thought the defence played well. Kakay had his problems with Alioski, mainly because Leeds stay so wide and we like our full backs to be nice and compact. But still, the last game he played agaonst opponents from this league was at West Brom. He must've been nervous, but didn't show it. Played well. Darnell Furlong proved again that he will at some stage become a centre back and will also one day be Captain of QPR. That man's dad may be Paul Furlong, but it's another Rangers great, Paul Parker, who his leap most reminds me of. Grant Hall, I am contractually obliged to say, looked rusty, especially early on, yet his comfort on the ball, his ability to get himself out of tough situations with a bit of skill, served him well and it was great to see him back. With no proper striker to mark, it was a perfect game for him. Christ, if he could get properly fit again he would be (checks contract, nods) Like a New Signing. And Bidwell did well, as said above.
Which leaves us with Matt Ingram. It all started well, with one particularly good punch from a corner, but then came the goal, which he knows, I know and we all know he should have dealt with comfortably, and then came the slight delay on kicking which resulted in a block and a slightly fortuitous goal kick. Out came our goalie coach, whose name I shamefully do not know, to helpfully make the 'fingers to temples' sign to Matt, which felt a little obvious, and yet seemed to do the trick. Ingram settled down, made some routine saves and then some very decent ones in a blemish-free second half. That took real character.
You have to feel for him. Well, I say that. But how many of us do. I absolutely *guarantee* someone will reply to this saying they did not hear this happening, but if you didn't, you just weren't paying attention or were perhaps concentrating hard on the game: the next, straight forward, save he made, our fans *our fans* cheered sarcastically. Not all of them. But quite a lot. After *one* mistake. I actually brought a Leeds friend along (he was very wll behaved, don't worry) and even he turned to me with wide eyes and open mouth. I mean seriously, are we not over this? We have a decent squad all working hard for the club, a manager doing a fine job, a CEO doing a fine job, a Director of Football who loves the club and is doing a fine job, we're near the play-offs, we're in good form, young players are getting chances. And still this sort of sh!t? What do those people think? 'Ah this'll make him feel better, I'll be sarcastic when he catches one?' Christ, I despair. And you'd think, for a Cup game, this would be our core, our really core fans, who aren't total assholes. Well done Ingram for having a good second half and shoving their pathetic sneering back up their backsides.
6. YOUTH: We saw quite a lot of it last season, particularly near the end, and it was disappointing if, in retrospect, understandable, that we saw less of it this season. But I can't help feel excited. We have Lumley, Furs and Eze as regulars. Chair looks like he might be someone who could step up, as do Oteh and BOS. And that's without even mentioning Smyth and Manning who, while, like Furs is not exactly a 'youngster', still came through the system to some degree. I mean, this is really exciting isn't it? Leeds did not have their first team out by a long way, but still: Kakay, Furs, BOS, Eze and Oteh all in the side from the start and no one looked overawed or out of place.
I've been convinced for weeks that injuries / suspensions / loss of form / McClaren's propensity to manage sides that fade badly after Christmas (or all of the above) will see us revert to type and we'll finish a little tamely, but still nice after the start we had, in a position between 11th and 16th. But this keeps being defied. Everyone said we were winning because of the loanees. But one barely played, two have been injured for weeks, and none played at all yesterday. And still we won.
Must. Stop. Optimism. Rising.
Stranger Things, though.
|Prediction||Prediction Logged by at 10:13:11|
Aston Villa v Queens Park Rangers prediction logged
|Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 3 Ipswich 0|
at 22:09 26 Dec 2018
Three goals, three points, three wins in a row - and three cheers for Steve McClaren who must be struggling to wipe that cheeky little smile off his face tonight as he contemplates those brief but audible chants of his name emanating from the Q Block.
1. UN-QPR: Add two more letters to our name. Not only has this team created history by being the first QPR side ever to win at Nottingham Forest, not only did they also beat Middlesbrough in horrible conditions and not fold like wet paper under their aerial bombardment, but they followed up those two wins by actually beating the bottom of the league team with minimal fuss. It might be the most Un-QPR team I've ever seen.
How many times over the years have QPR followed wonderful results with awful ones? It's almost nailed on. That's why I predicted a narrow win for Ipswich in the Prediction League. I'm not a pessimist, just a realist, and in most seasons this game would be ripe for a classic QPR cock-up. I should say I also predicted a loss because I'm superstitious. It feels like if I ever predict a win, it never happens, so I always err on the side of caution. Don't hate me.
This was by no means a masterclass from the Rs, though: we were a bit sloppy sometimes, showed a bit of tiredness and arguably should have gone hunting for more goals rather than slowing the game down against dreadful opponents who you could only feel sorry for as yet another pass ballooned out of play, safely to Lumley or handily into the path of a delighted Nahki Wells. And yet, this was pretty much as simple as it gets. QPR were the better side. They won. Comfortably.
Is this really QPR?
2. GOALSCORERS: No new scorers today, but goals again from familiar sources. We've scored 31 goals this season - not incredible, but not bad. About average, and that's where we are in the league - in the middle. Having said that, we've scored 16 in our last eight, so something has changed for the better.
In our play-off winning season, we were almost wholly reliant on Charlie Austin despite the absolute wealth of riches at our disposal. Without him, we'd have finished in mid-table. This season, and much as I'll love Charlie forever, it feels healthier that the goals are coming from all directions. In all competitions we have: Wells 6; Wszolek 6; Freeman 5; Eze, Hemed, Lynch 3. Makes us difficult to play against, that does. Teams may have decided Eze is the danger man, but if they're marking him tightly then space is appearing elsehwere and the other three forwards are all cashing in currently. Wells in particular is getting better and better. Can we keep him?
3. FREEMAN: Bang in form and all those worries about whether he could still influence games from wide have long since been banished. He's found a way to still be frequently involved despite being wide - partly due to he and Eze being able to fluently change positions every now and again, but also because he refuses to let games pass him by. He was very good again today - so difficult to knock off the ball, so deft and wily in possession and it goes without saying that yet again his dead ball delivery was superb. If he were to go in January, he would be a huge miss, but at least it'll take a proper bid to prise him away.
What I marvelled at today was the way he uses his upper body to shield the ball - he doesn't have what looks like a muscular body, yet he's always able to get his body in the way to stop challenges, and if the challenge comes anyway, he wins a free kick. It's clever, but also athletic. And he works so hard too - and knows his role, which is testament to McClaren. One moment today he began running in from the left to challenge a centre back, but checked and, realising his chances of winning the ball were low, retreated to instead cover his man, who might otherwise have received the ball in plenty of space. Great awareness - some fans do insist on players chasing every ball down, but good players know when to go and when not to.
4. BIDWELL: I don't often chat about Bids, so time for a bit of love for our marvellously consistent left back. Thought he had a very good game today, but that's Bids for you: rarely spectacular, but equally rarely does he have a stinker. Today he had his side of the defence locked down, he was good in possession, he got forward, he played intelligent balls, and he ran up and down that line all day long. It's a far cry from the days of a year ago when he was often asked bizarrely to be a left winger. I just like him - I think he's an important player, hard as nails, and he's having a fine season.
5. CHAIR: I had a bit of a go at Dylan on here the other day for his words about Eze, but it has to be said that he looked a little tired and out of sorts today. Not really surprising; I suspect he's played more minutes this season than possibly anyone in the squad bar perhaps Leistner or Bidwell. Maybe he could do with recharging those batteries a bit.
Still, his below par performance today gave a chance to Ilias Chair, a player it's impossible not to like. Absolutely bright as a button he is, smart as a whip, quick as a flash. And other similes. And the shape of Nick Barmby. His nimble movement and clever play brought us back to life as we threatened to sort of slog our way to a win rather than put Ipswich properly to the sword, and his best moment of course was his assist for Wells's sublime finish (the third time this season, incidentally, he's scored the third of three at the Loft End). He's busy, he looks after the ball, and he has a lovely pass. With injuries, Asian Cups and games piling up, we may be about to see more of him. Looking forward to it.
6. LYNCH: His last Boxing Day game was back in 2015 when Huddersfield put three past Preston (Wells got two that day, incidentally); and before that there was a 1-1 draw in 2013 (his red card of 14th Dec coming a game too early). After today, you'd start to think he really should play Boxing Day games more often.
Then you realise that in 2008 Forest got walloped 4-2 at home by Doncaster, and in 2007 Brighton were battered 3-0 at Millwall and in 2006 Brighton had their arses handed to them 3-1, at home, by Yeovil - and you start to realise why he might have tried to avoid Boxing Day games all these years. The poor young Lynchy was absolutely scarred by the festive games.
Not anymore, Lynchinho, not anymore.
|Prediction||Prediction Logged by at 22:36:28|
Queens Park Rangers v Ipswich Town prediction logged
|Prediction||Prediction Logged by at 23:06:26|
Nottingham Forest v Queens Park Rangers prediction logged
|Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 2 Boro 1|
at 11:08 17 Dec 2018
An unexpected and extremely satisfying three points against a team ripped from the pages of The BFG. Recent results felt and looked like a wobble even if we probably only played poorly in parts of games and arguably deserved more than two points out of 12. Still, this is a side that over the last two years has been prone to barren runs more barren than 95-year-old Baron Barren, the impotent Baron of Barrenshire. So a win, and a very good performance, was relieving, welcome and fully deserved.
1. BORO: I don't think I've ever started a knee jerks talking about the opposition, but like Clive in his report, I can't help it. Jesus wept. This is a side with some very decent players in it. Howson, Hugill, Assombolonga, Ayala, Clayton, Downing. I mean, these are not sh!t players, but almost none of them did much of note on Saturday through no real fault of their own. In the first half they were direct - as you'd expect. In the second, it was genuinely the worst, most naked, dullest, bone-headed, creatively-bankrupt 45 minutes of 'football' from a team with that sort of talent in it that I've ever seen.
At Cambridge, John Beck used to make sure the grass was a bit longer at the end of the pitches so his teams could hit long balls into the corners and then get crosses in. They played the channels, got in behind teams. That was ugly enough. This didn't even have that. This was simply one long game of humping the ball from behind the halfway line long, straight and high. Our biggest player (once Lynch had gone off) was probably only taller than two of Boro's entire side, and yet our defence, shorn of its usual full back, with a rookie keeper, and one centre back hobbling off with less than hour gone, actually dealt with this quite easily. Boro had one meaningful shot in the game, and it went in. They didn't even deserve that.
And I feel for their players and their fans. This was anti-football at it's worst. Pulis has a team that should win promotion, that has had money lavished on it, and effectively he's saying, 'this is all I can do with this lot.' And to think some people wanted him here at one stage. Jesus Christ. The bloke should be banned from the game. This isn't what this sport is. They aren't in a relegation dogfight, with no money and no players. They're a team who should be challenging for the title. And that's how they play? Their fans deserved more, I felt sorry for their midfield (genuinely, he might as well play 5-0-5), and Assombalonga was completely wasted.
You look at our team, which must be one of the smallest in the league, and think this is the kind of team that Boro should steamroller. Maybe in the past they would have. But there was steel from Rangers, steel and boldness and resolve; a determination to defend the crap thrown at them and to still try and play actual football, with passing and stuff. The short corner routine that almost brought a goal for Eze was a better moment, produced in about 3 seconds, than Boro managed in the entire game. After their equaliser, I felt we would probably crumble. We didn't, and Wells's winner was the least we deserved.
And what's Pulis's reaction? To blame the ref. OK mate. Nothing to do with your absolute, craven inability to do anything with that side other than exhort them to lump long, high balls towards the penalty box at every opportunity, then? He added: 'Because of the situation with us not scoring goals, the team is trying their damnedest to win a game of football. The players have reacted to the fact that we haven't been scoring and, in their desperation to score, we've lost our shape a bit.' Shape? What shape? Why do you need shape to play the way you make them play? Boro fans deserve more than this utter sh!t.
On the QPR pod the other week there was talk that 'it's well known' Freeman wants to leave. But, surely, he can't have watched that and thought to himself 'I'd play for that lot'. What would be the point?
2. WELLS: And now the goals are coming too. He's been playing well all season, but the goals were missing. Slowly they came at first, but now with more regularity, which is lucky, because Hemed seems to be out for a while. Saturday was possibly his best game for us and for a player so slight and, while not short, not exactly tall, he plays that lone striker role incredibly well. His movement is good. His control is good. He battles, he niggles, he puts his foot in, he's creative and he scores goals. Love him.
At 1-1 and with Lynch off, I was thinking that SMac must've been tempted to bring Wells off and stick Smith on, mainly to help out at the back on set pieces. I wouldn't, in truth, have blamed him. Steve spoke about how the gamble of removing Cameron v Hull didn't pay off as we conceded soon after, but the pleasing thing here was that he kept trusting his players and didn't make a panic substitution. He's been criticised, with some fairness, for leaving subs too late, but here his bold decision to delay bringing on Smith paid off as Wells not only scored the winner, but continued to be a thorn in Boro's side.
And it was a smart goal too. While Randolph's positioning can be questioned, Wells deserves credit for using the melee in front of him as a shield to bend the ball around the unsighted keeper. It looked odd going in so centrally, but Randolph barely saw it until it was past him. Really good performance from Wells.
3. FURLONG: I'm a big fan of Darnell - I've said before and I'll say again, I think eventually he'll be a centre back and it wouldn't surprise me if he wasn't one day QPR captain. Before this game some worried about throwing him in against such a tough side, particularly against George Friend who he's had trouble with before, but I wasn't particularly worried. One of the best things about Furs II is that he continues to improve. I thought he had a great game on Saturday in tough conditions against a team of giants. but his pace and ability in the air really helped us. Even when he went to centre back, he just continued playing his game and dealt with everything that came his way.
Well, nearly everything, he must be annoyed that his error, whether it was due to indecision or a slip (he was even unlucky the ball didn't hit him on its way into the net, actually), that led to their equaliser. Still, for a first game back, it was an impressive performance and we'll need more of them over Christmas, particularly as it looks like he'll have to play centre back while Lynch, er, recovers.
4. LEISTNER: I imagine that sort of bombardment is less common in Germany, but nevertheless, he never looked bothered did he? It was like he had a magnet in his head. Constantly heading the thing away he was. Constantly. Unflustered, unhurried, using his strength and his bloody-mindedness, Toni led from the back with the sort of iron will we saw against Villa a few weeks back. And then when Lynch went off, he simply stepped it up. It was like he thought, 'well, I'll just have to win even more of the ball then', so he did. Hugill won't fancy another crack at him for a while.
5. PAV: I love Pav. But even I have to admit that since the international break he's gone off the boil and hasn't been performing to the standards he set himself earlier in the season. A decent argument was beginning to build to give BOS a bit of a run in his place, offering us a bit more explosive pace. But Saturday was Pav back to his best. A goal at his favoured School End (his willingness to get into the box, incidentally, is key to the 4-2-3-1 system working properly), some good crosses, an assist and, of course, his ludicrous, scarcely credible ability to run his arse off up and down that wing all afternoon with just a little pause for tea and oranges and/or pierogi at half time. One run in the second half, where he outstripped their entire team, and which must've seen him carry the ball for a minimum of 60 yards all the way to the byeline defied belief. And for that sort of thing, you must love him dearly, no matter who you are. And that is why the ref did not book him - not for a blatant rugby tackle, nor for a tired, naughty, 'i know I won't get the ball, but whatevs' tackle from behind towards the end. How could you book him? He's just too loveable.
6. COUSINS: I'm still Team Cousins. I think he's had a horrible time here, mainly because of injury but also because he's never had a run at central midfield. His chance came on Saturday and F me, did he fancy it. Three hard, snappy tackles in the opening 5 minutes set the tone for the whole side, to tell Boro that we weren't going to be pushed about. Thereafter, he was perpetual motion, winning tackles, blocking and using the ball well. But, of course, the poor lad ended up at right back. He cannot catch a break. Still, he did just as well there and one overlapping run past Pav was particularly impressive coming as it did so late in the game.
He leaves SMac with a decision to make in the next couple of games - most likely three - thanks to Lynch's injury. Does he recall Kakay to the defence for the first time in the league since the Albion debacle and play Cousins in midfield? Or does Cousins play full back, with Scowen, who played well himself, restored tot he side alongside Luongo? Or does Baptiste come into the equation? Or Hall? Well, not Hall. Is there anyone else?
Still, I hope Cousins continues his form - the bloke deserves a bit of luck.
|Prediction||Prediction Logged by at 12:57:32|
Queens Park Rangers v Middlesbrough prediction logged
|Prediction||Prediction Logged by at 18:04:10|
Queens Park Rangers v Middlesbrough prediction logged
|Prediction||Prediction Logged by at 11:00:19|
Leeds United v Queens Park Rangers prediction logged
|Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 2 Hull 3|
at 13:13 3 Dec 2018
People laughed when Stewart Lee once took the p!ss out of a cab driver for saying 'you can prove anything with facts', but maybe that cab driver was in fact extremely wise. On the one side, we've only lost two in 10 and only one of our last five at home. On the other hand, after a great run, we now only have one win in five and it could feel like we're slipping down the other side of the mountain. This is the life of a QPR fan. And, in fact, contrary to popular belief, the life of fans at the vast majority of clubs. Take the rough with the smooth - you have to, because what choice do you have?
1. DEFENCE: I started getting concerned after the two quick (and poor) goals given away at Rotherham, and now I'm worried we've returned to the dark days of the start of the season. That's nine in four games now after shipping just three in the previous six. I'm not quite sure what has happened, but a lot of the goals to me appear to be down to some basic errors: giving the ball away in a dangerous area (twice on Saturday); goalkeeping error (v Brentford); defensive gifts (Stoke); awful defending from set pieces (last three games). What started as unusual blips after weeks of excellent concentration and heroic effort, is now feeling more like a pattern.
On Saturday Leistner looked exhausted, Rangel looked tired and was struggling with high diagonal balls, Lynch had another poor game after his magnificent October and early November, and Bidwell was below par. All three goals were highly avoidable (although the third was less about defence and more about a poor ball by Hemed) - but worse than that was that, particularly in the first half, we looked vulnerable almost every time Hull attacked.
I'm not quite sure what's gone wrong, but I suppose the main thing to look at is that we've also started scoring a lot more goals while we've been conceding. Perhaps the balance isn't quite right. Or perhaps the team as a whole was understandably tired after having to chase a game for the third time in a week.
2. FIRST 20: Not quite sure what was going on in the first 20 minutes on Saturday, but it was pretty dire, or, being kinder, tired stuff. Sloppy passing, slow to the ball, second balls lost, defensive frailty. You can't start a game that slowly. It was similar to the Rotherham game - we looked ok on the front foot, but anything that came at us we looked scarily vulnerable. The first goal I saw coming the moment Bidwell and Lynch got in a mix up - as soon as we didn't win that first ball, the result was almost inevitable.
We've had two really hard away games, whereas Hull had two home games, albeit one against Norwich, so perhaps that had affected things, I don't know. Once we did wake up, we probably had our best spell after their second goal and really should've gone in at the break on level terms after creating some great chances, forcing some good saves and seeing a shot crack the post. Still, we need to start better than that.
3. SUBS: The 'Plan B' at the moment is to revert to a midfield diamond, keeping Eze behind two strikers, but with Freeman pushing in and Luongo going wider. It's not a bad plan and it worked against Rotherham. But on Saturday we were crying out for width. Dave Mc even called it on Twitter very early on - we weren't pressurising their full backs with pace, and there was joy to be had there.
That was proven late on (very late on) when Osayi-Samuel was finally introduced, picking splinters out of his backside as he ran onto the pitch. He had five minutes plus injury time to make an impact, and he didn't get near the ball for the first four. But then he delivered three quality balls intothe box, terrorised their full back and helped produce a goal. You went away thinking that had he come on even five minutes earlier we might have salvaged a draw.
Having a Plan B that the team understands and can switch to quickly is only common sense, and marks a change from last season where you'd frequently see Freeman or Scowen in long conversations with the bench following a couple of changes made by the manager. But we need one that involves BOS, because he can change games and he does give us an extra gear with his pace. It seemed bizarre it took SMc so long to bring him on when we had three strikers up there just gagging for a cross or two.
4. EZE: Not a knock on Eze at all, it was a tough game and he struggled to find space. I think he's been brilliant this season and of course your first instinct is to keep him on. However, he's played almost every minute of every game, and I think that Saturday was one of the rare games when he should have been sacrificed. It wasn't happening, and moving him further and further back into midfield only nullified him further.
Keeping him on is understandable, because he can change a game quickly, get a goal out of nothing. But earlier this season McClaren made a huge decision when he decided only one of Wells and Hemed could start a game. It was a tough one, but the right one, and the one that benefited the team the most. Here a similar thing was needed. On Sunday, Jurgen Klopp sacrificed a misfiring Salah, and (foirtunately) got the result he needed. And that's the lesson. Eze may in some ways, with Freeman, be our best hope at finding a goal, but when you're loading the box, it's easy to defend if there's no threat out wide to stretch the defence. Every now and again, it's ok to sub the wonderkid.
5. BOWEN, GROSICKI, CAMPBELL: A quick word on Hull. I hate it when fans say one team was useless, thereby giving no credit at all to the opposition. The fact was, Hull played very well - that's worth noting. We caused them problems, but I thought Elphick played well at the back and the keeper made some fine saves. But it was up front where I was most impressed. Campbell's movement, pace and strength was very good - probably the best I've ever seen from him for years. And we struggled badly to get the ball off Bowen or Grosicki, who dribbled well and passed intelligently and held it up when they needed to. With those three on the offence, you'd expect Hull to start doing a little better.
6. ADDITIONAL TIME: I say 'additional time', but only officials, commentators and tw@ts call it that. It's injury time or, at a pinch, 'stoppage time', isn't it? I thought the ref was not great throughout - not biased, particularly, just poor. One case in particular when we had a yellow dished out and then he failed to issue one to a Hull player for an almost identical offence was particularly irritating. Inconsistency is worse when the two decisions are just moments apart. But it was injury time that was my biggest bugbear. Campbell was down for a minute before the board even went up (89-90), hinting that if he hadn't have been down, it would only have been three. I just cannot see it. I was genuinely expecting 6, with 5 as an absolute minimum. I don't care too much about time wasting, everyone does it, Hull were no worse than anyone else really. But the ref has to add that time on. On Saturday in the second half he spoke tom players two or three times about it, twice did some time-consuming business of doing a drop ball, we had goals, subs etc. 4 minutes was flabbergasting. I'm not blaming the ref for us losing, I hate that, but I thought the timing was badly wrong in Saturday.
|Prediction||Prediction Logged by at 22:50:49|
Queens Park Rangers v Hull City prediction logged
at 10:08 30 Nov 2018
As we're all quite happy (at least until the meltdown after tomorrow's inevitable 1-0 defeat), I've been developing a theory about this MB.
Is it me, or is it a much nicer, friendlier place to be than it was a few years ago? There are discussions, but nasty ones are now few and far between (not eradicated completely). Even me and paulparker agree on about 90% of stuff these days.
Why is it? I'm thinking it could be age. We're all getting older and the young blood isn't coming through. The young firebrands and tyros spill their utter nonsense on social media instead. I think that's good. We may be getting older here, but it's a haven of relative sanity.
But does that mean LFW will one day wither, like an old Rotary Club?
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