|Queens Park Rangers 1 v 1 Derby County|
Saturday, 6th October 2018 Kick-off 15:00
And for our third trick - Preview
Friday, 5th Oct 2018 17:10 by Clive Whittingham
Fresh from a miraculous second away win of the season on Tuesday, QPR look to close our this latest clutch of fixtures before the international break with a win against Derby.
QPR (4-1-6, WWLLLW, 17th) v Derby County (5-2-4, LDWDLD, 8th)
Lancashire and District Senior League >>> Saturday October 10, 2018 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Damp >>> Travel – No Hammersmith and City Line >>> Loftus Road, London, W12
There were a few ‘easy wins’ for Steve McClaren to target when he took over as Queens Park Rangers manager in the summer, and despite an at-times-alarming start to the 2018/19 season he’s well on the way to accomplishing a couple of them.
The first was the club’s dire away record. Just three wins on the road last season, and few signs from Ian Holloway that he really knew what to do about it. A brief flutter of competence in March which saw four points taken from the eventual play-off finalists Villa and Fulham quickly melted back into five straight defeats to finish the season. QPR only won seven away games during Holloway’s whole second stint with us, and two of those were against a dire Birmingham side at St Andrews. McClaren has already won two out of six, following the midweek win at Reading. Even a moderate final total of six or seven would be a huge improvement on the previous few seasons – had QPR turned four of their 14 away defeats last season into wins they’d have been top half and six points shy of the play-offs.
The second is the lack of clean sheets. Rangers only kept seven in 2017/18 out of 46 league games, and that’s simply not enough, particularly when you’re trying to compete with strikers of the standard of Matt Smith, Idrissa Sylla and Conor Washington, and a midfield that has found it difficult to chip in many of its own in recent seasons. QPR’s defending has had me churning enough stomach acid to burn a hole in the hull of a ship at times this season, and only Preston have conceded more than our 18, but the win on Tuesday night was already the fourth clean sheet we’ve kept, resulting in three wins and a draw. Seven really shouldn’t be too difficult to top from here.
The third comes this Saturday against Derby. McClaren’s team, like that of his predecessors, has proven adept so far at taking points from the teams at the bottom end of the league. The four wins so far have come against Millwall and Reading who are below us, Bolton who surely soon will be, and Wigan who are a surprise package but many expected to struggle. That’s very in keeping with what’s gone before.
QPR have basically been sixteenth in this league for two and a half years now, rarely moving more than a place or two in either direction under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Ian Holloway or now Shexy Schteve, who has us seventeenth as we go into tomorrow’s game. And that’s been a very fair reflection of exactly how good our team is at this level. It regularly beats the teams below sixteenth, tends to win one and lose one against the teams just north, and almost never takes anything from the top sides. There are anomalies of course – our ongoing aversion to anything looking vaguely like Nottingham Forest saw us lose twice and concede nine goals to them last year despite finishing higher in the league, and runaway champions Wolves were beaten at Loftus Road along with play-off finalists Aston Villa at Villa Park. But, essentially, give or take, you’ve been able to draw two lines a third and two thirds of the way down this division and know what QPR will do with the teams in the three sections.
Last season there were eight teams below us by the end. We took four points from Sunderland, Burton, Barnsley and Bolton and were an injury time penalty miss away from doing the same to Reading. We took three points off Hull and six from Birmingham – our only double. Of the six teams immediately above us, we tended to win one and lose one, with three points coming from two games against Norwich, and Sheff Utd, four from Ipswich and Sheff Wed, one from Bristol City and none from Leeds. Of the 18 fixtures against the nine clubs higher than that, QPR won only three (Cardiff H, Wolves H, Villa A) and lost ten. As league tables go, that’s a pretty profound set of results, showing exactly how good we are at this level – sixteenth.
It’s followed through this season too, with defeats already to the teams in third, fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth. The highest placed team we’ve beaten is ninth placed Wigan, and most are expecting them to come back down our end of the table pretty soon anyway. The other victories have come against twenty second, twentieth and fifteenth.
In two games against teams relegated from last year’s Premier League we’ve lost twice and conceded ten goals. With our oft-mentioned financial situation (entirely of our making), competing with those on maximum parachute payments, or clubs throwing good money after bad in a Harry Redknapp-style all on black gamble, is going to be tough. But it’s the games, particularly at home, against those clubs south of the play-off places but north of us that represents a third marginal gain for McClaren to target. Derby have started reasonably well under Frank Lampard, and one of their pair of eye-catching Premier League loans made the full England squad this week, but they looked tired against Norwich in the week and are one of the clubs in that middle group at the moment – sitting eighth.
So let’s see…
Geoff Cameron facts #6 – Geoff was once comprehensively beaten in a 100m sprint race by a shop mannequin.
Team News: QPR are likely to stick with the 4-2-3-1 set up which worked against Millwall and Reading, though Steve McClaren has hinted that he will rotate the ‘1’ with Nahki Wells on the bench and Tomer Hemed starting. Three games in a week may well be too much for Geoff Cameron, Josh Scowen would be the natural replacement if he doesn’t make it. Darnell Furlong and Mide Shodipo are the long term absentees and this week’s prize for a sighting of Sean Goss is a free iPad that comes with a position on the QPR coaching staff.
Curtis Davies hasn’t played since the opening day of the season for Derby owing to a bad case of the Mondays but came through 70 minutes in the U23s during the week so is close to a return. George Evans is also back in training after a touch of ebola, but he doesn’t fancy the bus journey so won’t be risked.
Elsewhere: Dear God, please let Ipswich Blue Sox win at Swansea this weekend. We’re there after the international break and we’re looking forward to a nice day with a few beers by the harbour and the potential of a magnificent third away win of the season. But we all know that under the John Jensen Act of 1994 if they still haven’t won their first game of the season by the time we get there then they’ll suddenly start playing like the Netherlands World Cup final team of 1978 and we’ll be the footballing equivalent of a morning spent clearing up the overnight effluent of a bed bound elderly relative.
Elsewhere, Steve Bruce has finally been packed on his way by Aston Villa, with a farewell cabbage to mark his two years of service. Now he may have been allowed to spend £12m on a striker on three separate occasions, and then given some more money to loan Lewis Grabban and Tammy Abraham when it turned out he’d wasted that £36m; and he may have been allowed to add £25m Yannick Bolasie to the Albert Adomah he already had in that position and then benched them both; and despite having Gentleman Jack Grealish, Bolasie, Adomah, Conor Hourihan, Abrahm, Jonathan Kodija, Scott Hogan, John McGinn and Henri Lansbury at his disposal he still has Glenn Whelan (no goals for seven years) taking his penalties… but he insists the job is impossible, and nobody will want it. Millwall, with one win all season, probably a bit gutted he didn’t hang on another game ahead of this weekend’s meeting at The Den.
The Wall, as we’re calling them these days apparently, came from 2-0 down to snatch a 2-2 in injury time in the midst of a floodlight failure at Nottingham Trees during the week. Forest have drawn eight of 11 this season, with Aitor Karanka in charge, who would have thought it? Another one on the cards up at Middlesbrough this Saturday one would think. Borussia Norwich can go nine unbeaten by avoiding defeat at home to struggling Stoke this weekend. Manager Daniel Farke dodged the manager of the month award though, which went to Darren Moore following West Brom’s late comeback at Sheffield Owls in the week to keep them in the top four – they’re at home to Reading on Saturday.
What else can we help you with? Sheffield Red Stripes look like a shoo in at home to Allam Tigers, who are apparently about to be bought out by the same chairman that bankrupted them last time who is, wait for it, keen to explore opportunities to develop the land around the stadium. Out of the frying pan there. Preston at home to Wigan is a battle of two teams most expected to be the other way around in the league this year. You can keep Birmingham v Rotherham, you’re welcome to it.
Sky Sports Leeds are showing… Leeds v Brentford (who will be the best team Leeds have played so far). They are prising themselves away from Elland Road long enough to do Bolton v Blackburn on Saturday evening though, which is good of them.
Referee: Although David Webb has been on the league list for a decade, and did the League Two play-off final between Coventry and Exeter last season, this ishist first ever QPR game and so there’s no point whatsoever in you clicking here.
QPR: Showing you can prove anything with statistics, only Preston (24) have conceded more goals than QPR (18) this season, and yet the win at Reading during the week was a fourth clean sheet in the league this season already for a team that only managed seven in the whole of last season. So the defence is either getting much better or much worse? We’d conceded 15 league goals this time last season, for further comparison. QPR have only drawn once so far this season, 0-0 at Birmingham, which is the joint lowest total along with third-placed Sheffield United. At home they’ve beaten Wigan 1-0 and Millwall 2-0 but lost to Sheff Utd 2-1, Bristol City 3-0 and Norwich 1-0. Last season it took until December 16 and the eleventh attempt to record a first away win of the campaign. The 1-0 at Reading on Tuesday means the R’s have already posted two this season in the first six trips and are already just one shy of last season’s overall total of three.
Derby: It’s been an up and down start to managerial life for Frank Lampard at Derby, who sit eighth in the table coming into this one. Technically they’ve only won one of the last six, 3-1 at home to Brentford (who were the best team they’ve played so far) on September 22, although one of the three draws in that sequence was the 2-2 at Man Utd followed by a memorable win on penalties in the League Cup. Away from home in the league they’ve lost their last two without scoring, at Bolton and Rotherham, having started the season with wins at Reading and Hull either side of a defeat at Millwall on the road. New England call up Mason Mount has had more than twice as many shots on target (14) as any other Derby player – Tom Lawrence is second with six. Mason Bennett has made 45 senior appearances (14 starts) for the Rams without ever completing 90 minutes.
Prediction: Elliott Cooke (@cookiee42, Elliott42) won last year’s Prediction League to claim the merch from our sponsor Art of Football. Get involved here or sample the merch from our sponsor’sQPR collection. They’ve kindly agreed to provide prizes to the overall winner AND whoever is top at Christmas. Reigning champ Elliott tells us…
“McLaren rightly changed system on Tuesday night and it paid off. He again lives to fight another day. Derby’s away record under Fat Frank isn’t great so far this season. I’m sure he’ll get a cracking reception on his arrival with his previous links. I’m not sure we’ll have enough to win it but I think both teams will be happy with a point.”
Elliott’s Prediction: QPR 1-1 Derby. Scorer – Ebere Eze
LFW’s Prediction: QPR 1-1 Derby. Scorer – Ebere Eze
The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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