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A very un-QPR display - Knee Jerks
Thursday, 27th Dec 2018 14:48 by Antti Heinola

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.

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?

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 six; Wszolek six; Freeman five; Eze, Hemed, Lynch three. 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 elsewhere and the other three forwards are all cashing in currently. Wells in particular is getting better and better. Can we keep him?

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pictures – PagePix

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JohnMcCo added 16:07 - Dec 27
Sorry to be pedantic but those chants came from the P block. The Q block was virtually empty, strangely.
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stneotsbloke added 16:25 - Dec 27
Just remember the great old saying that a pessimist is merely an optimist in possession of all the facts !!.
Eze can be a joy to watch but he seems to have run out of steam. Maybe he's knackered, maybe teams have sussed him out or maybe he's being asked to drop too deep but he's nowhere near as influential as he was earlier in the season. I think BOS deserves more than a ten minute cameo.
Steve McC and his staff have got this team very well organised with everyone knowing exactly what is required of them, all very different to this time last year.
Bring on Reading !!.
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Geoff78 added 17:26 - Dec 27
Pleased to see Antti's praise for Bidwell, who is very under-rated IMO. His work rate is great, he puts his body on the line with some great blocks (hard as nails - yes!) Over the last couple of years he has learnt to compensate for not having great pace and crossing the ball often being a challenge too far, by actually getting behind the full back or playing smart one-twos with Freeman.

And how very UnQPR it would be to beat Reading as well!
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CLAREMAN1995 added 18:05 - Dec 27
Great piece as always thank you
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