|Queens Park Rangers 1 v 3 Brentford|
Monday, 28th October 2019 Kick-off 19:45
Free scoring QPR and improving Bees poised for derby classic - Preview
Monday, 28th Oct 2019 12:10 by Clive Whittingham
A couple of weeks ago QPR looked hot favourites to exact a bit of revenge for their various shellackings by Brentford in recent years, but the Bees' improving form now leaves tonight's derby delicately poised.
QPR (7-2-4, WLLWWD, 8th) v Brentford (5-3-5, DWDLWW, 13th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Monday October 28, 2019 >>> Kick Off 19.45 >>> Weather – Bright start clouding over >>> Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, Loftus Road, London, W12
For a little while there, this looked like being the Brentford season to end all Brentford seasons. The Brentford season they’d use to describe Brentford seasons in the Wikipedia entry for Brentford seasons.
As usual, a couple of well-scouted gems signed for modest fees a summer or two prior had been sold on for the debt of a small African country – Neal Maupay, Ezri Konsa and, to a lesser extent, Romaine Sawyers and Daniel Bentley all moved on for fees totalling a bajillion pounds. QPR, meanwhile trumpeted the £5m they got for Luke Freeman as some sort of real-life footballing re-enactment of Oceans 11. This time though, instead of burying the treasure, Brentford kept it and used it to buy things. You know, things they like.
One after the other they came in. Players you’ve never heard of. Lots of Danes. Frenchies from French clubs you had to look up. This one scores with 103% of the corners he takes with his left foot from the right-hand side. That one has the best pass completion record in any major European league since Juan Roman Riquelme was treading the boards for Villarreal. There’s a story about one of them being able to spray 35-56 yard diags right into the heart of the xG-spot with his unfavoured foot while balancing a bar stool on his chin and singing ‘my old man’s a dustman’ in Gujarati. They were really jolly pleased with themselves and pre-season predictions ranged from a not completely immodest first right down to the absolute worst case scenario of sixth. QPR, meanwhile, signed Dominic Ball on a free transfer after his unsuccessful spell with Rotherham United.
And then the football started. Brentford’s first game at home to Birmingham saw the Bees hold 76% of the possession, making 718 passes in the game and completing 85% of those successfully. Birmingham managed 190 pass attempts in the whole game – about two a minute. Brentford had 15 shots on goal, three on target, and scored none. Birmingham had one shot on goal, and by shot I actually mean a 25 yard header, and scored with that to win 1-0. The summer arrivals already looked like ‘typical Brentford’ signings when they were in the arrivals hall and my God on this evidence it was like they’d been at the club all their lives.
This sort of thing kept happening. They drew 1-1 at home to Hull, lost 1-0 at Leeds, and then by the same score at Charlton where they had 68% of the ball and 21 shots on goal to Charlton’s three. This game also included the unlikely spectacle of three last ditch goalline clearances from Charlton’s defenders and goalkeeper in the same 15 second spell at the end of the game. QPR, meanwhile, won at Stoke, Sheff Wed, Millwall and Hull. There was a home win against Derby for the Bees, but then a meek 2-0 loss at Preston followed by a goalless draw at home to lowly Stoke when, again, Thomas Frank’s side had 64% of the ball.
Now, wherever you are on the QPR-Brentford rivalry spectrum, isn’t really relevant to this. You could be the bloke who does the public address announcements at Griffin Park who can’t even bring himself to say the name of our club, referring to us steadfastly as ‘the opposition’ throughout our various tonkings to nil over in Hounslow, or you could be one of those QPR fans that likes to throw in how “we used to go to Griffin Park and watch Brentford when Rangers were away”. Anywhere in between is fine too. Whether you love them or loathe them, whether they’re three miles down the road or 300 miles up the M1, I’m afraid it is a stone cold fact that a club that bangs on about mathematical models and B Teams and xGs and being top of statistical ‘Justice Leagues’ getting beaten 1-0 at home by Birmingham City to an accidental headed goal from 25 yards while holding 80% of the possession and reigning 15 shots down on the goal at the other end without scoring is funny. I’m sorry, I don’t make the rules, that’s just the way it is. It’s funny. It is, trust me.
And it was funny last week as well when Millwall, who think xG is a make of cement, led 2-0 at Griffin Park with ten minutes of the game to go – again, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, Brentford had 68% of the possession and 23 shots to Millwall’s eight. Except that this time, it all paid off in the end, as the Bees scored on 84, 88 and 94 to turn the thing around and win 3-2. Bouyed by that, they’ve subsequently stormed into South Wales and beaten one of the division’s early pace setters Swansea 3-0 in a real statement of intent. Could it be that all these impeccably scouted Europeans have merely taken a little while to settle in, get used to the league, build partnerships together and are now ready to kick on for that play off push after all? And here we are, facing them in the week it clicks? QPR turning up tonight to sample a new comedy club they’ve heard so much about, could find themselves locked in an abattoir instead. The bookies actually have Brentford as favourites.
To avoid this, Rangers need to do some pretty obvious stuff, and some other more technical things. Obviously, you’re not going to get very far conceding goals of the quality and in the quantity that QPR are at the moment. They’ve shipped 14 in the last seven, and the majority have been defensively horrific. Goalkeeper’s passing straight to strikers, goalkeepers falling over 35 yard daisy cutters, opponents left unmarked in the six yard box, needlessly rash tackles made in our own area – just cutting out the basic catastrophes could take us so far this season, given that we could go second with a win tonight regardless. Brentford are without our perennial scourge Sergi Canos but have Benrahma and new boy Mbeumo coming into form and no doubt very excited about the prospect of running in behind two advanced full backs given the chance.
But Rangers need to go and play as well. The horrific defending hasn’t mattered to this point because the attacking has been so effective and that can bring us great joy again tonight if we get it right. We haven’t seen a properly fast start from our team since the blitz of Luton where we were 3-0 up after half an hour – that sort of high tempo stuff from the off tonight would be most welcome against a team that didn’t cope with that here last season when we started the second half in that manner. We also need to get back to Chair running on leaving space for Eze to revel in with Manning overlapping to his left, as worked so spectacularly at Hull but rather drained away in the face of a tactical victory for Reading here last Tuesday. Brentford will have seen that game and taken tips, but the suspension of Jordan Hugill might actually work to our advantage if it gets us back to a 4-2-3-1 with Bright Osayi-Samuel recalled so they can’t just copy that cheat sheet play for play.
The whole scenario leaves a game beautifully poised and promising tonnes of goals. So I’ll see you all in the Crown later ahead of tonight’s first 0-0 draw of the season.
Links >>> Bircham’s other Brentford goal – History >>> Bees showing dangerous signs – Interview >>> Tall stories – Podcast >>> Chuckles Woolmer – Referee >>> Brentford Official Website >>> Beesotted – Blog and Podcast >>> Griffin Park Grapevine – Forum >>> West London Sport, Brentford – News >>> The Brentford Drone – New Stadium Videos
Geoff Cameron Facts No.71 in the Series – Geoff Cameron thinks Brentford will probably be the best team we’ve faced all season.
Team News: Jordan Hugill’s race to five yellow cards has been completed in double quick time and he sits this one out on the naughty step – the fifth coming for the crime of being thrown to the ground by Reading’s Matt Miazga on Tuesday night. That might actually work in Rangers’ favour – not that Hugill hasn’t been effective for us this season, quite the opposite, but it’s likely to facilitate a return to a lone striker with three behind system that seems to suit us a lot better. Bright Osayi-Samuel is primed for a recall with Ebere Eze and Ilias Chair behind Nahki Wells although Warburton may decide to go with Marc Pugh who’s been enjoying longer spells off the bench of late. Josh Scowen, Dom Ball and Geoff Cameron seem to be competing for the two holding midfield roles with Luke Amos not in particularly great form after his hamstring injury in recent substitute cameos and the new Matt Smith vanished without trace. Take two from three for the centre back spots as well with Toni Leistner and Yoann Barbet the men in possession ahead of fit again Grant Hall. Angel Rangel is ahead of Todd Kane at right back and Ryan Manning continues to keep Lee Wallace waiting for his debut at left back.
Winger Sergi Canos, who always gives Rangers a tough time, has an exploded knee and is unlikely to play again this season. Nikos Karelis has done the same thing in solidarity with his team mate and will keep him company on the long rehab road. Luka Racic is fit to return to the defence again after a bout of scurvy but will have to wait for a chance. Two wins in a week is likely to see Thomas Frank name an unchanged side as he hunts a third in a row.
Elsewhere: Thanks to our Sky overlords we’re going last this weekend which means we know exactly what’s there for us in each scenario. A win would take QPR second in the table, behind West Brom who enjoyed and endured a remarkable 2-2 draw at home to surprise package Charlton on Saturday which featured a mistake identity red card, what they thought was a late winner with ten men from Hal Robson Kanu, and then a controversial injury time penalty leveller for the visitors. Referee Matt Donohue in eccentric form there.
Second at the moment at Preston Knob End who came from 2-0 down at home to the Mad Chicken Farmers to win 3-2. That result leaves Tony Mowbray’s side nursing a six match winless run in which they’ve conceded 13 goals. Two of the play off spots are currently occupied by the Champions of Europe and Sheffield Owls who fought out an entertaining but goalless draw on Sky Sports Leeds on Saturday lunchtime. Swanselona bounced back from their Brentford mauling with a 1-0 victory on the Eleventh Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour on Sunday. Bristol City are sixth despite being held 2-2 at home by Wigan Warriors.
The chasing pack has Seb and Hugo on 23 points, level with QPR. after a Saturday nil niler up at Middlesbrough.
Three teams on 22 points – Charlton after that draw at West Brom, Birmingham who got a deserved late 2-1 at home to Lutown, and Nottingham Florist whose cast of a thousand footballers got the weekend off thanks to a waterlogged pitch at their game with Hayes and Yeading. Allam Tigers have bounced back from the home loss to QPR by winning first at The City ground, and then again on Saturday at home to PSV Derby who drop to sixteenth. Maybe time for another one of those morale boosting team dinners.
The Fulham draw and Forest postponement leaves Boro and Reading either side of the dotted line on 12 points apiece. Poke City lost 2-0 at Millwall Scolars in Gary Rowett’s first game in charge to leave them in the bottom two on eight points, level with Grimethorpe Miners’ Welfare who lost 2-1 at Huddersfield Imps after blowing a lead at West Brom late during the week. They’ll go first next weekend with a home game against Bristol City on Friday night – next week’s exciting fixture between two teams beginning with B.
Referee: Well somebody on high is having a good laugh, giving this televised West London derby to Andy Woolmer and then making one of the very few referees worse than him, Keith Stroud, the fourth official. QPR’s extensive history with both is available here.
QPR: Last week’s draw with Reading means QPR, notoriously bad travellers, actually have a better away record than home one this season – four wins from six games on the road, three from seven at Loftus Road with two draws thrown in there as well. Only the bottom two, Stoke and Barnsley, have conceded as many as Rangers on their own patch this season – 13. That said, only top two West Brom and Preston along with Fulham have scored more at home than QPR’s 14. Overall, Barnsley, Stoke and Luton are the only teams to have conceded more than QPR’s 23 (Rangers have played a game fewer than all of them) and only West Brom and Preston have scored more than our 23. QPR lost 11 times at home in the league last season for the first time in the history of the club, but they came from behind to beat Brentford 3-2 before Christmas – one of nine home wins overall. Rangers’ top league scorers last season were Nahki Wells and Pawel Wszolek with seven each – Wells got nine and Matt Smith eight in all competitions. Those Championship totals have already been matched by Wells and Jordan Hugill following their goals against Reading, with Ebere Eze one further back on six after his brace at Hull.
Brentford An eye-catching summer of transfer activity raised expectations of Brentford among pundits and fans alike, but the late summer loss of Neal Maupay to Brighton seemed to weigh heavy on them initially with only one win in their first six league and cup games and two in the first nine. They failed to score in five of their first eight Championship games this season – losing 1-0 to Birmingham H, Leeds A and Charlton A, 2-0 at Preston and drawing 0-0 at home with lowly Stoke. Things have been picking up though, with four wins and two draws from their last eight games and they arrive into this one with two consecutive wins under their belts and six goals scored in total – 3-2 at home to Millwall having trailed 2-0 with ten to go, and then 3-0 at high flying Swansea in the midweek round last week. That was a third away win of the season so far following a 3-1 televised win at Barnsley where they trailed after a minute, and a 1-0 success up at Middlesbrough back in August. Ollie Watkins is joint second top scorer in the league with eight, including all three at Barnsley – he got 12 last season.
Prediction: Our Prediction League this year 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. Last year’s champion WokingR says…
“Clean sheet against Reading my arse, what a stupid idea that was. Can’t see anything different with the form Brentford are in so reckon another 2-2 with Wells first on the scoresheet again.”
Woking’s Prediction: QPR 2-2 Brentford. Scorer – Nahki Wells
LFW’s Prediction: QPR 3-2 Brentford. Scorer – Nahki Wells
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