|Barnsley 3 v 0 Queens Park Rangers|
Tuesday, 27th October 2020 Kick-off 19:00
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Tuesday, 27th Oct 2020 12:56 by Clive Whittingham
QPR have all the opposite problems to the one that plagued them last season as they prepare to head to winless Barnsley this evening.
Barnsley (0-4-3, LDLDDD, 21st) v QPR (1-4-2, LDDDLD, 16th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Tuesday October 27, 2020 >>> Kick Off 19.00 >>> Weather – Wet, windy >>> Oakwell, Barnsley, South Yorkshire
If it’s not one thing it’s the other for Queens Park Rangers who’ve gone from a team that concedes for fun but has an attack capable of digging them out of trouble, to one that keeps clean sheets but couldn’t score with Danielle Lloyd.
It took QPR’s class of 2019/20 a full 22 attempts to keep a clean sheet and it wasn’t until game 31, at home to Leeds, that they registered a third shutout. Game 36, away at Swansea in February, was their first 0-0, and the draw at Forest a fortnight later was their second and last stalemate of the season. Now, just seven games into the 2020/21 campaign, Rangers already have three clean sheets, and two nil nil draws. Only five teams in the Championship drew fewer than our ten last year, but already this four of QPR’s seven games have finished tied.
This new found defensive frugality is offset by an attack as dry as a bucket of sand. Rangers have failed to score in their last three matches and have just six league goals in total. At this point last year they’d already won four games, and scored 12 times. Losing Jordan Hugill, Nahki Wells and Ebere Eze to be replaced by Lyndon Dykes, Macauley Bonne and Albert Adomah/Chris Willock was always going to have some affect, and that’s been keenly felt in the last week, with Dykes injured, where good chances to win were missed in draws with Bournemouth and Birmingham and we wouldn’t have scored against Preston if we were still there playing them now.
Rangers are currently burning through a run of games against the poorer teams in this league. Coventry, Middlesbrough, Sheff Wed, Birmingham and Barnsley have to be opportunities for points if you don’t want to find yourself in some form of trouble, and Mark Warburton’s side haven’t managed a win yet. They continue to struggle more than most without fans – only Birmingham (ten) have taken fewer points than QPR’s 15 since football resumed behind closed doors in June. On the other side of this weekend’s homer with Cardiff lies a run of five games out of eight away, with trips to Brentford, Blackburn, Derby and Millwall included, and only home games with Watford and Bristol City to break it up.
It’s already starting to feel like a quest to find three teams worse than us, and Sheffield Wednesday’s 12-point deduction is a bit of a God-send in that regard. Wycombe are yet to register a point, and have only scored twice – I think we can all see what’s coming down the pipe there on December 19. Among the others currently below us, you would think the hilarity of Derby and Forest’s early struggles will soon abate which means, among a few others, tonight’s opposition Barnsley need to be a team firmly in the crosshairs.
It was a home game against the Tykes that started this dire new normal we’re all suffering through currently. QPR, unbeaten in six, had spent lockdown talking up their outside play-off chances after breaking off just after an impressive 3-1 win at Preston. Even the bad Rangers teams beat Barnsley at home – 26 unbetaen going back to 1950 – but Gerhard Struber’s young team scored early, dominated the game, and deserved to win by more than the 1-0 they ended up with. The struggles continued with further losses against Charlton, Wigan, Fulham and most dreadfully Sheffield Wednesday. The hoops have won only three of 16 league games since the sport returned without fans.
Barnsley used that result as a springboard to go entirely in the other direction. Having won only one of their first 18 games of the season relegation seemed certain almost from minute one, another chance to yo-yo between the second and third tiers with near neighbours Rotherham United, as has happened in sequence for the last three seasons. But having posted three successive wins pre-lockdown to keep in touch, they then added a victory against Blackburn and draws with Millwall, Luton and Wigan to the Loftus Road success before a remarkable six-point haul in the final two matches, secured with injury time goals first against Nottingham Forest and then Brentford at Griffin Park.
The manner of that survival, the youthful exuberance of the team, the style of play, and the management of Struber made Barnsley the darling of Twitter’s growing army of xG analysis nonces when it came to writing their summer previews, with Barnsley placed as high as fifth in some columns. That hasn’t materialised, and with Struber frustrated by a slow transfer window and quickly having his head turned by New York Red Bulls the Red are already onto a second manager. They beat Forest and Boro in early League Cup games but are yet to register a league win and are also struggling for goals, having taken until game four to manage a first Championship score. We've seen this film before.
The new man in charge is Frenchman Valérien Ismaël, whose playing career took him from Strasbourg to Crystal Palace, Lens to Werder Bremen, Bayern Munich to Hannover 96. Bremen and Munich both won Bundesliga titles during his time there. This preceded a coaching career spent mainly in Germany, successfully with the reserve teams at Hannover and Wolfsburg, less so with the first teams at Nurnberg and Wolfsburg. He managed to get the sack at Greek club Apollon Smyrnis after six days and one defeat. Like Struber before him, Ismaël most recently enjoyed some success in Austria, leading LASK to the best league start in their history, a first every appearance in the Champions League play-offs, and then a first ever appearance in the Europa League.
New manager, team without a win to their name, we usually know exactly what that means when QPR are in town. The R’s can ill-afford another typical slip as we get underway at Oakwell at the revised time of 19.00.
Links >>> QPR burst Barnsley bubble – History >>> Tykes tumultuous start – Interview >>> Webb steps in for Davies – Referee >>> Barnsley Official Website >>> Yorkshire Post – Local Press >>> Sheffield Star – Local Press >>> BBS Fan Forum – Message Board >>> Reds Report – Podcast
Geoff Cameron Facts No.111 In The Series – Geoff can kill two stones with one bird.
Team News: I hear Bright Osayi-Samuel will not play tonight as his contract situation takes another twist. Chris Willock, presumably, in line for a full debut if he doesn’t make the line-up. Lyndon Dykes and Albert Adomah both started on Saturday but were only deemed fit enough for an hour of action. Lee Wallace left the field in the field half with a nasty looking injury so expect a first start of the season at left back for Niko Hämäläinen.
Barnsley’s new head coach Valérien Ismaël takes charge for the first time tonight after caretaker Adam Murray secured three draws from his three games in charge. Cauley Woodrow has three goals to his name already this season but limped out of Saturday’s draw at Millwall during the warm up and is a doubt tonight along with Jordan Williams who’s got something in his eye. Callum Styles has missed the last three games with an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach but he’s back in training ahead of tonight.
Elsewhere: The Reading bandwagon rolls on, still unbeaten after a sixth win in seven games at home to Rotherham at the weekend, and already five points clear at the top of the fledgling league table. Big test tonight though, away at the Mad Chicken Farmers who rammed four through Coventry at the weekend. The Sky Blues will attempt to recover from that mauling away to the Thirteenth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour tonight, while Rotherham have a South Yorkshire derby with Sheffield Owls tomorrow night – one the Millers will really want to avoid defeat in as they attempt to keep their neighbours as one of three teams below them thanks to the points deduction.
There’s another clash between two of the early pacesetters with justice league leaders Spartak Hounslow almost certainly the best team fifth placed Borussia Norwich have faced all season. The prospect has fried Allo Allo’s Daniel Farke well in advance of kick off.
Swanselona v Stoke is an exciting clash between two teams beginning with S, and Wycombe v Watford a similarly thrilling prospect between two teams beginning with W. Wycombe, sadly, still six weeks or so away from their first win of the season scheduled in for December 19.
Tomorrow, some proper attritional Championship fare. Preston Knob End at home to Millwall, without manager Gary Rowett who has the rona, Birmingham City v Huddersfield, grrrrrrrrr. Bournemouth and Bristol City have started well and face each other. Wayne Rooney has been made to wait another week to take over the 24 Hour Beer and Brass after an improved performance and draw at Forest on Friday night, but Cardiff represent a stiffer challenge at Pride Park tomorrow night. Wayne like fire, fire keep Wayne hot.
And of course we wish Nottingham Florist and their cast of a thousand footballers safe passage and good luck getting to Lutown and back.
Referee: From a referee that loves us, Andy Davies, we’ve been switched to one with whom we haven’t won in five attempts and have been on the end of some highly questionable rubbish. David Webb’s case history is here.
Barnsley: The Tykes won seven and drew three of their final 14 games last season to preserve Championship status against the odds, including last minute victories against Forest and Brentford in the final two games. Their form under lockdown was good, beginning with a first win at QPR in 27 attempts dating back to 1950, and featuring only two defeats in the final nine games, giving rise to plenty of optimism ahead of 2020/21 – the first time they were in the same division as the year before for six seasons. They beat Forest (1-0) and Boro (2-0) in the early League Cup games without conceding, but that’s as good as it’s got so far. They await a first league win, with four draws and three defeats. They failed to score in any of their first three league games. Adam Murray got three draws from three games as caretaker manager, and has them scoring again with 2-2 draws against Stoke and Bristol City. They’ve conceded 16 times in ten matches so far, although that’s substantially boosted by a 6-0 cup loss at Chelsea. At home so far they’ve been beaten by Luton (1-0), drawn with Coventry (0-0) and got a last minute penalty out against Bristol City (2-2).
QPR: Rangers won on the opening day against Forest, but have drawn four and lost two since. Macauley Bonne’s last minute equaliser at Sheff Wed four games ago was the last time they scored, with blanks drawn in various circumstances against Bournemouth, Preston and Birmingham. The three clean sheets kept so far is half the number managed in the whole of last season, and the two nil nil draws in the last week equals the total from 46 games last season. But QPR have won only six of 26 games now, and just two of their last 17 away from home – a run that started with a 5-3 defeat on this ground last December. They’ve only won three competitive games in 17 outings since football returned behind closed doors.
Prediction: We’re indebted to The Art of Football for once again agreeing to sponsor our Prediction League and provide prizes. The squad is updated and you can get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Last season’s champion Mase offers us this…
“Barnsley haven't a league win yet but have had some decent performances and creditable draws along the way, and although it wouldn't surprise me if this were another draw, let's be positive. We are due to scrape a goal, and win, from somewhere.”
Mase’s Prediction: Barnsley 0-1 QPR. Scorer – Lyndon Dykes
LFW’s Prediction: Barnsley 1-0 QPR. No scorer
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