|Blackburn Rovers 3 v 1 Queens Park Rangers|
Saturday, 7th November 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Draw machine Guinevere, set of balls number six - Preview
Friday, 6th Nov 2020 17:06 by Clive Whittingham
QPR, two wins in a week of immense effort and great travelling distance, head to injury ravaged Blackburn Rovers at the end of the latest extreme burst of Championship fixtures.
Blackburn (3-2-5, LLDLLW, 17th) v QPR (3-4-3, DLDLWW, 16th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday November 7, 2020 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – For the first time since 1994, it’s not raining >>> Ewood Park, Blackburn, Lancs
Christ this feels so much easier after a win. And QPR have had a good week too.
The win at Derby on Wednesday was important for a multitude of reasons. All the obvious stuff like any win being good, any points being good, any climb away from the relegation zone being good, anything away from home being good. And then some stuff that’s particular to us, to do with our propensity to play quite well but spurn chances and lose, dominate games for short periods but eventually slump to defeat, and a chronic inability to pick up points away from Loftus Road or without crowds.
That was a 90-minute performance on Wednesday, to go with the 20 minutes we produced at Barnsley, and the 45 against Cardiff. We dominated for the majority of the game, and in the periods where we did come under pressure our goalkeeper and centre backs were up to the task – that hasn’t been the case for sometime now, and Seny Dieng and Rob Dickie have certainly made a difference, even allowing for Dickie’s aberration at Oakwell last week. Four clean sheets already, just two off the 2019/20 total. It was also a second consecutive win, something else we’ve struggled with in recent times as outlined in the Derby preview. All of this is, of course, tempered and contextualised by Derby’s results so far and performance on the night. They looked like a team ushering its manager towards the door, heralding a brave new dawn of inspirational speeches and tactical acumen from Wayne Rooney, delivered between mouthfulls of Marlboro Red and his mate’s grandmother’s box. So what comes next will be interesting.
Blackburn is a particularly unhappy hunting ground for us, with no wins, or even really hints of wins, since Stuart Wardley and Kevin Gallen got Brian Kidd the sack here more than 20 years ago now. Last season’s loss on this ground was absolutely typical of the worst of this current crop, with Adam Armstrong given as much time and space as he wanted to score the first goal, and Darragh Lenihan the latest in a long line of powerful aerial threats left totally unmarked to head home a goal off a corner. We lost here 1-0 the previous year, to an eighty-seventh minute goal from the penalty spot, and while our defensive numbers are improving this term, we are once again leading the league in penalty concessions for the third consecutive campaign – five already.
I’m sure Warbs Warburton, in an ideal world, would like to keep the same team that has won two games already and looked to be growing in confidence as Wednesday night drew on. I think we have to be realistic about that, and his substitutions which I’ve seen landing somewhere between questionable and pilloried in recent weeks but are being done with a greater and deeper knowledge of the physical state of the players than we have access to. Do you really think he wants to be taking Lyndon Dykes and Albert Adomah off after an hour? Of course not. But football, in its wisdom, has decided that every single one of the league, cup and international games from a normal season must be completed again in this truncated, obviously abnormal calendar, and so you have situations like Dykes’, who has played 16 times already for three different sides including three games in less than a week in the last international “break” for Scotland. He is, once more, in the travelling party for their three matches next week, though suspended for one. Luke Amos is out long term, Bright Osayi-Samuel could do no more after an hour during the week, and all of this left several players who were running their blood to water for us at Pride Park to do 90 minutes. Ilias Chair, in particular, seemed to cover every blade of grass on the pitch at Derby, an opinion backed up not only by his touch map below (we’re doing stats now, Antti Korpela held out hands through it) but also his role in the Macauley Bonne celebrations. Watch him in the background. An absolute costume of a man.
Rangers will have arrived back in London early hours of Thursday and only done, at most, a light session on Friday before travelling to our second furthest flung away day of the season, right in the heart of Covid country at Blackburn. I think it’s pretty fanciful to think it’ll be the same team again, and I’d expect to see Willock, Bonne, Ball and possibly even Bettache, given Warburton’s fondness for him (I’ve got a little story for you all about that one day), getting game time here.
That’s not ideal against a team that I personally thought had the best transfer window, pound for pound, in the Championship this summer. Dolan, Ayala, Trybull, Elliott and Douglas all look very shrewd additions, addressing the weaknesses in Blackburn’s team, while Aynsley Pears was man of the match in goal against his former club in the week despite sounding more like somebody who should be hosting themed dinner parties for feelow influencers in a Highgate townhouse bought for him by his parents. They join a squad already blessed with some massively underrated and seldom talked-about players – Armstrong, Dack, Travis, Lenihan. Gallagher has been poor for Rovers overall but usually plays well against us, and Lewis Holtby looks like Lewis Holtby so even when he’s not playing well there’s always that. Like Preston, this is a very good, functional, dangerous team, that nobody talks about because of geography and Sky’s reluctance to ever schedule one of their games unless it happens to coincide with a match against one of their darlings. How, for instance, do we end up watching as much of Derby, and as little of Preston and Blackburn, as is currently the case, given the respective squads and performance?
But hope springs not only from QPR’s improved week, but also Blackburn’s lengthening injury list. While there’s a touch of the Jonathan Woodgates about claims of a dozen players missing out this weekend, Derek Williams was the latest to limp off during a midweek 0-0 with Middlesbrough they were lucky to get and he joins Bradley Dack, Adam Armstrong, Daniel Ayala, Thomas Kaminski, Elliott Bennett, Amari’i Bell, Barry Douglas, Lewis Travis, Tom Trybull, Bradley Johnson and Stewart Downing on the doubtful/definitely out lists. Watch out for Football Manager regens Tyler Magloire and Joe Grayson on the bench.
I’ve said before it was stupid, and unfair, to try and cram a normal football season into the time and circumstances available. Do we really need the League Cup this year? The EFL Trophy? International football, with all its travel and squad mixing implications? Another three international games for most countries crammed into a week coming up, having just done seven league games in three and a bit weeks, and with another eight (eight) league games scheduled through December. Little wonder squads are stretched, players are picking up injuries and Covid in droves, and the last fixture in this latest volley of Championship action becomes a bit of a lottery.
That said, it’s a lottery QPR will be a good deal more confident of winning a prize from than they would have been this time last week.
Links >>> Injuries biting – Interview >>> Wardley and Gallen – History >>> Robinson with whistle – Referee >>> Official website >>> Lancashire Telegraph – Local Paper >>> BRFCS message board and podcast >>> Rovers Chat – Blog
Geoff Cameron Facts No.114 In The Series - Even Geoff thinks Trump might be pushing it a bit now.
Team News: Bright Osayi-Samuel picked up a strain to his signing arm in the win at Derby during the week so we’re waiting to see if he'll be involved. Chris Willock looked as good as he has for QPR so far in his substitute appearance at Pride Park and pushes for a start if not. Lyndon Dykes is still only playing 60 minutes a game following his flogging at the hands of the Scotland management last international break. He’s been called up again, though a yellow card last time means he can only play two of Scotland’s forthcoming three games. If I was betting, I might lean towards Macauley Bonne being rewarded for the midweek goal with a start instead of him this weekend. Warbs has been talking up Faysal Bettache’s chances of minutes, and Dom Ball is likely to replace Geoff Cameron from the start for this third game in a week. Luke Amos and Charlie Owens are the long termers, Lee Wallace and George Thomas will both return to action on the other side of the break. As for Blackburn…
Well, Mowbray had done it,
Elsewhere: Back underway tonight, at 18.00, for some reason, as Cardiff play Bristol City live on Sky Sports Leeds. Then we get another look at just what on God’s green Earth is going on with Reading when they host Stoke in the Saturday morning hangover zone tomorrow.
I’m intrigued by Swanselona. Their fans aren’t taken with the style of Sloth’s football, they’ve lost Rhian Brewster from last year’s team that only squeeked into the play-offs, and Wolves starlet Morgan Gibbs-White is injured already this. And yet, there they are again, up in second, and would be better still had a winning goal not been disallowed with the last kick of the game at Brentford in the week. Andre Ayew, a man on a mission. One to watch tomorrow in the game of the day at third-placed Borussia Norwich, another team riding high in the table while not, to the untrained eye, playing particularly well.
Wayne Like Fire, Fire Make Wayne Warm still hasn’t been handed the keys to the 24 Hour Beer and Brass despite the midweek loss to QPR and descent into the bottom three. A takeover by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Khaled Zayed Bin Saquer Zayed Al Nayhan Parker Bowles Huntington Whitely Whitlaw Jackson has been approved, sadly bailing Mel Morris out of the substantial hole he’d obviously been digging himself and his club into for some time. Phillip Cocu likely to miss his last game in charge, a likely defeat at home to Grimley Colliery Band if their players show the same application they did against Rangers, as he came into contact with the CEO at pride Park and he’s now been diagnosed with plague.
Sheffield Owls are back in the black after a midweek appeals success, led by our own Nick De Marco (come on Nick, bit of brand loyalty wouldn’t go amiss every now and again) and they’re at home to Millwall Scholars. Down the road, Preston Knob End are the visitors at Rotherham. Birmingham, fresh from a failed attempt to Karanka-out a 1-0 home win against mighty Wycombe, host Bournemouth, who lost at Hillsborough in fairly shambolic circumstances, in this week’s exciting game between two teams beginning with B.
Justice League leaders Real Sporting Club de Kew Bridge host the Thirteenth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour. In all his years, probably the best team Neil will have faced. Huddersfield v Luton is a bit of a fight outside a Wetherspoons while we natural wish whichever one of Nottingham Florist’s three squads they’re intending to use tomorrow luck in stopping Wycombe’s sudden burst of seven points from nine.
Referee: First returning referee of the season with Championship mainstay Tim Robinson following up his appearance in our 2-0 opening day win against Forest with another outing here. Details.
Blackburn: Nobody has scored more than Blackburn’s 18 goals this season (Justice League leaders Brentford have 17 and actual league leaders Reading the same). Only Coventry (21st, 20), Wycombe (22nd, 17) and Derby (23rd, 14) have conceded more than their 13. Rovers’ three league wins have been 4-0, 5-0 and 4-0 against those three teams. Their defeats have been 3-2 against Bournemouth, 1-0 v Forest, 3-1 v Watford and 2-0 v Swansea. Randomly, in amongst it all, the two draws they’ve registered so far have been 0-0, including midweek here against a Middlesbrough team that had much the better of things. At home they’ve only won once so far, 5-0 against Wycombe, with Cardiff and Boro escaping with draws, and Reading and Forest both winning. They come into this match with one win, and four defeats, in their last seven fixtures. Blackburn finished tenth last season, with a 10-9-4 home record and 7-3-13 away. Charlton, Luton, Fulham and Leeds were the teams to win at Ewood in 2019/20.
QPR: The 1-0 at Derby in the week was the first time QPR have won consecutive league games since 2-0s against Preston and Birmingham last December. Of course, that was followed up with a 5-3 debacle at bottom-placed Barnsley. It lifted them back to their favourite sixteenth position, and they’re now on a run of two defeats in eight games, albeit with four draws among those. Just a fifth win in 20 games under lockdown, two of those away in 11 trips. The Derby win was already a fourth clean sheet of the campaign (Rangers only kept six in the whole of 2019/20) and Seny Dieng has registered three clean sheets in his first eight games as a senior QPR goalkeeper. If they’re to improve these numbers further at Ewood Park it’ll be a first win on this ground since Stuart Wardley and Kevin Gallen got Brian Kidd the sack as Rovers manager with a 2-0 win in 1999/00. They’ve lost their last three visits, and haven’t won in nine. Rovers have won five of those games to nil.
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…
“Given our recent record at Ewood Park I would ordinarily be happy if we could keep our good week going by avoiding defeat. With Rovers' injury list, it looks like the right time to be playing them. Hopefully our knocks from Wednesday aren't too bad and we can get Bright back in the side. I am backing the defence to keep it tight again, let's hope we get a break or two up front. I'll go for a goalless draw hoping that the latest in my stinking run of predictions proves overly pessimistic.”
Mase’s Prediction: Blackburn 0-0 QPR.
LFW’s Prediction: Blackburn 1-0 QPR.
The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 31 bloggers
Letters from Wiltshire #18 by wessex_exile
Trump has finally conceded defeat, albeit in a childlike, begrudging and typically ungracious manner, but at least things are moving on now, and hopefully the beginning of a new, less adversarial era in world affairs. There was an interesting article on one of the news websites this morning looking at how the transition for other administrations have gone – none as poorly (so far) as this, but still some amusing anecdotes nevertheless. Apparently, ahead of George W Bush taking up residence, the departing Clinton team went around the White House removing all the W’s from keyboards – very childish, but quite funny too…
Letters from Wiltshire #17 by wessex_exile
So I never actually imagined more than two weeks after the event that Trump and his attack-dog “Hot Mess” Giuliani would still be refusing to acknowledge that Biden has won the US Presidential election, but there you have it. Closer to home, we are just past halfway through our circuit-breaker 4-week lockdown, and most of the graphs suggest things are slowly improving, but nowhere near a rate that would see figures return to the pre-October levels. Much closer to home, Alfie has been in self-isolation for the last 14 days because one of his teachers tested positive – delighted to say we have both passed through that period without developing symptoms…and without killing each other either 😊
Letters from Wiltshire #16 by wessex_exile
Good morning everyone. Outside the football bubble, and across the pond, we have the soon to be ex-President of the United States walled up in his White House bunker, inexorably going through the Kübler-Ross 5 stages of grief…and in a particularly undignified and un-statesman like manner. Clearly we’ve had Denial by the bucket-load, Anger as he lashes out firing those he perceives as disloyal, Bargaining as his legal team try and force recounts of perfectly valid election results, and no doubt a huge amount of Depression as he sulked in silence for the best part of a week. Now perhaps, as he nearly slips up when eventually breaking radio silence to address the press, we see the beginnings of Acceptance. If I’m honest, I’d be quite happy for Trump to keep this up and make the transition as embarrassing as possible for himself and his supporters – and if the police could eventually drag him out of the White House in hand-cuffs, all the better.
Letters from Wiltshire #15 by wessex_exile
Well, there’s a turn up for the books, the mighty U’s unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup by lowly Marine AFC, four tiers below us in the league pyramid. These things happen, and we’ve done it to others on more than a few occasions, but the manner of the result on Saturday is what rankles the most. Virtually our strongest line-up available, but the complete lack of any urgency right from the outset was dreadful to see. Even as we reached squeaky bum time into the 2nd half, having drawn level, still we ponderously passed aimless triangles in midfield for far too long. Someone has to pay for that debacle, so let’s hope it’s the auld enemy Southend tonight in the Pointless Trophy…
Letters from Wiltshire #14 by wessex_exile
Welcome to Lockdown #2, and as I write this blog, an as yet uncertain future with the orange loon threatening to refuse to hand over the keys to the White House and calling on all his white supremacist mates to rise up in arms. Moving on swiftly from chump to champ, Chairman Robbie has again addressed the U’s faithful, with another clear, concise statement on the current situation and how it may or may not affect Colchester United. I know in the past he hasn’t been everyone’s cup of tea, but I do think an awful lot of people are warming to him because of the leadership he has shown through this crisis, and long may it last!
Queens Park Rangers Polls