|AFC Bournemouth 2 v 1 Queens Park Rangers|
Tuesday, 14th September 2021 Kick-off 19:45
Game of the night - Preview
Tuesday, 14th Sep 2021 09:42 by Clive Whittingham
Two of the Championship's three remaining unbeaten sides meet at Dean Court as QPR travel to face Bournemouth.
Bournemouth (3-3-0 WWDLDW 5th) v QPR (3-3-0 WWDWWD 4th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Tuesday September 14, 2021 >>> Kick off 19.45 >>> Weather – Thunder, or so it says here anyway >>> Dean Court, Bournemouth
So much has happened in our lives over the last couple of years that the passage of time can become skewed in your mind. Stuff that feels a lifetime ago, from a different world, really isn’t that long past at all – Eze’s goal at Stoke, Nahki’s hat trick against Cardiff, cursory little ‘and finally’ mentions at the end of news bulletins of some flu-like virus spreading round China.
Watching Schteve McClaren’s QPR reign fall apart, that horrible week where we lost at home twice to the bottom two in four days, removing myself from the Bolton home game 20 minutes from time before I said or did something I’d regret, all feels like stuff I did as a teenager. The transformation in this QPR team since then has been drastic, necessary and welcome. Not one of the 18 players involved in what turned out to be McClaren’s last match remains at the club (Lumley; Rangel (Smith), Hall (Leistner), Lynch, Bidwell; Scowen, Luongo; Bright, Freeman, Wszolek; Hemed (Wells). Subs not used – Ingram, Furlong, Cousins, Eze (unused sub, lol)) but that was only a couple of years ago.
Even during Warbs Warburton’s time in charge - now two and a bit seasons – there have been rapid transformations in personnel, formation, style and results. Our last trip to Bournemouth was almost exactly a year ago, and is best remembered by QPR fans for the sad injury suffered by Luke Amos just as we were starting to appreciate what the manager had seen in him all along. Amos, apparently, finally due back for the first time next week against Everton in the League Cup. But there are a couple of other bits from that game that are eyebrow raising to say the least when you look at where we are now.
That was the first time, for instance, that I thought we might have a serious player on our hands in Rob Dickie. Niggling doubts about his pace, and tendency to reach out and pull opponents’ back by the shoulder in panic, were soothed by an absolute monstering of Dominic Solanke. There was still the nadir of a red card and 3-0 defeat at Barnsley to come for the new lad from Oxford, but he was man of the match by some distance at Dean Court against an expensively assembled forward line. Now QPR would want north of £10m for him, and he’s widely considered one of the best centre halves in this league.
Hard to believe as well, that back then all the talk was about how QPR were struggling to score goals. Rangers have notched in 19 consecutive games, are the Championship’s top scorers with 14, and have scored three goals in each of their away league games so far this season. A year ago the summer punts on Lyndon Dykes and Macauley Bonne looked optimistic at best, and the latter missed two very presentable chances against Asmir Begovic leaving Rangers to settle for 0-0 from a game they’d largely bossed and certainly could have won. Having laboured to 1-1 draws against Sheff Wed and Boro in the prior two matches, the 0-0 on the South Coast was the start of a run of four full games without QPR scoring a goal at all. A year on they’ve already shared 14 goals around eight players, and retrieved six points from losing positions in as many league games. They’ve gone from not being able to afford a striker of their own at all, relying exclusively on end-of-window loans, to Dykes with ten goals and four assists in 14 appearances, club legend Charlie Austin, and Andre Gray who cost Watford north of £12m not so long ago.
Famous last words – I’m basically cursing the game here – but these teams will do well to drill a 0-0 out of 90 minutes tonight. Scott Parker’s rather cautious, staid approach to managing Fulham hasn’t so far manifested itself at his new club. Bournemouth are unbeaten, only West Brom have scored more than them at home, there have already been a couple of 2-2 draws on this ground and their cup outings produced a 5-0 win and 6-0 defeat.
They were strange last year, few other words for it. All the parachute payments, but oweing so much in back transfer fees they couldn’t really spend it. All the talented players, but without the commitment, drive and desire to make that count in a Championship slog. Deciding it was time for a fresh, clean start after an incredible decade under Eddie Howe, but then appointing his assistant to the top job. That, and the equally weird call to just let Jonathan Woodgate (last seen doing a lousy job at Middlesbrough) finish the campaign off on a short term contract gave the feeling of a club that had tried to do a whole season under caretaker managership. Woodgate got them into the play-offs with a run of seven consecutive wins through April, but then pisballed around with the team selection for the final three matches, losing them all and killing any momentum they’d built up stone dead. One nil up from the first leg and leading in the second, they then tried to shithouse away 80 minutes of play-off football and ended up losing 3-2. Parker’s part in Fulham’s most recent yo-yo, and more to the point the style of football he played there, made the size of Bournemouth’s hard on for him tricky to understand, but he could hardly be worse than what went before in 2020/21 and the advantage of having a permanent manager with a clear plan has been seen in their results so far. Parachute payments, and a handy £20m for Arnaut Danjuma, which as we saw with the Ebere Eze sale can be transformative in the FFP stakes at this level, will keep the wolf from the door of even a small ground like this for sometime to come, but you’d think a serious tilt at a Premier League return is needed over the next eighteen months or risk drifting down into that netherworld of prolonged medicine taking.
It's the Championship’s game of the night, and it involves our Queens Park Rangers. How times change.
Links >>> Parker makes unbeaten league start – Interview >>> Bedford’s record – History >>> Pissflaps – Referee >>> Bournemouth official website >>> Bournemouth Echo – Local Press >>> Up The Cherries – Forum >>> AFCB – Blog >>> Cherries Red Army – Podcast
Below the fold
Team News: QPR were without Lyndon Dykes for the weekend draw at Reading after he picked up a knock on international duty with Scotland. Whether that injury is serious, or simply part of Warbs Warburton’s aversion to picking players just back from international duty, will become clearer an hour before kick off tonight. Andre Gray scored on his debut from the bench to push his case for a start. Sam Field is a long termer but his fellow custard kneed midfielder Luke Amos is pencilled in for a return against Everton next week, a year on from the ACL blow out he suffered on this ground in this fixture last season. Lee Wallace remains hamstrung.
Bournemouth have Lewis Cook (spoiling the broth) and Junior Stanislas (in trouble with his mum) out long term and are likely to pick the same side that beat Barnsley at the weekend bar the goalkeeper, where summer signing Orjan Nyland apparently might replace Mark Travers.
Elsewhere: Sheffield Red Stripe went from one goal in their first five league matches to six all at once against Peterborough at the weekend – and with Rhian Brewster an unused sub as well. Whether that’s the kickstart Slavisa Jokanovic’s side requires will start to become clearer tonight as they host a mediocre Preston Knob End team. Things look bleak for Posh, who have only that injury time win against the Derby County bin fire to show for their efforts since promotion, they’re at Reading tonight who shipped another three goals to QPR at the weekend to top up the division’s worst defensive record. All the teams promoted from League One are now off the mark with Blackpool registering a surprise 1-0 win against early pace setters Tarquin and Rupert (bugger me Tarqers, Blackpool!?) and they will look to build on that with another home outing against Sporting Huddersfield tonight. Fulham’s attempt to bounce back comes tomorrow at Birmingham.
Wayne Rooney’s Derby County have a tough assignment at West Brom tonight having lost in the second city to Birmingham on Friday. Viewers of that treated to yet another two minute mid-game monologue from the Sky coms about how highly “Sir Alex Ferguson” rated Ravel Morrison, and how Rooney believes that once his fitness is improved Premier League teams will be “knocking at his door” asking to take him, conspicuously ignoring and failing to mention everything Ravel Morrison has done over an 11 year career that has only recently surpassed 100 appearances (his 20 appearances for QPR across two spells mean the only club he’s played for more than us is Birmingham) and his net zero contribution to Derby’s latest meek defeat.
Blackburn v Hull is this week’s North Off rounding out the fixtures tonight. Tomorrow there are five games in addition to that Fulham one, with surprise early challengers Stoke hosting Barnsley in the televised tie. Coventry have won every game since returning to the Ricoh Arena and can continue that record against Cardiff, though no team has won as many points as the 27 the Bluebirds have taken on the road since Mick McCarthy took over there midway through last season. Bristol City host Lutown while Swanselona, fresh from a good skull fucking by Keith Stroud at the weekend, will hope for better luck, and refereeing, at home to Miiiiiiiiillllllllllll.
Then there’s Nottingham Florist, who thought they might be getting somewhere at the weekend when Lewis Grabban scored an actual goal for his £40,000 a week against Cardiff at The City Ground, only for them once again to try a classic Chris Hughton sit in and hold and fail to accomplish either. Five defeats and a draw in the league now ahead of their date on The Fourteenth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour – still, just over three months until that January transfer window opens again lads. Another seven or eight signings should do it I reckon. Incidentally, nobody seems to have much noticed or be talking about Boro, who’ve won only once this season so far, and lost 2-0 at Cov at the weekend. If you’ve got tickets for the tour’s post-Christmas dates, you might want to think about bumping those up. Cornwall could be calling a little sooner than scheduled.
Referee: Another couple of obvious howlers at the weekend down in Swansea, so of course Keith Stroud’s weird hold over whoever is in charge of this stuff continues with another big, televised appointment on the Tuesday. Naturally often at odds, but rarely is the general consensus between the people who appoint, manage and train the referees and that of the people who pay to watch football as far apart as it is on this walking, talking disaster zone. Still, no doubt he’ll give the ball a Sky-pleasing kiss on his way out to wreak havoc, so that’ll be nice for everybody. History.
Bournemouth: Only three teams remain unbeaten in the Championship and two of them meet in this game – West Brom are the other. Bournemouth’s 3-0 weekend hammering of a Barnsley team QPR struggled with moves them onto the same 3-3-0 record that we have, though Bournemouth have scored and conceded three fewer goals than us. At home in the league they’ve beaten Barnsley 3-0 and had 2-2 draws with West Brom and Blackpool, the latter after leading 2-0. They also white-washed MK Dons 5-0 in the League Cup. The Cherries won 13 home games last season, only the top two managed more, but conversely they also lost seven which was the worst record in the top six. That left space for three draws, of which our visit here in October was one, though with QPR scoring three goals in each of the last three away games and Bournemouth scoring two goals on more in five of their six Championship games this year you wouldn’t think a repeat that likely. Famous last words. Dominic Solanke is top scorer with four in the league and one in the cup.
QPR: The draw at Reading on Saturday ended a run of five consecutive away league wins, the club’s best since 1927/28, but it did continue a number of others. Rangers have scored in 19 consecutive games, their best run since 2004/05 when a run of 18 was halted with a 1-0 loss at Reading. They are unbeaten in eight league and cup games to begin the campaign, surpassing the seven we managed under Jim Smith in 1987/88 and now the best start we’ve made since the 1975/76 season under Dave Sexton. The last time QPR lost was 11 games ago, on April 24, at home to Norwich. Last season’s record of eight away wins was the club’s best total since the 2013/14 promotion season and they haven’t won more than that on the road since Neil Warnock’s 2010/11 title winners won ten. The point at Reading was the third time QPR have come from behind to draw this season, and the sixth point they’ve taken from a losing position – no team in the league has more points in such situations than QPR since Mark Warburton took over. The three goals also moved us clear as the league’s top scorer with 14, and they’ve come from eight different scorers with Andre Gray and Stefan Johansen getting their first goals of the campaign. The 0-0 draw here was one of just four stalemates in QPR’s 48-game season, and six in 106 since Mark Warburton took over. It helped the R’s knock 21 goals off their conceded total from 2019/20, and go from six clean sheets to 14.
Prediction: We’re indebted to The Art of Football for once again agreeing to sponsor our Prediction League and provide prizes. You can get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Mick_S took the title on the very final weekend of the season last year giving him the dubious honour of finishing our match previews in 2021/22. Here are his thoughts on Bournemouth…
“I’m finding things very hard to call at the moment-another brutal couple of weeks coming up. I’ll not normally take a draw before kick off at the moment, so I’ll go for a very optimistic 1-2 with Dickie to score first for us. About time he did. Again.”
Mick’s Prediction: Bournemouth 1-2 QPR. Scorer – Rob Dickie
LFW’s Prediction: Bournemouth 2-2 QPR. Scorer – Charlie Austin
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When Saturday Comes #11 by wessex_exile
This blog is a little earlier than usual, to give me and Alfie time to load up the car and sally forth for our first awayday of the season together, on the road to Vale Park – “He who would valiant be, 'gainst all disaster, let him in constancy follow the Master”. Not quite sure who the master is in that analogy, but let’s hope it’s Hayden Mullins on Saturday. All being well, I’m looking forward to catching up with fellow U’sual boarders (Noah, Durham maybe?, anyone else) when I get there. I won’t be meeting up with Clampin (Covid) or Judge (calf injury) who will miss out on making the trip, nor of course Tchamadeu (see below).
When Saturday Comes #10 by wessex_exile
So here we are again, still looking for that elusive first home league win of the season, only this time against high-flying (and recently non-league) Harrogate Town. That isn’t meant to be in any way disrespectful for Harrogate Town, they should be applauded for what they have achieved so far, but it is nevertheless a measure of how far our stock has fallen in recent years that we find ourselves in this situation. I have no doubt that today will be a difficult game, but it’ll be even more so if Hayden Mullins doesn’t take anything from recent performances and realise that what he’s trying just doesn’t seem to be working – he simply has to change things around. Whether he will or not remains to be seen – maybe he will, maybe won’t and the old guard will finally come good? I guess we’ll know one way or another by 5pm.
When Saturday Comes #9 by wessex_exile
After the complete horror-show that was U’s v Salford last Saturday, we find ourselves desperately clinging on to our away form like a drowning man to a lifebuoy…and I have no doubt Tranmere will be seriously stamping on our fingers in that regard. As a Friday night kick-off, I can look forward to the live match stream, which I was fortunately spared for the Salford game (it sounded bad enough). Swings and roundabouts though, if this hadn’t been rearranged to a Friday night, I may well have joined my Tranmere mate Chris and his family for the weekend – Prenton Park is always a good visit for an awayday, so safe travelling and good luck to Durham and the rest of the U’s faithful who make the trip.
When Saturday Comes #8 by wessex_exile
I’ve gone back through my archive, and the last football match I attended before last Saturday at the County Ground was U’s at Cheltenham on 29th February 2020 (and covered in LfW11) – In other words a 574 day wait. Others have mentioned about finding other things to do, losing their love for live football, things like that, and certainly my bank balance has appreciated the break from costly awaydays for the best (worst) part of 18 months. If I’m honest, I was slightly worried that I would go the same way, that the attraction would fade after so long, but I needn’t have been. As a result, it’ll be a slightly different format to this When Saturday Comes blog.
When Saturday Comes #7 by wessex_exile
Well that didn’t go as planned at all – after a stirring battling performance full of grit, character and togetherness with the small band of travelling supporters at Barrow, the U’s then finally returned back to the JobServe and completely failed to turn up against bogey side Crawley. They weren’t the only ones either, Hayden Mullins was absent as well, and we have since learned he has Covid-19 and will also miss tomorrow’s game at Swindon too – I know we all wish Hayden a speedy recovery. Fortunately, I won’t be missing the match, with tickets arriving last weekend – first live game for best part of 18 months, and I can’t bloody wait!
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