After a miserable Boxing Day blow last time out against Nottingham Forest, the Tigers travel to Queens Park Rangers hoping to bounce back against a side enduring a poor run of form. Though their performances perhaps should have rewarded more points than they’ve managed in recent weeks.
Ahead of the game against R’s, we spoke to @LoftForWords (loftforwords.co.uk) a blog dedicated to bringing fans R’s content for an impressive 14 years. The site is edited by Clive Whittingham who works for the Sunday Telegraph. In contribution to the series, we asked him his opinions on the encounter and here’s what he had to say:
How would you rate QPR season so far and are you pleased with where you are in the table?
I think you have to set our season so far against what we expected from it in the summer. We won three of our last 23 games last season. We spent the summer selling anybody who was remotely sellable (Freeman, Luongo, Furlong), releasing anybody who was remotely releasable (too many to mention) and loaning out several others. In all, 20 went out, 16 came in. The wage bill was hacked into again, for the fourth summer running, as we continue to try and recover from the ruinous Mark Hughes and Harry Redknapp days and comply with FFP. Many of the pre-season previews had us down for relegation and coming out of a deserved 2-1 pre-season loss at Boreham Wood, I don’t think many QPR fans would have disagreed. I had us down for 16th (where we’ve basically been for several years) but even that felt optimistic.
From those rock bottom expectations we’ve played pretty well. We’re good to watch, we’ve scored more goals than anybody bar West Brom, we were in the play-off mix early on, we’ve got some lovely players like Bright Osayi-Samuel, Ilias Chair and Ebere Eze who ripped into you guys at your place. We were basically beating the bottom half and losing to the top half until a couple of games ago when we’ve suddenly taken one point from matches with Barnsley, Charlton and Reading. It’s nothing to be too alarmed about – we missed an absolute sack load of chances in the latter two so could easily have won both – but given the way last season dropped off a cliff from a promising autumn it would be nice if we could steady things back down with wins from three home matches this week.
Who do you think the main threats are in your team?
Well Eze showed what he’s all about in the first meeting. We’re best when he plays coming in off the left, and Bright Osayi-Samuel stays tight to the right touchline. It stretches opponents across the pitch and stops defenders doubling up on either of them. We can’t afford to sign strikers, and we don’t have any coming through, so we rely on Premier League loans up front and Nahki Wells and Jordan Hugill both started the season on fire. They’ve both missed absolute sitters in the last two matches though to cost us the points, and Wells led the nosedive from the front last season when his form collapsed after Christmas, so either or both could do with a goal here.
Hull possess threats out wide in Bowen and Grosicki, what other areas of the field are you wary of?
No others, that’s it. Bowen has scored six in five against us and our biggest weakness this season is the full backs push so high up the field to join the attack (which has resulted in plenty of assists, attractive play and goals) it leaves us exposed in exactly the areas those two like to play in. They always cause us big issues and I don’t think it’ll be any different tomorrow.
Always liked Jackson Irvine at Burton but I know he’s been a bit up and down for you. I hear Josh Magennis is injured which I’m disappointed about because I think he’s a bit of a cart horse.
QPR have suffered a poor run of form of late, what do you make of their performances in that period?
Well like I say we’re waiting to see if it manifests itself into one of our long losing runs which have been a bit of a trademark of us in recent seasons. The team struggled through November but were given a bit of a free pass for that because we played Brentford, Leeds, Fulham, Forest and Boro. We know where we are and what we are, it’s meant to be a building year, expectations were low, we were kind of fine with that. December was meant to be a chance to kick on back up the table and it started well with wins against Preston and Birmingham and our first two clean sheets of the season. But the ropey defending has returned, and the strikers have started missing sitters, leading to three poor results in games we should have been looking to win. We wait with bated breath to see what comes next.
How would you describe QPR’s style of play?
All that new-age, hipster, play out from the back jazz. We went a bit more direct to good effect against Preston, who weren’t expecting it, but in general we like to pissball about in our own penalty area to try and draw teams on and then spring Eze and Bright into the space left behind. What was left of my hair in August has now gone.
Which areas do QPR need to strengthen in the window in order to make a surprising play off push?
We went for Scott McKenna, a centre back at Aberdeeen, whose defensive record in the SPL is excellent, in the summer but the price went beyond what we could pay. They ended up pricing everybody out of it and he’s still there so I’ll be interested to see if we revisit that one. The defence, and the goalkeeping, has been mostly shambolic so that’s the obvious area for improvement. Nobody would be more surprised by a play off push than us, though it is a pitifully weak league this year.
What are your score predictions for the game and why?
2-2, because we score a lot and concede a lot. If Bowen starts we’re basically one down before we’ve even kicked off.
The Amber View would like to thank LoftForWords for their commitment to this series on our website. If you want to follow them on Twitter, you can do so here.