In their final game of a positive pre-season the R’s host another Premier League side in the form of Leicester City.
It is very rare for QPR fans to head into a new season with bags of confidence. Yet here we are just a week away from the opening game, and there is a general feeling that we may be peaking at the right time. Whilst other teams are feeling the effects of the pandemic, bad financial management and rogue tackles from their managers in training, QPR are finally seeing the benefits for all the medicine we’ve had to take.
Black in 2019, in Warburton’s first season we were reeling from the unsuccessful tenure of Steve McClaren, we went back to scratching around for any scraps we could get on free transfers and loans, and then we lost to Boreham Wood in pre-season. Last week we thrashed Manchester United. The turnaround that this club has experienced under Warburton has been huge and that is why the fans are excited about the coming season.
On Saturday the team has another opportunity to get a second win against a very tough opponent. I always thought that this game would be the hardest challenge of pre-season, though Leicester have had a few poor results so far. Drawing and then losing on penalties to Burton in their first game of pre-season, then losing Wycombe in their second has surely got a few fans concerned. Unlike United, Leicester virtually have their first team available, against Wycombe they started with the likes of Vardy, Ndidi, Fofana and Söyüncü. Their new £23 million striker Patson Daka also started the match, and in the second half Maddison and Iheanacho came off the bench.
So they’ve got the firepower to beat us in their squad, but for whatever reason they’ve not found their best form against third tier opposition. As I said this leaves QPR with the confidence that they could also get another positive result. I would expect the first eleven to be the same or very similar to the one that started against United, Chair and Willock seem to have formed a telepathic link between each other and we need them back playing together. The Cambridge game highlighted for me how good both of them were, but when together they’re even better.
Whilst it wasn’t a fantastic spectacle the Cambridge game did allow for us to give a few fringe players a chance. One thing I took away from the game is that we need to have a bit more time practicing an alternative formation. Playing with five at the back has allowed us to get the best out of our squad, however a late change meant that we couldn’t play in our favoured formation. The opening exchanges were frantic and I wasn’t impressed with how we responded to our late change, a better team would have definitely taken advantage of the early confusion.
If there is one change I would like to see it would be the return of Stefan Johansen. The first photo of Johansen in training was released today on the club’s Instagram, and it is truly lovely to see him in QPR colours again. It remains to be seen how fit he is and whether he’ll make the starting line up against Millwall in a week’s time, but crucial minutes could be chalked up here. I thought that new signing Jimmy Dunne was very impressive at Cambridge, his aerial presence in particular really stood out and I would like to see him start again. He’ll be battling it out with de Wijs for the third CB spot throughout the season, and I think he deserves another chance to impress before Millwall.
For those not able to get to the ground, you’ll be grateful to learn that the recast experiment is for now over and instead the QPR app will be the place to watch this game. I haven’t quite understood yet just what the point of recast is, but I doubt there will be many more live streams on that particular platform. From not being able to login to the migraine inducing stream quality Tuesday was an absolute disaster for our new streaming partner. Hopefully on Saturday I’ll be able to watch the game and not have to sit in a darkened room after to recover.
Written by Alex Bullamore